Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Via Napoli



For many, myself included, one of the allures of visiting Epcot’s World Showcase is being able to taste the native food of the countries represented.  With so many amazing and unique choices it may come as a surprise that one of my favorite meals in all of Walt Disney World is pizza!  I know what you’re thinking—pizza is nothing special, just a fast and easy meal for those busy nights when you don’t have time to cook.  But at Via Napoli is an experience in itself, and it is one you shouldn’t miss!


Quattro Formaggi Pizza with Strawberry Acqua Fresca
Via Napoli is one of the newer dining establishments at Epcot and can be found in the back of the Italy pavilion.  This pizzeria ristorante opened in the late summer of 2010 and I was fortunate enough to visit that same year during the first weekend of October.  I was traveling with my husband, his brother, mom, and aunt.  We’re a pretty tough crowd to please; 3 of us have worked in restaurants and my husband and his brother have several friends that are chefs.  This family knows good food. 
Because it was a blistering hot day, my attention was immediately drawn to the Acqua Fresca (“signature house-made seasonal fruit coolers”) so prominently displayed at the server stations throughout the dining room.  The pink, orange, and yellow looked so cool and refreshing.  It would seem that I was not alone in this thought—between the 5 of us all three flavors of strawberry, blood orange, and lemon were ordered.  I like strawberry the best!  Just remember that no refills are offered for this beverage.  You can see my glass in the top right corner of the picture above. 


Strombolli, Vesuvio, and Etna
Once I was settled in at the table I got a chance to look around and really take in my surroundings.  You can’t help but notice how bright and open it is, but with the use of earthy paint colors and frescoed walls it retains a welcoming hominess.  With tall ceilings and an open kitchen the room is a bit noisy, but we didn’t mind.  In fact, I think it added to the family feeling I enjoy so much when dining in an Italian eatery.  We were certainly able to carry a conversation and that’s really all I ask in a family restaurant.  But the real pride of Via Napoli is the three wood-fired ovens.  They even have names:  Strombolli, Vesuvio, and Etna.  Do you know what those names have in common?  That’s right!  They’re all the names of active volcanoes in Italy!  And they’re not just for show.  Every pizza made in this restaurant is cooked in one of these ovens!  It gives such a great flavor but more on that in a bit.


Now it is well known that people have strong opinions when it comes to their pizza.  The Chicago vs. New York debate will never end.  But don’t forget where it all started.  Naples, Italy is the birthplace of pizza, and Via Napoli has gone to great strides to match the pizza found across the sea.  On the menu you will find this description of their pizzas:  Caputo flour imported from Naples, San Marzano tomatoes, handmade fior di latte mozzarella, water from our own wells identical to the water found in Naples to make our pizza as authentic and delicious as that found on the streets of Naples.”  That part about the water is important!  Many experts claim the water used for pizza dough is the key!


Margherita Pizza
We were using the Disney Dining Plan, which entitled us to one entrĂ©e or individual pizza, a non-alcoholic beverage, and dessert.  Four of us got the pizzas.  Let me tell you, they are labeled as individual pizzas but they’re not skimpy on the size!  It was more than enough for us.  The pizzas come out with a thin crust, but not too thin.  They’re bubbly and have just a slight char on the bottom.  I will say that I am picky about my food having a “burnt” taste, so I was a bit apprehensive about this.  I found it to be just the right balance.  A bit of char to add flavor, but not so much that you felt you were eating food that was burnt.  But if your kids are going to be afraid of the black on the bottom of the pizza, keep this in mind.  We all decided to get different pizzas so we could sample.  They were all winners!  I will say I prefer the simple Margherita pizza. 


Linguini Frutti di Mare
My husband was the oddball and decided to get pasta.  I’ll admit that when they brought out his dish I felt it seemed small in comparison to the size of pizza we all had.  That bowl is deceptive though!  There was a lot more food in there than we originally thought.  His dish was the Linguini Frutti di Mare (shrimp, clams, mussels and squid tossed in marinara picante).  A good decision on his part, and since he is nice and shares I got to sample it as well.  It was fabulous! 


I’ll be honest—I don’t remember much about everyone else's desserts.  I know we all got something different.  And I know they must have looked delicious too because I forgot to take pictures when they came to the table.  We all just dived in!  I do remember my dessert:  Zeppole di Caterina (Ricotta cheese fritters, served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce).  Basically, they were fluffy little donut holes with chocolate sauce.  Yummy!!!


When we were finished everyone was stuffed to the gills, but we left with a smile on our face!  Via Napoli is great for the foodies and the families that visit Walt Disney World and I especially felt it was a great deal on the Disney Dining Plan.  If you’re paying out of pocket this should be a top choice too because you can order some larger pizzas for the table.  If you want some authentic Italian food but have picky kids, just tell them you’re going for pizza!  I promise you’re getting the real deal here!     


Aubrey

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