Via Napoli Review
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 June 4, 2022.)
Calling this Walt Disney World’s best pizza place undoubtedly invites comments from those living in New York, Chicago, or other places believing they serve the definitive version of pizza. No offense, regional food pride is pointless (at best). Regional pride is fine–everyone has it–but the steadfast belief that cuisine should be monolithic and uniform is unnecessarily limiting.
Food evolves, is reinterpreted, and varies from place to place. That’s part of the fun. Why have a single style of pizza when you can have endless variations? Good pizza is good pizza, regardless of whether it conforms to some narrow version of what people from some specific place think it should. But I digress.
Another topic that always comes up with Via Napoli is service. 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…
Via Napoli has a indoor dining spread out across several rooms, plus a terrace seating area with doors and windows that can be opened (lower right area on the photo above). While we like the indoor area, it can be a bit loud and raucous, especially in the main room.
We prefer dining in the terrace at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, which makes our List of the Best Restaurants with Outdoor Dining at Walt Disney World as an honorable mention since it’s not totally outdoors.
The inside of Via Napoli is beautiful albeit 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 ragÃ¹.
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.
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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!
Our school band has worked and saved all year to go walk in the disney parade. There trip was going great until they ate at this restaurant, they made the kids pay in groups of five. They all had food card to pay for their meals. When my daughter and another child tried to split the cost of a medium pizza which was 33 dollars, They forced my child to pay the whole bill for 5 people off her debit card and charged 285 for 5 kids to eat. 65 of that was graunity for being a large group. This makes me sick to watch people screw 14 and 15 year olds out of all there spending money. I certainly will spread this message all over social media, so other parent will be aware of this.
My husband and I visited Via Napoli over Labor Day weekend, and sadly they didn’t have the arancini on the menu, which was a real bummer because it was one of our favorite apps.
The pizza is still amazing through!
Tim, you nailed it in the head.
When we ate there in 2016, initially I thought $33 for a pepperoni pizza was a lot….then a few nights later, I paid about that, maybe even a bit more, for a steak dinner at Coral Sea, and came to the realization that my “overpriced” pizza fed three of us, and provided leftovers for another meal, for the same or less than my one steak dinner.
Looked at that way, it wasn’t a bad price at all.
Edit: Coral Reef, not Coral Sea.
Tom, not Tim.
In my defense, I just finished a 75 centiliter Trappist ale
I don’t know if being European myself helps my opinion but we have had pretty good service twice and excellent service once on our 3 visits. The excellent server gave us recommendations, engaged with us about where we were from, where he was from etc.
But the food for me simply didn’t cut it on the 3rd visit. When my pizza came up, I had no idea how they achieved what was put in front of me. The cheese was liquefied. I picked up a slice and it all just dripped off in a matter of seconds. I know cheese can be quite….loose, on a pizza but this was like water.
Saying that, I would be happy to go back and try again, and also use their to-go window to give that a try.
Yeah – I have to say that I was incredibly surprised that anyone could think the service at Via Napoli was anything other than exceptional. But maybe it’s also because I lived in Italy. I always engage the cultural exchange cast members, talk to them about their experiences in the US, where they are from. We’ve had waiters and waitresses literally sit at one of our empty chairs and chat with us. I think, maybe, they think you want them to leave you alone to just eat your food. Try to engage them a bit more.
I have to make my dinner reservations on Wed and would like to know how I can find out exactly which restaurants are open and their menu. any help would be appreciated.
All of that is on Disney’s site. List of open restaurants and menus.
This place is our ADR Lunch spot for our day at EPCOT (Monday, October 5th) so I’m looking forward to an authentic pizza pie! Maybe by October, they will have the windows opened but I don’t anticipate a large crowd by October and the high ceilings help with indoor air circulation.
Just dined there last week and it’s was still sooo good in my opinion. We choose to dine there every visit. We had an American server though, not one from Italy. That’s the part I miss right now….all of the cancelled college and culinary programs.
Yeah, that would definitely be sad for me 🙁
Just ate there for first time in quite a few years. Service was terrible, and it seemed that was less a “Euro” stylenexperience than simply being badly run. As we arrived just a couple minutes before our scheduled reservation time I can say with certainty that it was more than 15 minutes before someone managed to simply bring water to the table, for example. We are also used to the WDW markup when dining, but while the pizzas are very good, our bill – over 80 dollars before tip for a large pizza, a personal pizza, a fried appetizer and a coke, left a proverbial bad taste in my mouth, in particular given the service.
We have eaten at Via Napoli several times and have never experienced “bad” service. In fact, I have found that by asking them about there hometown (found on their name tag) they usually open up and engage in conversation. Several have actually lit up when they discovered we were from California and expressed great interest in visiting. To be fiair when I go out to eat I don’t want someone to gush all over me. Tell me what I need to know about your food and be attentive to our table throughout the meal and I am happy. I already have friends, I don’t need one at the restaurant.
We have had the same experience when asking the international wait staff about there home towns.