Ultimate Via Napoli Review Inside Disney’s Epcot
Come for the pizza, stay for the pizza.
I’m lucky in that I get to travel to Walt Disney World Resort with various groups of family and pretty regularly. I’m always the designated planner, and since I keep in good company, the questions of ‘where do you recommend to eat?’ start months before the subject of Fastpasses pop up.
Via Napoli is the one table service restaurant that I know I can safely book with any aged friends and family. Speaking from experience, ‘safe’ means that anyone of any age or with any palatal preferences will leave happy. On this particular visit though, I had a unique combo of returning diners and newbies at my table. When previous opinions (mine included) cross with that of a first-timer, what will the ultimate verdict be?
The interior of Via Napoli will remind you more of an American/Italian restaurant than a quaint Neapolitan pizzeria. The restaurant is a true open floor plan, and that’s always been both a blessing and a curse when I’ve dined. Only judging on my most recent visit, I can say this: it’s great for watching the hustle and bustle inside the busiest Epcot restaurant…and it’s super loud.
When you’re visiting a restaurant like Via Napoli that specializes in family-friendly food (hello, pizza!) at the world’s most popular family destination, you’ve got to expect some ambient noise. If you’re in search of the perfect spot for date night or have some serious conversing to do over dinner, this probably isn’t the best spot for you.
Family Friendly First
Not only is the open restaurant perfect for people watching, young guests who have a thing for dinner time crankiness might find some solace here! For the first time in my many, many times dining here, I noticed something brand new…you can watch your pizza be made right before your eyes!
I’ve never sat at a table that faces the three massive wood burning ovens named for the three active Italian volcanos, and now I never want to sit anywhere else! Throughout our meal, I watched the chefs knead, spread, and toss pizza dough high into the air before expertly topping their masterpieces with cheese and sauce. So, if you’ve got a little one who loves mealtime entertainment- or if you’re like me and just like watching your food get made- ask for a table near the ovens!
The party I was with was celebrating a special anniversary, and not that I need any excuse to over-order, we went in knowing we were going all-out! Being the wine lover that I am, I was thrilled to see that all of their wines by glass come with a quartino option- that’s a glass and a half!
We placed orders for calamari fritti, Contadino salad, and two members of the group ordered the house-made minestrone. Although I’ve dined here before, these were all new items to me, and one bite of the calamari dunked in the slightly spicy marinara sauce reminded me immediately of why I love this place. The fry was so light and crispy that you could easily see peeks of the bright white squid peeking out from under the batter coating, which was a major testament to how fresh the seafood was!
Both the minestrone and the salad were good too! I ordered the Contadino salad with walnuts, pears, arugula, and string beans which was about as fresh and bright of a salad that you could get- a perfect precursor to the entrees we ordered!
Special occasions in my family call for celebration, and we didn’t hold back when we ordered the largest wood-fired pizza they have on the menu for the table, plus petti de pollo to share among everyone! The chicken dish was set on the table first, so it’s only fair that we start there! I’m so glad we only ordered one plate, because the portion of the chicken was easily large enough to share between two people for dinner.
The enormous portion of chicken hit my nose first, and the dark, garlic-y pesto sauce coating the outside sent me straight to Italy…I mean, heaven! The veggies were cooked and sautéed to perfection, the chicken was tender, cut like butter, and was some of the best chicken I’ve ever had on Property!
Finally, saving the crown jewel of all food for last, we dove into the pizza. Our waitress pointed out that buffalo mozzarella had been imported directly from Italy that morning, and that today only they were serving special pies that, according to her, is the traditional prep in Italy. After her major talk-up, we couldn’t resist ordering half of our enormous pie with this special buffalo mozzarella…and I am so glad we did.
The cheese half of our table-sized pie was, as the pizza always is, absolutely out of this world. I’m from a neighborhood that has very good pizza, but it pales in comparison to the thin dough, wood-charred crust, pungently flavorful cheese-topped pies at Via Napoli. In fact, I couldn’t pick a side…literally! The buffalo mozzarella half may have been more traditionally prepared, but I’d eat any of the pizza they’re throwing out of those ovens on any day of the week…that’s how tasty it is!
Aside from the very loud atmosphere, my experience at Via Napoli a few weeks ago was nothing short of exceptional. No matter what past experiences I may have had at any given restaurant, I always enter the eatery with an open mind and an empty belly and hope for the best.
The returning diners that joined me at the table were even more blown away by the food than they had been before; I think the surprisingly delicious calamari and chicken knocked them off their feet! As for the new diner, he claims it’s the best pizza he’s ever had and is still searching to find pizza back home that stacks up to that of Via Napoli. And to him I say, good luck, my friend…good luck.
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