A while back I posted my top 5 pre-race dining options in Walt Disney World. As I predicted in that post, I made Via Napoli my pre-race dinner for the Princess Half Marathon. This was my first visit to Via Napoli and since I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about it, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I was staying optimistic and really excited about this meal.
We were a large group of 14 people. Luckily I was able to get a reservation for 8 people at 7:45 pm, and my friend Marc also got one for 6 people at the same time. We arrived half an hour early to make sure we could combine our reservations and hopefully all sit together. They gladly put the reservations together, but we would still have to wait until 7:45. It was insanely crowded in the waiting area for the restaurant. The line was out the door and people were being turned away if they didn’t have reservations. When the claustrophobia was about to set in, I went in to the desk to check on our status and thankfully they called my name as I was walking up!
We were split into 2 tables, but they were close by each other. First impression of the restaurant was that it was loud. VERY loud. Not only was the general dining room noise very loud, but there were a ton of celebrations going on that night. It seemed like the waiters were constantly coming out to sing to someone. Our waiter Max introduced himself with some serious Italian charm. Speaking of, every waiter in the restaurant was incredibly good looking…this can’t be what all Italians are like right?! Disney has some great casting for sure!
We had looked at the menu while we were waiting since we were all incredibly hungry, so we were ready to order right away. My friend Tiffany and I split the Calamari Fritti for an appetizer and I also went in on the family style salad with the group. For my entree, I decided to go with the Pollo Parmigiana, but here’s where things started getting difficult. The menu said that this dish came with roasted fingerling potatoes, which seemed like a strange pairing to me. In menus I had seen online, it was supposed to come with a spaghetti torta. I asked if I could substitute pasta for the potatoes and was told no. Really? That seems very unDisney like to me since the restaurants here are always so accommodating. Max told me that this request has been made before and the chef refuses to make the substitution. Interesting…
Then it was time for Katherine to order. She doesn’t eat a lot of meat and the vegetarian options on the menu are limited if you want something other than pizza. She just wanted spaghetti with marinara for her dinner, but only spaghetti with meatballs is on the menu. She asked if she would still have to pay the hefty $19 price tag if she didn’t get the meatballs and was told yes. Another shocking answer. After talking with his manager, Max came back and offered Katherine the meal from the kids menu. The portion was smaller, but she was happy with this solution. For the time being…
The calamari was really good. Some of the best I’ve ever had. The cornmeal crust was light and crunchy and the calamari was not chewy at all. It came with a side of spicy marinara sauce that was delicious. The sauce was great for dipping our bread in as well. Tiffany and I devoured the appetizer and I also had some of the family style salad, which had roasted red peppers and olives in a red wine vinaigrette. This was quite good as well.
The entrees came out fairly quickly after the appetizers. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed with my dish. The Pollo Parmigiana was a thin chicken breast topped with sauce and mozzarella, and there were just a few potatoes off to the side. The taste was quite good and the portion was just enough, especially after all of the appetizers. But I must say that for $26, I was expecting a little more. This was by far the most expensive chicken parm I have ever had, and it definitely wasn’t the best.
Three other people at the table ordered the Candele pasta. This is a baked pasta dish of candle stick pasta, sausage ragu, polpettine (meatballs), mozzarella and ricotta. Whoa. This dish looked great and everyone said it was amazing. I was just afraid it would be a bit too heavy the night before the race. The other dish at the table was a Margherita pizza, which also looked fantastic. The only issue was that it wasn’t properly cut and Marc was seriously struggling with it throughout the meal.
Now here is where the serious issues began. We asked for the check and that it be split up for our table of 8. To through another wrench in the mix, a few of us had Table in Wonderland, so he had to apply those discounts as well. This was apparently too much for Max to handle. To make a very long story short, we waited close to 30 minutes to get our check. Our friends at the other table (who had another waiter) were long finished and we were continuing to wait. We were all full, tired, and just wanted to get out of there so we could get a good night sleep for the race in the morning. We were ready to go and getting seriously cranky. Not a great way to end the night.
Then to top it all off, Katherine got violently ill on the way home from dinner. It was definitely food poisoning. The only thing she had that no one else did was the kids meal of spaghetti and marinara. Not something you want to have right before running a half marathon. I’m glad to report that she recovered well and actually got up to run the race the next morning. A superhero in my book!
So overall, dinner was good, but the service was atrocious. Here are my takeaways from this meal:
- Order the Calamari Fritti…delish!
- Stick with the pizza. Even though it is pricy for pizza, you will get the most bang for your buck.
- Don’t order off of the kids menu for fear of food poisoning.
- Tell your waiter up front if you are splitting the check so they have enough time to figure out the process.
- Don’t come here if you are looking for a nice quiet meal.
- Not sure if I would continue to recommend this for a pre-race meal. I might go with Mama Melrose or Il Mulino for a carb-loading Italian feast.
So what are your thoughts on Via Napoli? Have you been there for a pre-race meal? Would you go there in the future? I’d love to hear your experiences!