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
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 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.
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!