This is the third post in the Weekend Getaway to Orlando series. Other posts include Eating Around the World at Epcot World Showcase and L’Artisan des Glaces (Epcot Center). It is also the part of the #21PostsInMay Challenge.
One of the best (if not, the best) meals we had inside any Disney park would have to be our dinner at Via Napoli in the Italian Pavilion. Via Napoli was built in 2010, after organizers canceled an initial plan to build a gondola ride and Roman ruins. Architects from Florence designed the dramatic looking restaurant, incorporating Florentine architecture, hand-painted Italian tiles on the tables, and imported ceramics.
The CEO of the restaurant group who opened Via Napoli, Nick Valenti, based the restaurant on his travels through Southern Italy. Valenti is obsessed about pizza, having spent time in Naples studying the art of dough, sauce, and crust at some of the city’s most famous pizzerias. He applies that same level of obsession to the pizza at Via Napoli in Disney World.
For instance, the pizza dough at Via Napoli is made with caputo flour from Southern Italy and spring water from Pennsylvania. Additional minerals are added to the Pennsylvania spring water in order to match the composition of Naples spring water as closely as possible.
Pizzas are briefly fired in one of the three wood-burning ovens. The ovens pay tribute to Italy’s three active volcanoes: Mt. Etna, Mt. Vesuvio, and Mt. Stromboli. Each face represents the Roman god after which the volcano is named.
Toppings are very authentic, like a Prosciutto and Melon Pizza, a simple Margherita Pizza, or the Capricciosa Pizza, which consists of tomato sauce, eggplant, artichokes, ham, mushrooms, mozzarella. The Capricciosa Pizza holds a special place in my heart because Bryan and I first discovered it when we dined at a restaurant in Rome (called “La Cappricciosa”)that claimed to be the inventor of the pizza.
Pizzas come in three sizes: individual pizzas (12 inches diameter) cost $19; large pizzas ( which are said to serve 2-3 people) cost $31. You can get even larger pan pizzas that serve 4-5 people, for $41 (like the large family is having above).
We decided to get a large pizza with two different toppings: a simple Margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil) and our beloved Capricciosa (tomato sauce, eggplant, artichokes, ham, mushrooms, and mozzarella).
The pizza was perfectly cooked, with a gorgeous thin and bubbly crust and perfect spotting on the bottom.
I loved the crust. That special flour and water really do make a difference! It was super thin, had excellent flavor, and perfect texture. We totally did not expect to eat the whole pizza (uhhh, meant to serve 2-3 people), but we did!
We just couldn’t stop eating it.
We had even ordered some Arancini ($11) to start, fried risotto balls filled with mozzarella & meat ragù. Frankly speaking, the arancini was fine, but underwhelming compared to the pizzas (and not as good as the ones at Basta Pasta, still among my favorites!).
I would just save your stomach space for the pizzas, which are really, really special.
If you’re in Disney World at Epcot Center, I would highly, highly recommend coming here. I think it is one of the best restaurants inside all four park. I was really impressed by the quality of the pizzas. They are among the best and most authentic Neapolitan pizzas I’ve had in the U.S.
Via Napoli Disney World
Italian Pavilion, Epcot Center