New Via Napoli “Soft Opens” Early

by John Kurowksi


The landscape of the Italy pavilion in Epcot dramatically changed recently as construction scrims and scaffolding came down to reveal the new, highly anticipated restaurant, Via Napoli.

Italy, as both a nation and a World Showcase pavilion, features some of the most beautiful architecture, people, and vistas found anywhere. But for many, the true key to embrace Italian culture lies within its rich and flavorful food. The popularity of the former Alfredo’s, and the current Tutto Italia prove that many Walt Disney World guests crave Italian fare while visiting and lucky for them, they now have a new offering. Via Napoli specializes in pizza with some pasta dishes and salads on the menu.


The decor lends itself to the story that Disney Imagineers concocted for the new eatery. The son of a wealthy Italian family that owned a large and thriving parcel of land in their community returned home and transformed his parents’ estate into this 400-seat trattoria. Tutto Italia, found right next door, serves as the family’s former home and Via Napoli sits on the former site of the family’s villa, shop, and stables. In fact, this new restaurant matches Tutto Italia in terms of design and architecture.

Guests enter into the restaurant’s foyer, the former villa. Three glass walls separate the foyer from the rest of Via Napoli. In the center sits a very ornate chandelier decorated with glass fruit. The glass fruit actually arrived the morning of our visit. As of right now, because of the small size of this room, and the constant opening and closing of the automatic sliding glass door, the outside temperature controls the temperature of this room. One circular air conditioning vent sits in the center with the chandelier underneath it.


Via Napoli houses a giant open kitchen with three very unique wood pizza ovens, named Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna.
All named after volcanoes in Italy, three Roman god-like faces outline the ovens with the appearance of flames in their mouths.


Aspiring chefs will love to have a view of the bustling kitchen to watch these chefs do their work as they dine, while others will take in the charm of the murals, paintings, and decorative light fixtures throughout the restaurant. There is also a large wooden table in the center of the room. This table is for large groups as well as extra seating for other small parties. Like the tables at the Biergarten or Teppan Edo, guests seated at this table may find themselves sitting with other parties.

The section of the restaurant that simulates the former stables features a 79-seat outdoor area, separated from the rest of the restaurant by two glass doors. Being outdoors, this seating area faces the elements, but this section will soon be covered in sliding glass doors that will remain open during fair weather, but will be closed off in extreme cold and hot weather in order to be heated or air conditioned.

The Patina Group, the operators of the restaurant, wanted to make the pizza served in Via Napoli to taste as authentic to the pizza found in Naples, Italy as possible. Many pizza chefs say the trick in making a good pizza dough is in the water, so to overcome the differences in the Orlando water, Via Napoli actually imports their water from an undisclosed spring in Pennsylvania with some extra minerals added to be an authentic match to the water from Italy. The flour comes from Naples, Italy directly and the tomatoes come from Murano, Italy. The pizza comes in three sizes: small, which is billed as individual; Large, which can serve two-three; and 1/2 Meter, which is 12″x18″ of pizza.


Our server recommended the margherita pizza, with fresh, handmade mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil. We were in the mood for some pepperoni so we asked if they could make one half margherita, and the other half pepperoni. She said that the only size they can do that with is the 1/2 Meter so that is what we ordered. The crust is very thin and charred. We found on the margherita pizza the charred crust overpowered the taste, but the kick the pepperoni gave on the other side balanced out the strong crust.

The restaurant also offers an extensive wine and cocktail list. While entering the main dining room three glass coolers are prominently featured containing the restaurant’s unique non-alcoholic offering, Aqua Fresca. This is available in three flavors: Limonata, Blood Orange, and Strawberry. These are a tad pricier than other soft drinks available and come in a smaller glass than the typical Coke products the restaurant serves. The Aqua Fresca does not come with free refills. The restaurant also features two imported Italian beers: Moretti, a light beer that is currently available throughout the Italy pavilion, and La Rossi, a darker amber lager available only at Via Napoli.


Decadent describes the desserts on the menu. The tiramisu, our server’s favorite, is very similar to the one offered at Tutto Italia. The Copa di Brutti Ma Buoni (Ugly But Good) was our favorite: a cherry and vanilla gelato sundae with “ugly but good” cookies. But the most popular dessert seemed to be the Zeppole di Caterina. These are ricotta cheese filled fried dough fritters (they look like Dunkin’ Donuts’ Munchkins) with whipped cream and chocolate dipping sauces.

The restaurant is in soft-open phase until August 5, when they will have the official ribbon cutting ceremony. The ceremony will be done fairly early in the day and is by invite only. The restaurant will open at 3:30 that day to the public. From now until September 10, the restaurant will only take walk-ups. Starting August 5, guests will be able to make reservations for dates after September 10. They do accept Tables in Wonderland and will take one Table Service Dining Credit on the Disney Dining Plan. This is a great time to check out the restaurant as it is fairly easy to get into and the food is quite tasty.

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Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

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25 Replies to “New Via Napoli “Soft Opens” Early”

  1. Cost $48 for two side salads, pizza and iced tea for 2 people at lunch. Waiter told us that the individual pizza (serves 1) would not be enough for two people and told us to order the large pizza (serves 2). The pizza was huge (8 large slices) and we had to throw out half as we didn’t want to spend the day walking around carrying half of a leftover pizza (cost $28 for plain cheese pizza). Turns out the individual pizza was a 15″ pie (6 slices) and would have been plenty for two women.

  2. We ate there last night, and loved it!

    Yes, it is a bit pricey, but does fall into the “$$” dollar range ($15 -$33 entrees). For a family of 5 (2adults, a teenager, and two eating off of the kids menu) it was just under $100.

    I’m not sure if this is a change from before, but now you can “build your own” pizza by picking the ingredients you like. Or you can pick one of the “traditional” styles – similar to what they have in Italy.

    Our pizza dough had a couple of “charred” spots around the edge, but honestly, I think that’s one of those things we Americans aren’t used to.

    We sat at the long center table and loved it. Gave us a great view of the ovens. Our server was very helpful and friendly, and even told us a little about what Italy was like at the end of our meal.

    For those who don’t know, all of the people from the various pavilions come for a year at a time to work at Epcot, and then have to wait a year before coming back.

  3. 5 of us had lunch here on monday 8/9 (with tip $60). We shared a 1/2 meter margarita pizza. We all loved it. We live in New York and a couple of us are extremely picky about our pizza. I can’t wait till my next trip to eat here again!

  4. We ate at Via Napoli last night. The pizza was excellent; my brother compared it to the pizza he gets in Brooklyn.
    Other food we ordered was very good; I especially liked the Minestrone. My only complaint was the price: 2 bowls of soup, 2 personal salads, 1 children’s meal, 1 large pizza (feeds 2) and 5 soft drinks came to $84 before tip. I know that good pizza is difficult to find in Central Florida, but that’s too much considering what we ordered.

  5. Almost forgot to add – the prices seemed rather high. The bill for three adults, a 14 year old boy and 12 year old girl was $127.00!! And no alcohol was ordered.


  6. Our family of 22 will be visiting in November of this year. We have been patiently waiting to make our reservations. My sister was finally able to make them and we can’t wait!!!!

  7. We ate here on 8/5. We were seated at the big center table. Pizza was excellent. Aqua Fresca – not so much. It wasn’t really cold, and the blood orange tasted like they added cream to it. The service was excellent and very accomodating, switching our drinks to cokes with no problem. They also rushed our pizza so we could see “Illuminations”, so ours was not even “charred”. We loved the pizza. We also had one of their “sampler platters” appetizers and that also was very good. We were sorry to have to rush through our meal (because of Illuminations), but we really appreciated the staff’s hustle.

  8. We also visited Via Napoli on the first night and had mixed results. We ordered the Piccante pizza which hubby enjoyed but I didn’t as I did not realize it would include so much spinach since spinach was not listed on the menu. We had asked if we could order a pizza half and half and were told no. Can’t even add a topping which seems a bit inflexible since the offerings are not what you would call “standard”. We’re going to try again in December but I think I’ll stick with the pasta.

  9. do they serve wine?

    Deb Koma replies: Sure do! As John says in the review above: “The restaurant also offers an extensive wine and cocktail list.” Can’t wait to go there myself!

  10. I just read your article, and the new restaurant reminds me of a similar place in Minnesota called Punch Pizza. I am not sure if there are locations outside of MN. I just wanted to say that the charring that occurs on the pizza crust from the wood burning ovens is one of my favorite things about the pizza. Just thinking about that charred crust makes my mouth water. So I hope that people reading that part in your article will not be turned off from trying the pizza, because it may be the best pizza they’ve had in a long time. However, I just read the other post mentioning the crust was burnt, not charred, and I hope the chefs are just learning how to work out the kinks in their new ovens.

  11. we have reservations for Via Napoli for lunch Dec.11. Can’t wait to try everything new and (sounds) tasty!

  12. Do you know if they accept Tables in Wonderland. Will they accept it in 2011?

    Deb Koma replies: Hi, guess you missed it, but as it says in the blog, they do accept Tables in Wonderland!

  13. We went over to Epcot last evening (8/3) purposely to eat at Via Napoli since we knew that they were serving. When we arrived, we were told it would be “about an hour” to be seated; since that was our specific plan for the evening, we opted to wait. The restaurant was probably about 1/3 empty. We were seated in 5 minutes! Of course, we had to try the pizza since it has been so hyped up. I also opted to try the eggplant parm. The pizza was burnt (not “charred”) and the crust, while thin and crispy, had a very bland taste that was overpowered by the burnt taste. Looking around the room, I saw other pizzas served burnt as well. The toppings were plentiful (we chose the one with 4 toppings, quattro stagioni, including eggplant, “ham”, and mushroom. Interestingly, each quarter of the generously sized individual pie, held a different one of the 4 toppings. While the pizza was disappointing and did not hold a candle to pizza from NJ and NY, nor my homemade pizza, the eggplant entree was fabulous! The eggplant was thinly sliced, not breaded, and cooked to tender perfection with a light dressing of tomato and cheese. It was served with a surprising “fried” spaghetti that the waiter informed us was a traditional Italian dish of pasta mixed with eggs and fried. Pizza style and taste is truly a personal preference so I am not going to dissuade anyone from trying it yourself. We will definitely be making reservations to return as the rest of the menu held many other enticing Italian entrees that we want to try.

  14. Very thorough review and love the photos. Thanks also for including that Via Napoli accepts Tables In Wonderland since we are members. We are visiting the World in September and have reservations there. Can’t wait.

  15. We got to have lunch at Via Napoli on the first day of the soft opening. I loved the atmosphere, but it was really loud. The server staff was excellent! I loved learning some new Italian words. I was not impressed by the pizza. It was just okay. The other hot entrees were very good and loved the desserts!

  16. We are traveling down this November and I am looking forward to sampling the new pizza. When I eat a pizza Margherita style, I like it with lite sauce. But it does look really good.

  17. Agreed with Johnny’s thoughts above that a counter portion where you can grab a slice and go is very much needed and in my case hoped for. Was kinda upset when the news came out that it was a sit down only.

    That said really looking forward to trying it out.

    Sure looking forward to Jack’s big write up on opening day!

  18. Thanks so much for the review….We are anxious to try this one out in October. I’m so glad that the Italy pavilion will have this new addition to round out the “look” in that area.

    One question though…I thought we were going to be able to start making reservations on the 6th (Friday)? Can you confirm it’s now a day earlier? Must set my alarm clock!

  19. Back in the early part of the year my anticipation was so high that I thought the opening day would never come. Now, it’s hard to believe it’s actually here!

    However, I was under the impression that there would be a counter service portion in addition to the table service. We really need a place somewhere “around the world” where we can just grab a quick slice.

    Thanks so much for the excellent blog. Very well done.

  20. Can’t wait to vist in the fall when we make our food and wine pilgrimage.. Looking forward to seeing what pastas they have available and trying thase zeppole

  21. Very well-written review! There’s so much more story than I thought. Now I have to go try their pepperoni pizza and put my Tables in Wonderland to use. Questions though: is there a difference between the volcanos, and do you have any pictures of the Ugly But Good? 🙂

  22. My family and I had the pleasure of eating here on the first night. We shared the 1/2 meter pizza and had a salad as well. The service and food were outstanding.You would never know it was the first night. We are here in WDW for another 10 days so we look forward to returning here for dinner once again.