It seems as though the worst kept secret in Lane Cove at the moment is Via Napoli, the buzzing authentic pizzeria serving up Naples style pizza that opened its doors late last year. I first noticed Via Napoli when I drove past on a Sunday night and saw that it was still absolutely packed even though it was quite late. It wasn’t a one-off either – pretty much every other time I’ve driven past Via Napoli it has been packed to the rafters no matter what time of the day it is. Obviously I was intrigued and after a quick Google search to see what all the fuss was about, I booked a table with a group of my friends to try out their metre long pizzas for my birthday dinner.
Most of the seating at Via Napoli is outside on the side walk, but they have recently renovated and upgraded their furnishings so there is some heavy duty plastic sheeting protecting you from the road and the elements outside while you dine. There’s not that much space, but they still manage to accommodate several big groups like ours (10 people) and we were happy to squish in together cosily as we looked through their extensive pizza menu. I had been worried that since we were a large group, we would have to do a set menu but luckily we could still order a la carte. It’s quite overwhelming to read the menu at first because there’s a lot of different flavours on the menu, but they are all really variations of the same main ingredients.
Salt and Pepper Calamari, $20
To start things off, I ordered a couple of plates of salt and pepper calamari with aioli (a daily special) for us to share before the pizzas came out. Our hungry group was happy to munch on the fresh calamari pieces which were encased in a crunchy batter and tasted even better with some lemon squeezed on top and dipped into the creamy aioli sauce.
For our mains, I had chosen 2 separate metre long pizzas to share along the length of the table and was delighted to find out that you can order up to 3 flavours for each metre long pizza. It’s a handy option to have in a group dining situation like tonight, making it much easier to cater for the different dietary preferences on the table. To maximise our options, I ordered 6 flavours over the 2 pizzas (of which I can only remember 5 now…) and they were:
- Marinara – surprisingly not a seafood option, but rather a simple vegetarian flavour with tomato, oregano, basil and garlic
- Storta va dritta vena – tomato, fior di latte (a type of mozzarella cheese), hot salami, mild salami, ham and basil
- Via Napoli – described as the owner Luigi’s fantasy pizza on the menu
- Salsicce e Friarelli - fior di latte, Italian sausage, broccoli, basil and chilli on a white base
- Crudo e rucola – fior di latte, prosciutto, parmesan and basil on a white base
1 metre long pizza, $62 (up to 3 flavours on each)
It wasn’t too long before the pizzas were brought out in all their metre long glory, which was impressive considering we had tried Criniti’s at Darling Harbour for their metre long pizzas before and it took almost an hour for the pizzas to come out there. I wasn’t completely sure which pizza flavours ended up on each of them, but I loved the taste of every slice! The toppings were quality and plentiful, bursting with flavour and complemented well by the thin yet sturdy base which had been slathered generously with tomato sauce or cheese depending on the flavour. The crusts of the pizza were slightly charred from the wood fired oven, but instead of detracting from the flavour it actually enhanced the smoky grilled flavour of the base.
To top off an already fantastic dinner, I was then surprised by a bunch of the waiters serenading me with a loud and hearty rendition of Happy Birthday in Italian complete with some tambourines and a cake organised by my friends. Definitely not an experience I’ll be likely to forget anytime soon – in a good way! In fact, I’d highly recommend Via Napoli for a birthday dinner because a good Italian birthday serenade is hard to come by in Sydney and surprisingly they don’t charge cakeage either for the privilege.
After polishing off 2 metres worth of pizza, my friends and I can see what all the fuss is about at Via Napoli. It’s safe to say that the crowds don’t lie at Via Napoli especially as it recently won the award for Best Pizza for the Good Food Under $30 awards. So if you’re looking for a fun night out with a group, Via Napoli definitely fits the bill as long as you book well ahead!
Via Napoli Pizzeria
3/141 Longueville Road
Lane Cove NSW 2060
Phone: (02) 9428 3297