Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria is an Italian restaurant & pizzeria in EPCOT’s World Showcase. It’s Walt Disney World’s best pizza place, serving authentic Neapolitan pies with ingredients imported from Southern Italy. In this WDW dining review, we’ll share food photos, pros & cons, and thoughts on the service. (Updated September 9, 2020.)
During Walt Disney World’s phased reopening, Via Napoli is one of the few of the World Showcase restaurants that has already resumed operations. Many restaurants–including some table service options in France, Japan, Norway, China, and Morocco–have not yet returned. Others have dramatically reduced menus. All have had modifications made and reduced capacity.
We’ve dined at Via Napoli several times over the years, and our opinion has evolved over time as we’ve had more experience with the restaurant. We thus wanted to return with an update to this review, reflecting upon where our thoughts have changed. Additionally, Via Napoli itself has changed since Walt Disney World reopened, so we’ll start with that…
With the reopening of their restaurants at Walt Disney World, Patina Group–the third party operator of Via Napoli–has implemented its Dine Safe: Commitment to Care program. This is a comprehensive set of operating procedures aimed at minimizing contact risk and bolstering hygiene protocol. Patina claims that this program meets or exceeds the best-practice guidelines recommended by the CDC.
The program at Via Napoli includes a variety of good practices like physical distancing and masking, plus some hygiene theater. However, Via Napoli’s modified operations do not address ventilation nor does the restaurant offer outdoor dining. This is perplexing given that Via Napoli emphasizes safety and those are two of the big, specific recommendations made by the CDC that significantly reduce risk at restaurants.
This is especially disappointing in the case of Via Napoli because the restaurant has a terrace seating area with doors and windows that can be opened (lower right area on the photo above). The restaurant is simply choosing not to do so for whatever reason. It’s not like Via Napoli would have to overhaul its operations–this would be a less intrusive change than other modifications the restaurant has made, and would reduce risk in a more meaningful way.
We’re hopeful Via Napoli makes this change this fall when Florida’s weather improves, because we’d love to return to Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria. It would instantly make our List of the Best Restaurants with Outdoor Dining at Walt Disney World; it’s a fun restaurant with great food. In the meantime, we’d recommend skipping Via Napoli in favor of the nearby Spice Road Table, which is currently the best and safest restaurant in EPCOT’s World Showcase (order the lamb!).
Moving along, let’s address the service at Via Napoli. Normally, we shy away from this in our reviews since service is incredibly hit or miss at Walt Disney World. You can go on two different days and have night-and-day experiences, or even be sitting at different tables on the same night and have a totally different take on service quality.
In fairness, most service at Walt Disney World is good. We’d peg around 80% of our restaurant experiences with servers and other Cast Members as good to great. The other 20% are not so good, and are totally unpredictable. It’s hit or miss to the extent that there’s usually no telling where or when you might encounter poor service. It does not depend upon the specific restaurant, or the caliber/cost of the dining spot. This inconsistency is definitely a problem at Walt Disney World.
At least, service is usually unpredictable. At Via Napoli, the service we’ve received has been consistently poor. We’ve now dined at Via Napoli over a dozen times, and I’d say we’ve had good service around 25% of the time. Given those numbers, I’m pretty confident that we have a large enough sample size, and our experiences are not anomalies. Via Napoli is a consistent offender.
In fairness, Via Napoli’s “style” mirrors that of service throughout Europe, where servers are generally more brusque and to the point. This contrasts with the American approach, which is more affable and outgoing. Americans are more accustomed to hands-on and attentive service, whereas Europeans favor hands-off servers who fade into the background of the experience. Calling one “good” and the other “bad” isn’t totally fair, and shows our biases as Americans. Look at it this way: you’re getting a wholly authentic European experience at Via Napoli!
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the theme and ambiance of Via Napoli…
The inside of Via Napoli is beautiful albeit it relatively understated. There are nice lighting fixtures and craftsmanship. By far my favorite feature of the restaurant was the open-air cooking area, including the three-ovens named Etna, Vesuvio and Stromboli.
In terms of ambiance, Via Napoli is fine. The seating area is large, open, and features high ceilings with minimal fabric to absorb sound. It can get pretty loud inside, but is still typically fine. After all, this is a pizza place, not an intimate fine dining setting.
Even though the pizzas are quite expensive, the true question is whether it costs more to eat a meal here than at most restaurants. If paying out of pocket and eating pizza, I would answer with a resounding “no.” The largest pizzas on the Via Napoli menu are around $40. That would be a fairly high price if these pizzas could only feed one.
However, they can feed ~4, depending upon appetites. Roughly $10 per person for an entree at a table service restaurant, especially one of the better World Showcase restaurants, isn’t that bad. Add in appetizers and drinks, and the total is around $20 per person, which is still quite reasonable given the alternatives.
It’s still quite a bit for pizza, but in Disney, you pay for the ambiance and location. It’s not the best-value in the EPCOT area, but you shouldn’t have sticker shock in looking at the pizza prices. All in all, it’s not that bad given the size of the pies.
Over the course of our first few visits to Via Napoli, we tried some appetizers. On our subsequent half-dozen or so visits, we’ve always skipped the appetizers. They don’t seem that special to us, and can quickly escalate the cost of the meal (which we normally try to make a good value).
With that said, here’s some of what we’ve tried…
One such appetizer is the Calamari Fritti. I’ve never encountered calamari I didn’t like, and this was no exception. The sauce was rich and fairly well-flavored (not the best I’ve ever had, not the worst), and the calamari itself were perfectly breaded. I definitely have a weakness for calamari, and this really hit the spot. I probably would have been fine with two orders of calamari for myself, for my entree.
Here are a couple of other appetizers that we’ve tried since that first meal at Via Napoli:
Here’s the Fritto di Verdura. These are crisp fried vegetables served with marinara piccante.
This is one of the cheaper appetizers at Via Napoli, and are arguably worth getting if you want a bit of filler. Very straightforward and nothing that will wow you, but the batter is fairly good and the portion usually fair. (It’s hard to tell from that photo, but I think we got decent value out of this.)
Here’s the Arancini. This is fried risotto balls filled with mozzarella and meat ragù.
These were fine, with a nice crunch outside and a soft center. I wouldn’t say the flavor was particularly noteworthy, and at over $10 for this appetizer, I wouldn’t say the portion presented good value for money.
We’ve also had the Salami e Provolone (flavorful without being overly greasy) and the Eggplant Caponata (something I wouldn’t normally sample, but surprisingly delicious). With that said, I’d probably still steer clear of the appetizers unless something really catches your eye. Instead, go big on the pizzas.
Now, let’s take a look at the star of the show at Via Napoli: the pizza!
After a hiccup our first time visiting Via Napoli, we’ve had incredible pizza after incredible pizza there. We’ve tried most of the menu at this point, and have loved every choice. Here are some random notes I’ve collected from our experiences at Via Napoli.
Our current favorite is currently the Carciofi Pizza (pictured above). This is a white pizza topped with artichoke, fontina, mozzarella, and truffle oil. That might sound like an odd mix, but it is addictively good. I’m not a huge fan of artichoke, but it totally works here, and the truffle oil puts this pizza over the top. I’m pretty sure I could eat a Mezzo Metro of the Carciofi Pizza all by myself, and I’m not even exaggerating.
As is the case at pretty much every pizza place, Margherita is the cheapest option. Here, it’s no slouch.
Choosing the Margherita allows each ingredient to stand out, including the exceptional crust. The cheese is excellent, ditto the sauce, and the basil punctuates an extremely flavorful pie. If you’re trying to do Via Napoli on a budget, look no further.
The pepperoni pizza is also stellar. It went from being “nothing that knocks my socks off” as I called it at one point, to being an excellent pizza, and a worthy competitor to many real-world pizza places at which we’ve eaten. (Even though we favor Chicago-style deep dish pies, we loved these thin ones!)
Countless individuals in the Disney community have indicated what makes Via Napoli so special is the water. The team at Via Napoli sought out to find water-wells in Florida similar to those in Naples. Consequently, Via Napoli uses water nearly identical in chemical composition to the water of Naples, Italy.
Purportedly, this produces the best density for the dough, which in turn makes the pizza better. It seems to me to be more marketing fodder than anything else, but the dough on the pizzas we’ve had on our recent two visits has been really good. I wonder how many people who have gone to Via Napoli without knowledge of the dough-water have thought, “wow, this is some amazing dough!!!” Not many, I’d imagine.
The Quattro Formaggi Pizza (pictured near the top of the post) is another of our favorites, as is the Piccante Pizza (half pictured above). About the only thing I think we have not tried at Via Napoli is the Prosciutto e Melone Pizza, and that’s because I can’t get past the idea of cantaloupe on a pizza.
One thing we would recommend doing is doing a half and half Mezzo Metro (again, pictured above) if there are a couple of options you want to try. Not only does this present the best value, but it’s a good way of sampling more of this excellent menu on a single visit.
When I first wrote this review, it ended with the conclusion that Via Napoli was pretty good, but also overrated. Walt Disney World fans had overhyped the restaurant and inflated its reputation a bit too much. Nevertheless, we were eager to revisit later and see if our opinion would change. As Mulder from the X-Files would say, I WANT to believe.
We’ve now eaten at Via Napoli countless times, and it’s no longer a matter of “wanting” to believe. I DO BELIEVE. While it stumbles in terms of service, Via Napoli is otherwise so good that we’re willing to overlook that. It also has tremendous range. It’s good for large groups of family and friends, a nice romantic date night spot (depending upon where you’re seated), and even good with small children. Few World Showcase restaurants have so much universal appeal.
Without question, Via Napoli serves the best pizza “pies” in all of Walt Disney World. We’d take that a step further, proclaiming it one of the few places we’ve ever dined serving truly authentic Neapolitan pizza, right down to imported ingredients, wood-burning ovens, and even the water-sourcing (no joke!). Simply put, Via Napoli is one of the best World Showcase restaurants, and a great value if you split a pizza. It’s a really fun restaurant, and it lives up to the hype.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of Via Napoli? Do you think it’s the best Walt Disney World pizza, or do you think it’s overhyped? Planning on going? If you’ve dined here, do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!