As many of you will know, I adore Italian food. Bread, cheese, meat, fresh herbs and vegetables, I mean, what’s not to love? Last week I tried out a restaurant which is taking a unique spin on Italian dining, called Vapiano. Originally established in Germany in 2002, it now has over 150 restaurants across Europe, and I visited one of the three London branches, in Southwark.
Upon arrival we were each given a card which we were told the food and drink would be charged to, which we needed to keep hold of, and we would then pay at the till on our way out. There are three main ‘sections’ to the restaurant, a pizza counter, a pasta counter and a drinks/dessert bar. You order your food/drink from each section, hold up your card to the scanner, and your order is added to the bill. And what’s great about the open plan layout at Vapiano is that you can see your food being prepared right in front of you. The chefs will whip up your pizza or pasta, and can adapt it as you would like, choosing from a large variety of different pasta types. There are also lots of herbs and sauces on the counter to personalise your dish as you see fit.
The design of the restaurant is a nice mix between modern and rustic Italian style, with gorgeous wooden benches. Which fits the overall vibe of the restaurant, combining a modern way of ordering food with traditional Italian dishes.
We started off with a large platter of Antipasti, all of which was very tasty (especially the bruschetta!), along with a beer and glass of wine from the bar.
For our main course, we thought we’d try one pizza dish and one pasta dish, and share to get the best of both worlds. We went for the Calzone (with ham, spicy sausage, mushrooms, mixed herbs, onions, tomato sauce and mozzarella) and the Scampi (with king prawns, tomatoes, fresh vegetables and white wine).
The calzone was pretty big, with a generous filling inside. The spicy sausage was actually a bit too spicy for me, which I was really surprised by, as I haven’t ever been outfaced by the level of spice in Italian food. It was still very enjoyable though.
The pasta was easily our favourite. The flavours all tasted so fresh and there was a generous portion of prawns mixed into the perfectly cooked tagliatelle.
For dessert, we went for the Panna Cotta with strawberry sauce and the Cioccolata Foresta Nera (layers of white, milk and dark chocolate with Nutella, Italian sponge fingers and topped with vanilla cream). I’m not sure about this current trend of using kilner jars for serving food (I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts!) but it made a bit more sense in this case, although I did miss the trademark ‘wobble’ of the panna cotta on the plate.
For me, there is something a bit jarring about the experience at Vapiano, because in my mind, Italian dining is supposed to be about sitting back, relaxing and taking time over your food, whereas this experience felt quite fast paced. Personally I don’t think that I would visit again for dinner, but it would be absolutely perfect for lunch, especially for business meetings. Tim also suggested it could be a good venue for a first date, as it’s quite a casual atmosphere, and seeing as each person gets their own card to order with, the issue of ‘who should pay’ is slightly easier. I’m not sure how my husband thought of this, considering we’ve been together for 10 years and we never even went on a first date, but hey, I’ll let that one slide 😉
To find out more about Vapiano, you can visit the website here.
I was invited to review Vapiano by Tonic Communications and Vapiano but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.