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Via Napoli opens at Epcot

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
Via Napoli opened at Epcot on Thursday, and Vance Cope covered the grand opening festivities for MousePlanet. We'll have a longer story coming in the next week, but I wanted to post Vance's first impressions for you since you can now make reservations to dine there. Here's what Vance had to say:

On Thursday, August 5, I was able to attend a media preview of the newest Disney/The Patina Group restaurant, Via Napoli, which is located at the rear of Epcot's Italy pavilion. Via Napoli, which will be a table service-only restaurant, specializes in authentic Neapolitan pizza fresh from their wood-burning ovens, along with several other classic Italian dishes.

The outside of the restaurant has a very welcoming feeling and blends in nicely with the rest of the pavilion, though it does seem to look more modern than its sister restaurant, Tutto Italia, located next door. The interior has a very open feeling, with high ceilings and lightly colored walls with framed art on them. The majority of the restaurant consists of individual tables that could sit a normal party of 4 or 6. The exceptions to this are a long bench seat against the far wall with tables that are movable, so that they can accommodate various size parties, and one very long “family” table that looks as if it could sit up to 20-25 people depending on how closely the chairs are put together, to sit large groups or possibly solo diners. I thought the room overall was very nicely put together and was very family friendly, but not a quiet place for a romantic dinner as the restaurant did seem loud.

The pizza kitchen is open to the dining room so that you can watch the chefs create your dinner. It contains three pizza ovens with sculpted faces by the names of Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna, named for Italy's three active volcanoes. The pizza itself is really unique and totally different from what you might find around Walt Disney World in its freshness and, most notably, its crust. The Patina Group has taken special care to use water that closely matched the quality and mineral content found in Naples, Italy, which gives the crust a crispy and chewy texture at the same time. To add even more authenticity to their pizzas, they have imported Caputo flour from Naples, San Marzano tomatoes and handmade mozzarella. Those that have never eaten a pizza from a wood burning stove may find the crust has a burnt taste to it, but I found it really good and thought that it added a lot of flavor to the slices I tasted.

Available in three different sizes, there are nine different types of pizza available on the menu from your basic Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) to those much more complex like the Prosciutto e Melone (fontina, mozzarella, pecorino, prosciutto, and cantaloupe). I also had the chance to sample some of the appetizers, desserts, and drinks available at Via Napoli while at the event and thought that overall they were really good. The signature drink of the restaurant is the Acqua Fresca, available in Limonata, Blood Orange, and Strawberry, which are described on the menu as “seasonal fruit juice coolers” and will be quite refreshing on a hot day.

One of the appetizers available at Via Napoli that is meant to be shared by a whole table of dinners is the Fritto Misto which is an assortment of fried vegetables, fish, cheese and Arancini. The vegetables tasted very fresh and the batter that they were fried in added a nice crunch and saltiness. The Arancini (which are also available as their own appetizer) are fried risotto balls with a crunchy exterior and a soft interior filled with mozzarella and meat ragu. From the dessert menu, I sampled the Zeppole di Caterina (ricotta cheese fritter served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce) -- which tasted like a really good donut -- and the Gelato Frizzante, which is an “Italian Style” ice cream soda. Via Napoli also has an extensive list of wines, cocktails, and alcoholic signature drinks.

Open now for walk ups, Advance Dining Reservations are now available to book for all dates starting September 10.
Thanks, Vance! I can't wait to try it. What about you folks?

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