Last Friday the Patina Restaurant Group opened a new, 14,000 sq. ft. casual dining and pizzeria this week, called Via Napoli, in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. This becomes the first authentic Italian pizzeria to ever open in the park.
The grand opening featured a comedic grape stomping and Italian sing-along by the Ziti sisters, whose robust personalities engaged guests before Mickey and Minnie Mouse appeared in their horse-drawn carriage for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Our guests have enjoyed excellent, traditional Italian cuisine and first-class service at Tutto Italia and we’re proud to be the location of the Patina Restaurant Group’s newest location,” said Dan Cockerell, vice president of Epcot. “Working with the Patina Restaurant Group has provided an opportunity to build on our long-term relationship and provide a unique, high-quality and authentic experience for our guests.”
Restaurateur and longtime Patina Restaurant Group CEO Nick Valenti created the Via Napoli concept, based upon his travels in Southern Italy and his time developing and overseeing the successful Naples 45 Ristorante e Pizzeria in New York. While in Naples, Valenti spent time studying the art of dough, crust, sauce and oven temperatures at the famous pizzerias Da Michele and Trianon. He also discovered after a trip to Naples that the secret to perfect Neapolitan pizza was in the water.
“Similar to Disney, Patina Restaurant Group is committed to providing our guests with authentic, high-quality, themed experiences. I am delighted to be bringing a true passion of mine – the art of authentic Neapolitan pizza – to the guests of Walt Disney World,” Valenti said before officially opening the new restaurant.
Via Napoli features a selection of classical Neapolitan pizzas, ranging from pizza bianca, quattro stagioni, piccante, ortolano and a traditional margherita. Famed Pizzaiolo Charlie Restivo serves as executive chef at Via Napoli, where he crafts the pies using simple and delicious Italian ingredients such as San Marzano tomatoes, Caputo flour, handmade fresh mozzarella, Parma Cotto, crumbled sausage and water calibrated specifically to the pH found in Naples.
A unique feature at Via Napoli are the wood-burning ovens, which are named after the three active volcanoes in Italy – Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli. Each oven is sculpted with the “face of the volcano” — reflecting the gods whose mythology surrounds each volcano’s history.
Cockerell also noted the traditional feel inside the Italian pizzeria, “The Walt Disney Imagineers, along with Florentine architect Stefano Nardini of Magris & Partners, went to great lengths to make the restaurant feel genuine. Look at the art, the colors, the glass – it all takes cues from Italy.”
During the upcoming 15th Annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival, guests visiting the World Showcase will also be able to dine at Via Napoli and a new waterside 12,000 sq. ft. Mexican restaurant called “La Hacienda,” shop at a new exclusive Givenchy shop at the France pavilion, eat tasty sweets at a caramel shop called, Karamelle-Küche at the Germany pavilion, as well as drink Radeberger beers.