Via Napoli – home of Sydney’s renowned two metre long pizzas. It’s been on my Good Food Under $30 challenge list for a few months and my desire to go has only increased since K and I did our pizza class.
Then! K’s Chilean colleague ate there with his Italian girlfriend and they enjoyed it so much that they decided to make a large group booking for all their colleagues and partners too. And so, I found myself with two dozen loud and boisterous South Americans (K works for a company where every second person speaks Portugese or Spanish) and we descended upon Via Napoli one Friday evening, to add our laughter and shouting to the frenetic atmosphere of the restaurant.
The restaurant has been split into two – a front area with the bar, and a back area with two big pizza ovens and a dozen small tables crammed together. They also take over the sidewalk with two dozen tables, so that you dodge waiters and diners alike as you walk past the restaurant – it’s always very noisy, with loud shouting in Italian, and drinking and laughter from diners.
As we walk in to take our seats (no small feat, as we manage to squeeze two dozen people onto a table meant for eighteen!), we pass the ovens and all the impressive pizza-making implements – in particular, the impressive two metre long pizza stone used to cook the pizzas. The chatty pizza chefs keep the kitchen laughing and call out to us diners as we walk past – a convivial buzz fills the whole restaurant.
As we are such a large group, we opted for a set menu ahead of time. As soon as we sit down, food starts coming out, plate after plate, platter after platter. We start off with the Insalata Mista, a simple salad of mixed leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, oil and balsamic vinegar and the Rucola e Pera, a rocket and pear salad with balsamic reduction. The salads are fantastically light and just enough to get our appetite started!
Next, we try a range of taglierini di prosciutti e salumi (charcuterie) with five different cuts of meat as well as two dishes that aren’t on the menu – zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and cheesy arancini balls. The charcuterie board was absolutely top-notch – each of the cold cuts were fresh, and very more-ish. The zucchini flowers were very subtle, and was a perfect taster.
We finished our meal with just over half a dozen metre long pizzas – what decadence! Each pizza was split into thirds with different flavours on each third – Margherita (tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil & olive oil), Siciliana (tomato, fior di latte, eggplant, basil & parmesan) and Crudo e Rucola (fior di latte, prosciutto parma, rocket, parmesan & basil on a white base).
One thing’s for sure – they certainly don’t skimp on the ingredients for their pizzas! Each slice was so laden with toppings that you almost need to eat one half of the toppings before even attempting to pick up the rest of the slice. At $62 per metre long pizza, you would hope that you get your money’s worth though!
Overall, I rate Via Napoli an 8 out of 10 – the service was fast, the staff welcoming, the atmosphere inviting, and the food worth a second visit. By far the most memorable part of the night was the company though - Via Napoli is the type of restaurant that’s best visited with a large group of gregarious friends who want to drink and laugh the night away!