Patina Restaurant Group has opened a new casual pizzeria, called Via Napoli, adjacent to Tutto Italia Ristorante, its restaurant in the Italy pavilion in Epcot World Showcase at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This becomes the first authentic Italian pizzeria to ever open in the park.
(L-R) Mickey Mouse; Dan Cockerell, Vice President of Epcot; Clay Shoemaker, Walt Disney World Ambassador; Nick Valenti, CEO of Patina Restaurant Group; Joachim Splichal, Founder and Chai
Restaurateur and longtime Patina Restaurant Group CEO Nick Valenti created the Via Napoli concept, based upon his travels in Southern Italy and his time developing and overseeing the successful Naples 45 Ristorante e Pizzeria in New York which was awarded the coveted certification of “La Vera Pizza Napoletana.” While in Naples, Valenti spent time studying the art of dough, crust, sauce and oven temperatures at the famous pizzerias Da Michele and Trianon. At Da Ettore, he discovered the art of pagnotiello, a folded round of pizza dough filled with mozzarella, ham and mushrooms.
Executive Chef Charlie Restivo poses with Mickey Mouse and a special Mickey-shaped pizza Aug. 5, 2010 during the grand opening
“I have always loved the beauty of a simple Neapolitan pizza,” Valenti says. “It’s a perfect food, something beloved by both Italians and Americans. At Via Napoli we will make pizza the traditional Neapolitan way: with a textured, soft and charred crust. I look forward to bringing it to Walt Disney World, where it should be a welcome addition to guests visiting Epcot.”
Via Napoli features a selection of classical Neapolitan pizzas, ranging from pizza bianca, quattro stagioni, piccante, ortolano and a traditional margherita. Famed Pizzaiolo Charlie Restivo serves as executive chef at Via Napoli, where he crafts the pies using simple and delicious Italian ingredients such as San Marzano tomatoes, Caputo flour, handmade fresh mozzarella, Parma Cotto, crumbled sausage and water calibrated specifically to the pH found in Naples.
“We’re excited to be working with the Patina Restaurant Group once again on this significant expansion project,” said Dan Cockerell, vice president of Epcot. “Via Napoli will certainly enhance the guest experience and the architectural landscape of World Showcase just in time for our 15th annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival.”
A unique feature at Via Napoli is the wood-burning ovens, which are named after the three active volcanoes in Italy – Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli. Each oven is sculpted with the “face of the volcano” — reflecting the gods whose mythology surrounds each volcano’s history.
The architecture and design of the new pizzeria is based on a mix of traditional Italian styles, with the Florentine architect Stefano Nardini (of Magris & Partners) working in conjunction with Rick Swisher Architect to build it.