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World Showcase, Epcot
 
Via Napoli

Via Napoli opening day report and photos

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Epcot today answered the prayers of pizza loving Walt Disney World guests with the opening of the brand new Pizzeria 'Via Napoli' at Epcot's Italy pavilion. The 300+ seat table service restaurant features pizza, pasta and other speciality dishes prepared in an on-stage kitchen using wood fired ovens (see menu here). The majority of the seating is located indoors, but there is also seating for approximately 100 diners in a covered outside area. 

We've been following the exterior over the last six months as the building was under construction, but it's still great to see in it's finished state. The new restaurant does a great job of making the Italy pavilion appear complete, nicely rounding off the end that at one time just came to an abrupt dead-end. The exterior of the building blends with other buildings perfectly, and represents a great mix of Italian architecture. Guests would never know that the restaurant was only built in 2010 compared to it's neighbors built in the 80's.

From an operational stand-point, an interesting little detail here is that the restaurant has a dedicated stroller parking area that is tucked well to the side and is rather well hidden. At first you think it's a cast member entry to backstage, but it is in fact a stroller parking area and it should help to keep the front of the building from becoming a cluttered parking lot. 

The inside of the dining room is very well themed. A large open lobby greets you as you enter through the front door and being surrounded by glass walls gives you a great view into the dining room and open kitchen. Large windows surround the dining room and beautifully painted walls provide a wonderful environment in which to dine. There are a good mix of table sizes, ranging from 2 person, 4 person, 6 person, and even a huge banquet size table that must have had around 30 seats or more. The ceiling is high with the central area extending up to what would be the second floor, giving a ceiling height of over 30ft.

Perhaps the most striking part of the dining room is the open kitchen. Here you can see all the dishes being prepared, so no question on the freshness. There are 3 wood burning ovens, each with their own face and name - Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvio.

Now onto the food (you can view the full menu here).  For starters we had the fried risotto balls, serving size was 4, which is in most cases large enough to share. We felt they were a little bland, and perhaps over-priced at $10. 

Next up we tried a Margherita pizza and a Pepperoni pizza. We've long been hearing from Disney about how the caputo flour is imported from Italy, along with local spring water and San Marzano tomatoes to give it that authentic flavor, and how the head chef of the Patina Group toured Italy to master the wood fired pizza technique, but we went in reserving judgment about how good the pizza would actually be. Well let me put your mind to rest if you were wondering the same, the pizza is seriously good. The crust is on the thin side, but not super thin, nor is it overly blackened. The base was cooked perfectly, and you could really appreciate the flavor that the wood fired oven provides. The pepperoni was perhaps the best I've ever had, just the right thickness and size, and just spicy enough. We had two of the individual size pizzas, which provided four big slices per pizza. They are available in 3 sizes, 10-inch, 20-inch or 1/2 meter, with the largest being enough to serve 4 or 5 people. They really have got the sizes just right. There is an option for pretty much all scenarios, and it does let you get the exact size you want without having to get take-out boxes to carry around the left-overs. (see below for photos of all the food we had)

Finally came dessert, which had a variety of choices including Tiramisu, Gelato and Zeppole - we went for the Apple Cake. This was a real nice change of pace from the typical line of desserts, and offered something really unique.  I'd certainly recommend it! It was borderline big enough to share, and would make a great individual sized dessert after a large meal.

Overall our check for 2 speciality non alcoholic drinks, 2 individual size pizzas, 1 appetizer, and 1 dessert came to $60 excluding tip and tax. Disney Dining plan is offered (1 table service credit per person), Tables in Wonderland discount of 20%, and Annual Passholder discount of 10% for lunch Monday through Friday. We didn't feel that Via Napoli offered great value for money, but was competitive and similarly priced to other World Showcase restaurants.

Via Napoli is going to be a serious contender for Le Cellier's crown as the king of World Showcase dining. The very fact that it has pizza, and seriously good pizza at that, is going to make this place incredibly popular. The pricing, while perhaps in the high side for pizza, is competitive with other Epcot table service locations, and the fact that you can easily share some of the larger pizzas may actually make Via Napoli one of the more cost effective options. The dining room is top notch, the service up to the usual high Disney standard, and the pizza is excellent. Via Napoli is highly recommended!

The restaurant is open daily from around 11:30am to park close on a walk-in basis from now until September 10 2010 when it becomes available for reservations as well as walk-ins. Reservations for dates from September 10 and onwards can be made from August 6 2010.

Check out for the photos below for a look inside, outside, and of course, the food!  As always, click a thumbnail to view the large versions.

View the full menu here.
A look back at the construction here.
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