Via Napoli is an Italian restaurant in Epcot’s World Showcase. It’s Walt Disney World’s best pizza place, serving the only authentic Neapolitan pizza in WDW, with ingredients imported from Southern Italy. In this review, we’ll share food photos, pros & cons of dining here, and also thoughts on the service. (Last updated December 28, 2017.)
Via Napoli is one of the newer World Showcase restaurants–and one of our favorites. Without question, it 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!).
We’ve dined at Via Napoli several times over the years, and while still busy most of the time, its popularity has died down a bit since it first opened several years ago. It’s not a difficult Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) to get at this point.
Before we dig into the food and ambiance of Via Napoli, I want to take a rare moment to 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, our experience with service has been poor most of the time. We’ve now dined at Via Napoli around a dozen times, and I’d say we’ve had good service maybe three times. 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 consistentoffender.
Despite this, we keep returning. The food is that good, and the poor service is the price we pay (so to speak) for the delicious pizza. I also write this off as being the general “style” of service throughout Europe. Look at it this way: you’re getting an authentic European experience–poor service makes it just like being there. 😉 (Seriously, at a good 75% of table service meals we’ve had in Europe, the server acts disinterested or like our presence is a burden.)
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.
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.
Another thing that has been heavily advertised is the varying hot spots that frequently change in Etna, Vesuvio and Stromboli (Via Napoli’s three ovens), which greatly affect the cooking. I have noticed some unevenness in our pizza, namely on the underside of the crust, and this has added to the taste.
When I first wrote this review, it ended with the following conclusion: “We had read some pretty positive reviews of Via Napoli prior to the trip, so we were fairly excited about the meal. However, I think with any new Disney restaurant, there is a bit of “inflation” that occurs in the Disney fan community. People so want the restaurant to be the next big thing that, psychologically, it seems better than it actually is (as Mulder from the X-Files would say, “I WANT to believe.”). I’m not saying Via Napoli wasn’t good–it was very good–it just didn’t match the hype I had read about the place. I would not place it in the “must do every trip” realm. Still, it was very good, well worth a visit, and definitely not as expensive as some reported, assuming you get one of the larger pizzas and share it.”
I can no longer say that this is accurate. 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’s pizza is so good that we’re willing to overlook that. 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. We highly recommend giving it a shot.
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? 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!