On our first night in Orlando, some of the Moms from the Walt Disney World Moms Panel had decided to do a quick meet up at Via Napoli. It was all 2009 Moms, and we figured with all the events of the weekend that were planned, it would be one of the few times we’d get a chance to catch up with each other.
As you know if you’ve ever made reservations for a large party at Walt Disney World, they do not guarantee you will be seated at the same table. In our case, they gave us 4 tables, but they separated the tables so that there were 2 tables pushed together, a space, then another 2 tables pushed together. This made for 2 very distinct parties at dinner, even though we were all one group. It was virtually impossible for those of us at one table to co-mingle with those people seated at the other table, even though they were right next to each other.
We all placed our orders at the same time – some people ordered pasta dishes, some ordered pizzas to share, and salads and appetizers were ordered. Then food began coming out in all sorts of weird sequence. We got our fried calamari appetizer at the same time that the folks at the other table got their salad. We also ordered salad, but our salad was delivered to the other table, and because it was assumed it came with the meal, the other table enjoyed the salad. Eventually, a salad was brought to our table, at the same time that some (but not all) of the pasta dishes began to arrive. Finally, when everyone was finished eating – except for those of us that ordered pizza – we started asking about the pizza. Eventually, it was brought to the table, but by then, the meal had already gone into it’s second hour, and the part of our party that had already eaten was ready to head out to get some sleep for their big race the next morning. This was definitely not a meal conducive to enjoyable conversation, nor did it allow us all to eat together.
Okay, so how’s the food?
The fried calamari, as it was on my first visit, is delicious. You’ll know if you’ve had gastric bypass surgery that some calamari can be overcooked to the point that you can’t swallow it, but this is not the case here. The calamari is delicately breaded, fried to a crisp outside, not chewy inside perfection, and served with a very good (not great, but very good) marinara sauce in which you can dip these delicious morsels.
The salad is good, not overly dressed, but again, nothing special. If you want the family style salad, it adds $4 per person to your bill, but it does make a nice complement to the pizza.
And the pizza! That’s what you’ll come here for, after all! You will find other pasta dishes, but if you want a true taste of Italy, it is here, in the pizza.
The wood fired pizza ovens are a sight to behold, and you might want to run in even if you don’t have a reservation just to view them – they are wonderful! But they pale in comparison to the expertly prepared, authentically Italian pizza that comes from them.
The pizza margherita, which we ordered specifically for the kids, has a thin crust, not chewy and dense, so it makes it a very easy crust for many gastric bypass patients to enjoy. The sauce is so fresh, it absolutely pops – you can smell the tomatoes almost as if you were chopping them at home yourself. The mozzarella cheese isn’t shredded, so each bite offers a nice mouthful of fresh mozzarella. And the added bonus of fresh basil just makes this one of the best pizzas I’ve had since I was in Naples (Italy, not Florida). To paraphrase Paula Deen, this pizza is so good, it will make you want to slap your Mama Mia!
The other pizza we tried was the Pizza Piccante. I worried a little about this pizza, because sausage can be a tough item to get into a gastrically altered tummy, but this was perfect! It wasn’t terribly fatty, and I found no hard, gristly pieces in the sausage. It was spicy, but not too spicy, and in small enough chunks that it didn’t overpower the freshness of the other ingredients. The broccoli rabe on top of the pizza was well cooked, although I think I would have liked to see a little less of the bitter green on top of the pizza. It was a delicious addition, but the bottoms of the stalks are a bit denser and were not as tender to eat, so more than a bite of them on the pizza made it hard for me to enjoy. I’d recommend the pizza whole heartedly, but for the gastric bypass patient, I’d ask them to go light on the broccoli rabe.
Thank you, Zannaland for this photo, and check out her review at http://zannaland.com/via-napoli-revisted-more-than-just-pizza/
Overall, this is an excellent dining option if you are going just for the food. There is plenty for you to eat whether or not you’ve had surgery, and everything is fresh and delicious.
However, I just can’t see my family going here on many Walt Disney World vacations. It eats up way too much time during a theme park day, and having our meal with friends end up so scattered and disjointed didn’t make for an enjoyable evening.
This place gets an A+ for food, but definitely takes a hit on service with a D.
Don’t forget – check out my friend Suzannah’s blog on Via Napoli to get another opinion!