Tuesday marked a major milestone at Via Napoli at the Epcot Italy pavilion – 1 million pizza pies! Hand-tossed with a thin, slightly charred crust and toppings that start with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and fresh tomato sauce . . . this is the real deal under the watchful eye of pizza guy Charlie Restivo, who’s been throwing pies at Via Napoli since opening day.
“We opened in 2010, and computing the number of pizzas we bake every single day, today someone in the restaurant is enjoying the millionth,” says Restivo, who grew up in a big Italian family in Queens, N.Y. It might’ve been our prosciutto and melon pizza, every bite crisp and tinged with a smoky char. Or maybe our neighbor’s margherita, or the “affumicata,” a pie with mozzarella, smoked salmon, arugula, pomodorini (tomato sauce), stracchino (cow’s milk cheese).
The thin-crust pizzas are made with fresh mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes and real Caputo flour imported from Southern Italy. Water for the dough is even sourced from a spring similar to Italy’s Campania region. Pizzas are then cooked in serious – 800°F serious — wood-burning ovens cleverly named after the three active volcanoes in Italy—Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli.
The top pie is the margherita, says Restivo, and the all-American pepperoni runs a close second. But you can also get your choice of toppings (we’re partial to the Italian spice sausage and fresh mozzarella).
But the menu Via Napoli goes way beyond pizzas. The eggplant Parmesan is a specialty that Charlie learned as a boy from his dad, with paper-thin slices of eggplant lightly dredged in flour, pan fried, then served with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a generous ladle of “Sunday gravy,” red sauce. There’s veal, chicken, lasagna and classic spaghetti and meatballs – and if the linguine carbonara with a hint of truffle oil is the daily special, you won’t be disappointed.
You must continue the carb fest with dessert: there’s plenty to choose from, but learn to say “Coppa Brutti Ma Buoni” (“Ugly but Good”), a sweet ending that ranks in our top 10 desserts ever, a simple sundae with Amarena cherries, vanilla gelato and crunchy Italian meringue cookies.
Check out the video above, which was shot in 2011, of Restivo demonstrating his pizza throwing magic.
For reservations, 407-WDW-DINE. Via Napoli is open for lunch and dinner daily.