BEST RES­TAU­RANT VIA NAPOLI RISTORANTE E PIZZE­RIA

Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizze­ria is hands down, no ques­tion, the best pizza at Walt Dis­ney World. Pe­riod. It is se­ri­ously amaz­ing! As a self-pro­claimed “Piz­za­te­rian,” I have had slices and pies from lit­er­ally ev­ery sin­gle place on WDW prop­erty that serves

WDW Magazine - - Front Page - BY DANNY SHUSTER

ABOUT THE RES­TAU­RANT

Lo­cated in the Ital­ian Pav­il­ion at Ep­cot, Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizze­ria spe­cial­izes in south­ern Ital­ian cook­ing and recipes, in­clud­ing pas­tas, sal­ads, gelatos, and au­then­tic Neapoli­tan style piz­zas, cooked in spe­cial wood-burn­ing ovens. The build­ing takes up the back “wall” of the Ital­ian pav­il­ion court­yard. The res­tau­rant is light and airy, with very high ceil­ings and lots of win­dows. The decor is charm­ing and rustic, with a Mediter­ranean/south­ern Ital­ian flare. The cen­ter­pieces of the res­tau­rant are the three enor­mous wood burn­ing pizza ovens. Each oven is named af­ter an ac­tive vol­cano in Italy: Mount Etna, Mount Ve­su­vius, and Strom­boli. The res­tau­rant is open for lunch and din­ner, and ac­cepts some Dis­ney Din­ing Plans. While not an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity, I would rec­om­mend an ADR (Ad­vanced Din­ing Reser­va­tion); this is a fan fa­vorite spot and can get quite busy.

KNOW BE­FORE YOU GO

Em­brac­ing the spirit of the World Show­case, Via Napoli was de­signed and en­vi­sioned to be as close to a real Neapoli­tan-style pizze­ria as pos­si­ble. Nick Valenti, the restau­ra­teur

be­hind Via Napoli, spent time in Italy study­ing ev­ery de­tail of pizza mak­ing—from the top­pings to the oven, to the types of flour and wa­ter used. The re­sult of this metic­u­lous re­search means that the res­tau­rant only uses spe­cialty Ca­puto flour im­ported from South­ern Italy, and has put in the time to source a lo­cal wa­ter sup­ply for the dough that matches the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the wa­ter found in Italy's Cam­pa­nia re­gion. This care and de­tail is what el­e­vates the cui­sine from stan­dard Ital­ian fare to a truly au­then­tic and mem­o­rable meal.

THE FOOD

The menu is fo­cused on pizza, but there are a nice as­sort­ment of an­tipasto and ap­pe­tiz­ers that make great shar­ing plates for the ta­ble. We or­dered the Fritto Misto plat­ter (an as­sort­ment of just-fried sea­sonal veg­eta­bles, cala­mari & cheese in­clud­ing: Arancini, moz­zarella, cala­mari, melan­zane, as­paragi, zuc­chine, ar­ti­choke, mush­rooms, po­modoro pic­cante sauce). The menu says “serves 2” but this could eas­ily be shared be­tween four. Ev­ery­thing on the plat­ter was great. The veg­eta­bles were all su­per fresh and crisp. The arancini (fried rice ball with a cheese fill­ing) is a per­fect mix of fla­vors and tex­tures, and the cala­mari was cooked to per­fec­tion! While this is a big or­der of fried treats, ev­ery­thing man­aged to come out light and crispy, not oily at all.

In ad­di­tion to the ap­pe­tiz­ers, there are a va­ri­ety of sal­ads, which you can or­der fam­ily style for the ta­ble, as well as en­trees like chicken or veal parmi­giana, lasagna, and other pasta dishes. It’s worth not­ing that the pizza and the en­trees are cooked in sep­a­rate kitchens, so tim­ing can some­times be an is­sue if half of your ta­ble has pizza com­ing from the wood fire ovens and the rest, have en­trees com­ing from the reg­u­lar kitchen. The staff should ad­vise you of this when order­ing and they will, of course, try to time ev­ery­thing per­fectly—but I have heard din­ers com­plain that the food was not all served si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

On to the pizza… You’d be miss­ing out if you came to the res­tau­rant and didn’t or­der a pizza. The staff has put in count­less hours of work and re­search to bring you the best, most au­then­tic Neapoli­tan style pizza pos­si­ble. For those who might not know, Neapoli­tan style pizza is a thin crust that is a lit­tle bit chewy, while also be­ing very crisp on the bot­tom. It is cooked in a wood-fire oven, and is char­ac­ter­ized by its tomato sauce (made with San Marzano toma­toes—a va­ri­etal that is found grow­ing on the vol­canic plains to the south of Mount Ve­su­vius) and fresh buf­falo moz­zarella cheese. While there are lots of re­gional styles of pizza across Amer­ica, Neapoli­tan is most sim­i­lar to a New York style slice.

There are about ten pre-made pizza fla­vors to choose from, in­clud­ing clas­sics like Margherita (tomato sauce, moz­zarella, basil), Qu­at­tro For­maggi (a white pizza with moz­zarella, parme­san, fontina, pro­volone), Pi­cante (tomato sauce, Ital­ian spicy sausage, moz­zarella), and Pro­sciutto e Melone (white pizza, fontina, moz­zarella, pro­sciutto, can­taloupe, arugula). You also have the op­tion to build your own pizza from the list of avail­able top­pings.

De­pend­ing on how hun­gry you are and how many peo­ple are in your group, you may want to or­der one of the “Mezzo Metro” piz­zas and split the top­pings. For larger sizes, Via Napoli will make “half and half” piz­zas or var­i­ous other com­bi­na­tions, which are quite the sight to be­hold.

A word of warn­ing: when the pizza comes to your ta­ble, you must re­sist the temp­ta­tion to dive in im­me­di­ately. The trick to cook­ing these piz­zas is the in­sanely hot ovens, and they’re served straight from the oven to your ta­ble. You don’t want to burn the roof of your mouth on your first bite when there is so much tasty pizza to be en­joyed. Also, when in doubt, go large. The pizza is still re­ally good cold and the staff can pack up your left­overs to go. I’ve def­i­nitely had last night’s pizza for break­fast the next day in the ho­tel room and it was a great start to the day.

An­other house spe­cialty at Via Napoli is the Aqua Frescas (house-made, sea­sonal fruit juice cool­ers - Blood Or­ange, Straw­berry). If you need a re­fresh­ing bev­er­age on a hot day, I can’t think of any­thing bet­ter. Def­i­nitely worth try­ing on your next visit. The menu also has a se­lec­tion of gelato and sor­bet, as well as Tiramisu and other desserts, but frankly, I am usu­ally too full from de­li­cious pizza to even think about desserts.

ET CETERA

The best pizza at WDW Au­then­tic Ital­ian ingredients and prepa­ra­tion The best pizza at WDW Great for shar­ing and larger groups Did I men­tion it’s the best pizza in all of WDW?!?!

If you like pizza, do your­self a fa­vor and get a reser­va­tion for Via Napoli. It is a fan-fa­vorite res­tau­rant for a rea­son and sure to please your whole fam­ily!

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