The first time I visited Via Napoli, I wasn't particularly impressed. Heading out on a Friday night for a friend's birthday, a booking had been made, including a request for one of their quieter tables. Being the first to arrive, I didn't mind that the table wasn't ready as I was a couple of minutes early. Once the birthday girl had arrived, and our wait ticked on towards the 20 minute mark, I wasn't as nonchalant.
Once a table became available, we squeezed our way into the minuscule space in the midst of the lively action - the tables that had been placed together for us wobbling on the uneven pavement. From the moment we were seated, I felt rushed. The waitstaff, a little stressed by the crowds, seemed impatient as we made our way through the menu, asked for translations on dishes we didn't know, and tried to catch up on each other's news while making our choices. Once we ordered, the food started coming incredibly quickly, and the small tables became laden and difficult to navigate.
The food, on that first visit, was good - a high quality pizza base, on par with others that I've found in Haberfield, and the six of us enjoyed a couple of entrees and pizza crusts, along with a metre long pizza - a good amount of food for those saving room for cake that, thankfully, was going to be served in the quiet and calm of a friend's house after being raced through our dining experience.
My second visit was a different story. Stranded in Sydney by accident-induced traffic on the M4, we needed a ridiculously early dinner destination before starting the 90 minute drive home. We arrived at Via Napoli close to 5:30pm on a Tuesday evening without a booking and were seated in a quieter area of the restaurant, a little further down the street to the main area of tables. Remembering that my favourite dish from my previous visit was the pizza crust (schiacciate $12), this garlic version was a must-order.
While the crust on my first visit had been very good, this one was the best I've had in Sydney. Chewy-doughy gorgeousness of crust, with a not-too-crispy base, this pizza is worth the accolades it receives.
Having said that, the involtini di melanzane $15 on my first visit was worth branching out for. Its prosciutto, ricotta, pine nuts and raisins, all rolled in grilled eggplant, was moreish and melted in the mouth.
However, it's for sights like this that I will return:
Boy's diavola pizza $20, had me salivating, and it was only his sneaky ordering of a pizza with super-hot salami that kept me at bay. Despite my heat-fear, I did manage at least a couple of pieces, and was in pizza delight.
For those, like me, who wish to make a visit to Via Napoli, I'd suggest eating at an unusual hour. In my experience, the food was of a higher quality when the kitchen wasn't under the full strain of their busiest times, and the experience as a whole is more enjoyable. Both times I visited, the vibe was lively, with the Italian waitstaff being their outgoing selves. Also keep in mind that the proximity of the tables to each other (and the enormity of a metre-long pizza) doesn't make this a date-destination.
Via Napoli Pizzeria
Cnr Longeville Road and Austin Street
View Larger Map