the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Review: Epcot’s Via Napoli

Alrighty, folks, settle in — this is gonna be a long one! I very happily stuffed my face at Via Napoli twice on my last Orlando trip, and I’m pleased to share all the news on what has become one of my favorite restaurants in Walt Disney World!

Atmosphere

Located in Epcot’s Italy pavilion (walk straight to the back; you can’t miss it), this massive, airplane-hanger-of-a-room is cavernous, but beautiful and filled with light, hustle, bustle, and the most amazing smells.

Via Napoli Dining Room

Artisan tiles dot the floor; whimsical chandeliers hang like ornaments throughout the restaurant; chipping frescoes give depth to the walls; and old-fashioned travel-themed artwork reminds you of all the places in Italy you haven’t been. The warm, neutral colors with pops of red, blue, green, and yellow give a bright, cheery feel to the restaurant.

Via Napoli Seating

Floor Tiles

Entryway Chandelier

Window Themeing

Via Napoli Glasses

Italian Travel Art

Clearly this is a casual place (though the prices don’t necessarily scream casual…); while booths and tables are scattered around the restaurant, a huge table runs the length of the dining room — right down the middle — and is used for large parties, or for multiple small parties. If you’d rather avoid being seated next to a stranger, request to be seated at your own individual table. There is also a bit of seating outside. Many of us were hoping this would be turned into a take-out or counter-service area, but so far, it’s table service as well.

Window Side Seating

Center Table

Outside Seating

And the focal point of the restaurant are the three massive pizza ovens — Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna — named for the active volcanoes that haunt Italy today.

Via Napoli's Pizza Ovens

As you decide on your meal and wait for your food, take a gander over at the show kitchen. It’s fun to watch everyone creating the masterpieces you’re about to enjoy (super fun for kiddos, too!). Just be careful not to get in the way — everyone moves very quickly in this place!

Via Napoli Pizza Chef

I’m hoping Via Napoli institutes a kids’ program like its sister restaurant — Naples in Disneyland — has. Kids are given a bit of pizza dough and are able to stretch out their own pizzas there. You can see my review of Naples here.

Eats

Now, let’s get down to some serious deliciousness! Folks have been bemoaning the lack of decent pizza in Walt Disney World for years, and when Via Napoli was announced — with its focus on wood-fired, thin-crust pizzas — hope sprung eternal. Today, I am grateful to say — on behalf of Disney food fans everywhere — that our day has come! The pizza here is exquisite, and while it doesn’t quite rival my favorite shops in NYC, it is delicious in its own right.

But before I show you the pizza, let’s take a look at the menu and grab some appetizers — you know I love my apps.

Via Napoli Menu -- click for larger size

Appetizers
We chose the arancini (this was before we got arancini’d out) and the salami e Provolone. Both appetizers were very good.

I missed the spicy ragu from Naples’ arancini in Disneyland, but this version’s sweet, simple sauce was acceptable. The huge fried risotto balls filled with meat ragu and mozzarella were perfectly cooked and tasted slightly bland, but the creamy texture made it a delight to eat.

Arancini

Arancini Cross Section

The salami e provolone was a true hit. The cured salami was salty, but had incredible flavorful; and the provolone…oh my goodness! I am a cheese-lover, and to have a truly strong provolone is a treat!!

Salami e Provolone

Drinks
With the appetizers, we sampled a few of Via Napoli’s signature drinks: the blood orange and lemon acqua frescas, an Italian Margarita, and the signature beer — La Rossa — an “amber-colored double malt Italian lager.”

The acqua fresca is pretty much impossible to ignore when you walk into the restaurant. The containers for the drinks are situated right in the middle of the restaurant — almost as an art piece, they’re so beautiful! And when the bright yellow, orange, and red (strawberry) liquids have sun streaming through them from the windows at the top of the walls, they really do look like stained glass windows in an Italian cathedral ;-)

Acqua Fresca

The blood orange was good, but the lemon was great! You know me and my penchant for sour drinks — that lemon aqua fresca hit the spot! Later on in the week I dined at Via Napoli with friends and had the chance to take a sip of the strawberry as well. While others at the table raved, I hold true to my love of lemon!

Strawberry Acqua Fresca

Lemon Acqua Fresca

Blood Orange Acqua Fresca

Speaking of sour drinks — my friends, that Italian Margarita has become one of my favorite margaritas on property. Tart and sweet at the same time, the combination of frozen limoncello and grappa was absolutely heavenly. I know many of you agree with me!

Italian Margarita

The La Rossa was a bitter, strong concoction that wasn’t a favorite of my husband’s. While it didn’t make it into the “don’t recommend” category, he’ll probably skip it next time.

La Rossa

Entrees
Now on to the main event! My husband and I couldn’t pull ourselves away from the pizzas, so we ordered one each to share: Quattro Formaggi — a mix of mozzarella, parmesan, fontina, and provolone cheeses as topping — and standard Pepperoni.

The Pepperoni pizza was wonderful — thin crusted with light, flavorful sauce and just-right pepperoni. “Just-right” means that the tops of the pepperoni slices are crisp and the oil is bubbly in the little pepperoni dip. The only problem with this one: we’d have loved more cheese. You actually cannot order extra cheese! Can you believe that? Our server (service was excellent by the way) told us that you can take things off the pizza, but you can’t put more on the pizza. Sigh.

Pepperoni Pizza

So clearly the Quattro Formaggi is where it’s at! There’s plenty of cheese to start with — and it’s good, flavorful, doesn’t-get-bland-in-the-oven cheese; the pie has an incredible richness and depth to its flavor that I didn’t find in any of the other pizzas I sampled; and it’s just plain heavenly to eat. When I returned later in the week, I ordered it again. I couldn’t help myself. There. I said it.

Quattro Formaggi

With the pizza we also got this gorgeous salad!

Salad

And here I have some pics of what my table-mates ordered — and enjoyed!

Mezzi Rigatoni Amatriciana

Pizza Margherita

Prosciutto e Melone

Dessert
For dessert, I was eager to try the Zeppole di Caterina (ricotta cheese fritters served with chocolate sauce and whipped cream) I’d been hearing so much about! We also tried the other signature dessert — Torta di “Mamma Rosaria” — an apple cake with almond sorbetto.

The Zeppole were fine; they aren’t what I’m used to from the San Gennaro Festival in New York’s Little Italy, but the addition of smooth, melted chocolate and real whipped cream made the taste profile much stronger.

Zeppole

Zeppole Cross Section

The torta fell into the sad category of “why we don’t order dessert in Italian restaurants.” It was bland, rather tasteless, and too small to be worth $8…by far!

Torta

Later in the week, I tried the Gelato Frizzante (“Frizzante!” say it with me…”Frizzante!”) — which is described as “Ice Cream Soda ‘Italian Style’” and made with San Pellegrino Aranciata and vanilla gelato. True to the raves I’d been hearing about this dessert, it was delicious. If you don’t need something you can chew for dessert (hey, some of us do), this is a great choice.

Frizzante

And, although I didn’t try it, I snapped a pic of the Tiramisu for those of you who love it!

Tiramisu

Celebration!
And, because we were celebrating my birthday, we were treated to a special dessert and a song!

Celebration Dessert

Being Sung to on My Birthday

Everything about it was great…except for the munchkin sized Madeleine they called “dessert.” I know the free Disney desserts have been getting smaller and smaller at a lot of restaurants, and have disappeared completely from others, but this was…disappointing.

Close up of birthday cookie

Alas, the happy-clappy song made me joyful, and that’s definitely a plus in my book!

Want to see some other food pics from Via Napoli? Check out our Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza Flickr page! Disney fans have been posting their Via Napoli pics over there, too! Also, check out our past guest reviews of Via Napoli here and here.

Overall

An incredible experience: good food, good service, good atmosphere. Please, please, please let it stay that way! (Yes, the pizza’s expensive. Yes, it’s worth it.) While Tutto Italia remains next door, I’m pretty sure I’d go to Via Napoli any chance I got.

Have you eaten at Via Napoli or are you planning to eat there on your next trip? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions in our comments section below!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

31 Comments

  1. Brenda says:

    we snuck in for lunch one day without an ADR … showed up before opening and they put us right on the wait list. Anyhoo … pizza is usually something we skip on vacation but so many people we know were raviing about this place that we thought we should pay a visit. We ordered the quattro pizza as well (I like to call it my cheese baby!) and loved it! Also shared a pitcher of sangria … their sangria is tremendous, so try it next time you’re there if you like that sort of thing!

  2. Evan says:

    Looking forward to trying the restaurant for the first time on Tuesday.

  3. pap says:

    I’m so sad I was sick the day we had a reservation, so we missed it :(.
    I was really looking forward to eating there.

  4. Sarah says:

    We had a reservation here for dinner last month, but canceled it because we wanted to spend more time enjoying the F&W kiosks (we had eaten at Le Cellier for lunch). We’ll head over sometime soon to check it out though!

  5. Katie says:

    My friend and I ate here last week for lunch, and it was fantastic! The food, service, decor, and atmosphere make for a great combination (okay, the attractive Italian cast members didn’t hurt, but I digress…). Our server recommended the blood orange aqua fresca and I thought it was very good. Now that I read the review, I wish I had tried the lemon as well. I had the margherita pizza (fabulous!) and my friend had the prosciutto e melone (he said it was great). I love the thin, crispy crust and fresh mozzarella. I would love to go back to try the four cheese pizza, as well as the chicken parm. Cannot recommend this restaurant enough!! Thanks for another great review and photos, AJ!

  6. Dana (aka DragynAlly) says:

    Still have yet to try it… Really need to on my next Disney trip!

  7. James (Disneynorth) says:

    Hey AJ! Well, since you wrote such an awesome review, I won’t write the one I had planned for you. But I will give you my take on the restaurant….

    I also had the Arancini. They were amazing. I could have eaten those as a meal.

    For my entree, I opted for the Veal Parm. While the portion size was OK, I didn’t think it was the best Veal Parm I have ever had. I did enjoy the “crunchy” noodles served as a side.

    I did get to try my son’s pizza and you are right…. it is the best pizza on property. If we go back to Via Napoli, I’m only having pizza.

    I was disappointed with the fact that the Dining plan only allowed you to order a personal size pizza. I was secretly hoping to order larger pizzas for the table and sharing them….

    Dessert was probably the highlight of my meal. I had the Vanilla Sundae, which consisted of Black Cherries soaked in some kind of alcohol, topped with whip cream and 2 almond cookies (chocolate and vanilla). It was so good, I wanted to lick the inside of the sundae cup.

    I was impressed with the wine list. We ordered an Italian Pinot Grigio, which everyone at the table enjoyed.

    Will I return to Via Napoli? More than likely, but only to have the pizza….

  8. Pudge the Fish says:

    I had a chance to dine at Via Napoli in September and I loved it. Absolutely go for the pizzas, they are amazing. But if you want an entree then I would suggest that you go to Tutto Italia next door. I’ll admit that I am a bit spoiled when it comes to great Italian restaurants since I live in close proximity to both NYC and Philly. I’ll add this restaurant to my short list of favorite pizza locations at WDW, the only other location being Wolfgang Puck in DTD.

  9. As we discussed in the WDW Today episode, I like Via Napoli’s food and I’m glad there’s edible pizza in WDW, I just wish the price point wasn’t so high. It’s still a solid choice for a meal and it’s been pretty easy to get a walk up each time we’ve gone.

  10. AJ says:

    Brenda — Have heard great, great things about the Sangria, and I definitely trust your opinion! I’ll have to try it next time (I wonder if they have white sangria…)

    Evan — Let us know what you think!

    pap — Oh no! I hate when I miss an ADR because someone’s sick :-( We ran into that with Marrakesh once, but I rescheduled for our next trip and loved it. Here’s hoping you get to go soon.

    Sarah — Le Cellier lunch and Via Nap dinner is a tough haul! Let me know how you like VN when you get there.

    Katie — Sigh. Isn’t it wonderful? My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Thanks for your review!

    Dana — You’re going to love it, I know! When’s that next Disney trip?

    James — Thank you for the mini-review!! I knew you’d tell us the best wines; I couldn’t wait to hear your thoughts! Thanks for the review on the chicken parm. Have you had chicken parm at Tony’s or mama Melrose? How does it compare?

    Pudge — Based on the pasta I had at Tutto, you might be right that Tutto is the place for pasta and Via Nap is the place for pizza… Will have to head back a few times to judge… ;-)

    Matt — In your experience, how long does it take a well-reviewed restaurant like this to become not a good option for walk-up?

  11. Bill from Philly says:

    We had reservations for Via Napoli with the idea that we’d try the pizza. We were seated on the covered veranda just off the piazza. Our server was a delightful and attentive young lady named Guilia, in fact she’s in the birthday photo in your post. She was from Mantova Italy. After reading the menu we decided to forego the pizza for the veal and chicken parmigiano and a bottle of wine. The food, the wine and the service could not have been better. The addition of an impromptu operatic serenade by a guest on the piazza made for a most memorable experience. BTW a few days later we were able to walk up and get a table for lunch and the pizza was awesome. Plans are now in the works for 2011 and Via Napoli will be the first reservation we make followed by the new Le Cellier signature dining experience.

  12. AJ says:

    Bill — What a wonderful review! It seems this restaurant has really gotten it right. Can’t wait to hear about your Le Cellier signature dining experience!

  13. Alan says:

    I’m so happy to read such a positive review on this new restaurant. Looking at the great pics, I can almost smell the aromas coming through the screen. My wife would eat Italian food 7 days a week, so I am so happy to have another, and positive, choice for her. (She indulges me with the happy hour at Raglan’s Hole in the Wall as often as I like, so I am glad to indulge her with red sauce, basil, olive oil etc.)

    While I am happy it opened, I am a little surprised it has such a big menu, being right next door to Tutto Italia. Will the new place steal their own customers from the other? Speaking to the great and friendly waiters and managers over the last few years, their feeling was that it would basically be a pizzeria. A take out window and maybe a chance to buy a slice or two would be a little a great addition.

    AJ – did you have all those drinks in one sitting?

  14. we ate at Naples45 in NYC last weekend and it is the same place as Via Napoli! I was so excited to eat there. The food is amazing – looked just like your pictures. I can’t wait to get to Epcot and eat it again!!

  15. Christina R. says:

    AJ – do the acqua frescas have alcohol in them?

  16. AJ says:

    Alan — I know! Finally! ;-) Re: Tutto and Via, I think Tutto is still going to be the “upscale” cousin over there. The prices are slightly higer, the food is a bit heavier and more ornate, etc. Via Napoli is more of a high-end pizzeria with other great stuff on the menu. More casual. And, no, I didn’t have all the drinks! The ones I actually drank were the blood orange and lemon acqua frescas and the Italian Margarita. Beer was my husbands, and strawberry acqua fresca was a friend’s order. :-)

    Steph — I haven’t had the pleasure of going to Naples45, yet, but I’m looking forward to it!!

    Christina — Nope — no alcohol in the acqua fresca. More a watered down juice (or a fruit-flavored water).

  17. Dana (aka DragynAlly) says:

    Next year in Sept/Oct I hope!

  18. Jo says:

    Frizzante!

    I have a ressie in a few weeks. Your review has made me even more excited than I already am! Don’t ya just love that chandelier? Todd took me into the restaurant while we doing the scavenger hunt a few weeks ago and I was enamoured with it!

  19. James says:

    Thanks for the review, AJ. I’ve been waiting for it. Being from NJ, I’ve been on the fence about actually trying the pizza at Via Napoli. But since both you and Lou Mongello are telling me the pizza is worth having, then I am going to be all over it on my next trip!

  20. Mark says:

    Loved Loved Loved the review AJ! I agree with Matt, the price looks a bit high for out of pocket but its going to be one that gets the $ come our next trip.

  21. Beth says:

    Loved the review! This is one of my new faves – at there in September and already looking forward to going back during our next trip in June. We ordered one of every dessert (what can I say, we couldn’t resist!) and I’m still dreaming about the “Ugly but Good” sundae. I can almost taste our delish meal now as I look at your pictures. Yum!

  22. chris says:

    AJ, you did this place justice. I love the pizza and the ricotta fritters. Can’t wait to try the salami and cheese appetizer.

    Sadly, this is making dinner tonight look a little blah.

  23. Rikki says:

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…that Quattro Formaggi pizza…that stuff is “Forget Your Own Husband’s Name” good!!! And trust me…at that moment…I didn’t care. I’d have married the pizza if I could have! It is truly good stuff!

  24. Lori Searls says:

    Hi, thanks for the great review! I was checking out the new venu in Italy Pavillion @ Epcot. We will definately enjoy it & we are looking forward to our trip soon. Our whole family is going this time, can’t wait * Smiles * Thanks again for sharing, i really appreciate it.

    Have a Magical Day ~

    Lori

  25. Junebug says:

    Wow, I’m surprised that this got such a positive review. I ate here when it first opened and I hated it. I absolutely love cheese and a pizza with almost no cheese on it is not good pizza to me. I hated the pizza because most of the slices were thin bread with a little sauce on it and nothing else. Every so often you got a bite of cheese or basil and it was sooooo expensive for the very very little that we got. The pizza wasn’t filling and the slices were small and thin and had nothing on them but sauce. The restaurant felt crowded and noisy and I would’ve preferred a booth to being crowded in with a bunch of people. Now, if the pizza here were a reasonable price point… let’s say in the ten dollar range for a large, then I think the atmosphere would be totally appropriate. But, when I’m paying this much, I want a more comfortable and cozy environment. I don’t want to feel like I’m eating in Grand Central station with people hustling around me. This was one of the worst restaurants I’ve ever eaten at in Disney.

  26. JulieD says:

    I can’t wait to try it. Love your photographs!

  27. Susan says:

    We were there last week. It was not crowded at 2:00 in the afternoon and we able to get in an hour earlier than our reservation and we were hungry and grateful for that. I had the eggplant entree and it was extremely flavorful and cooked perfectly. I mean perfect and my husband is of Italian descent and a chef, we know good eggplalnt, and was a definite 10, actually an 11! Now, the pizza, we have similar high quality pizza restaurants here in the North East so I wasn’t that impressed. We were on the dining plan so pricewise, it was ok, but I would not have wanted to spend that much for a pizza. The pizza is very overpriced, in my opinion. Nice amblence and service was great but I’m not sure I’ll run back soon with all the great food options at Disney.

  28. Shayne says:

    I can’t wait to get a chance to eat here! I ordered the Quattro Formaggi pizza at Naples and thought it was awesome. Glad you enjoyed it too!

  29. Thanks for the update. The pictures are great. It’s truly a shame that Italian restaurants don’t have good desserts (or maybe it’s not so bad).

  30. Heather says:

    I definitely had a different experience than most. I will say the food was really good. I had the margherita pizza, my mom had the chicken parm, both were yummy. While it’s great to finally have good pizza on property, I live in an area where I can easily get good pizza, so this isn’t somewhere I have to eat, but I really wanted to try it. The only negative about the food itself was after hearing all the good things about Strawberry Acqua Fresca, I was dying to try it. It looked pretty, but it just tasted like water. I was so disappointed.

    We went in early Sept, so maybe some of the bugs were being worked out. Our sever was AWFUL, probably the worst we’ve ever had at Disney. It was like we didn’t exist, though I could see that his other tables felt the same way. Also, my pizza came first, and my mom’s chicken parm didn’t come for over 10 min. By that point I was almost done! I understand they can’t come at the same time, but at least tell us that ahead of time. We were in the restuarant forever, and we were only 2 people for lunch. My mom is one to complain about bad service everywhere except Disney, but she had to say something this time when we were leaving. The manager was very nice and said that he wants to hear feedback to make them better, and from his reaction, it seems like our server has gotten lots of complaints. He also said the time between our food should never be that long.

    Like I said, maybe they’ve fixed things by now, but when you get horrible service, even with good food, it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth about a place. It was also really over priced, even more than typical Disney-overpriced. I would like to try it again if I can’t get an ADR somewhere else at Epcot, but not for a while.

  31. [...] The Disney Food Blog presents Review: Epcot’s Via Napoli [...]

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *