Well, we finally made a visit to Via Napoli this weekend for lunch. It is the newest restaurant at Epcot and is operated by the same folks who manage Tutto Italia; the Patina Restaurant Group.

Via Napoli is the first pizzeria to open at Epcot and judging by the crowds and the food it is sure to be a hit.

I have always loved the beauty of a simple Neapolitan pizza. 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.
Nick Valenti, Patina Restaurant Group CEO

The restaurant offers a wide variety of items, including the requisite kids menu, in an open and airy dining space that creates a welcoming, albeit loud, atmosphere to enjoy your meal.

Since it was so hot this weekend, we started our meals with a nice Aqua Fresca. A signature fruit beverage that comes in a couple of flavors; lemonade, blood orange and strawberry. We sampled one of each and they were very refreshing.

Since it is a traditional pizza joint, we had to get one of their signature pizzas. They offer several differing toppings, but since I love the carciofi (mozzarella and artichoke hearts) at Tutto Italia, I figured I would try their pizza version. We also placed orders for the Eggplant Parmigiana and the kids Spaghetti and Meatballs.

The pizza arrived a little bit ahead of the other entrees and smelled wonderful. The aroma of the cheese and garlic was complimented nicely with the artichoke hearts. While the Eggplant Parmigiana looked the way Remy would serve his famous ratatouille; thinly sliced and elegantly presented. Finally, the kids Spaghetti and Meatballs was a simple serving with miniature meatballs.

Since this was our first dining experience at Via Napoli, we also got a couple of the desserts to finish off a wonderful meal. We ordered: chocolate gelato, Coppa Di Brutti Ma Buoni and the Zeppole Di Catarina. All of these desserts were just as tasty as the entrees. The gelato was creamy and delicious while the Coppa Di Brutti Ma Buoni (ugly but good cookies) was an assemblage of vanilla gelato, Amarena cherry, and cookies. The cookies had the consistency of the traditional Amaretto cookies you can find at your fine food shops, but with a light sugary/chocolate flavor. Growing up in an Italian household, my grandma used to make all kinds of Italian delicacies, one of which was zeppoles. These zeppoles were served in a paper cone with enough chocolate and whipped cream to provide a sugar rush to finish our day at the park.

All of the food is amazing and the atmosphere is wonderfully inviting. The kitchen is open and offers three different themed ovens where you can watch all the cooking. The one thing that struck me, however, was the price.

Being a pizza parlor, I was expecting the prices to be a bit more reasonable. The prices, however, are on par with what you would pay at Tutto Italia. This strikes me as odd for two reasons: the first is that it is a pizza parlor and second with prices comparable to the finer dining at Tutto Italia what is the reasoning for dining at Via Napoli?

Now they can argue that the dining is just as fine as the other with a different ambience and that is a perfectly valid argument. My question as a customer, however, would be why wouldn’t you cover the spread of customers and offer a more modest pricing structure for what is a more family-style dining experince.

When you dine at Puglia’s in Little Italy, in New York, you don’t pay the same price as S.P.Q.R. even though both offer Italian food and are located in the same area. I had expected a more reasonable check for the meal; the cost for our fairly modest came out to just over $120, before the tip.