Taken from the home of freshness. That’s not some marketing spiel or exaggeration at Vapiano’s.
The pasta is so fresh in fact, we had a little demo of their pasta machine in action (which is specially made for them so you know they’re serious about this staple Italian ingredient). The best before date on my bag of campanelle pasta had next days date written on it (cook for 90 seconds, 3 minutes and you’ll ruin it was the advice – top tip).
Vapiano offer 11 different pasta types (I didn’t know there were so many varieties). Everything from traditional spaghetti to the popular kid campanelle to the healthier spelt variety. Pasta heaven.
It’s not just the pasta that’s made on site either. Everything from the dressings to the croutons (a fresh batch made from ciabatta bread are put in the oven as we have our pasta demo) are all made on the premises.
Vapiano ensures every new restaurant they open is large enough to handle the on site creation of everything they serve. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had a wee farm in the back for the livestock. I’m sure I heard some faint mooing and clucking in the back (I am of course kidding (it’s hard to convey that in text (insert tongue sticking out emoji here))).
We start with a large plate of Piatto Antipasti, a wonderful combination of prosciutto typo Parma, salami, pepperoni, roasted vegetables, pesto, Gran Padano D.O.P, buffalo mozzarella and bruscetta. I could have happily licked the plate clean myself while shouting ‘Timmy doesn’t share food!’ in true Joey from Friends fashion at the other Zomato guests. But I just about managed to surpress the urge.
Antipasti is nothing without quality bruscetta; Vapiano’s being so deliciously soft, the Police could use it to take fingerprints.
Vapiano’s chefs cook your meal in front of you at their stations, often two dishes at a time. This isn’t for novelties sake. Ever tried to tweak your meal (a little less of this, a little more of that) and feel the waiting staff don’t quite understand what you mean? Why not cut out the middle man and tell the chef exactly what you want.
The chef asked questions throughout the cooking process like adding garlic, chilli and parmesan cheese. The speed is frightening. I can’t have been waiting more than a few minutes for my Sacsiccia Con Fichi (Italian spicy sausages, figs, red onions and tomato sauce). Rest assured my meal was piping hot and fully cooked.
The portion sizes are what I’d serve at home; a massive bowl that needs to be carried with two hands. My Sacsiccia Con Fichi was £9.95, which is more than a fair price in London. I even left some in the bowl – gasp, you’re not sick Tim are you?! It was partly due to being full and partly due to knowing there would be more food to try. As a food blogger I’ve learned the art of what I like to call ‘strategic eating’™ (Chow, 2015).
Pizza was next. I pretty much lived on pizza on my four days in Rome – that’s how much I love Pizza.
Vapiano’s pizza dough is made everyday in the restaurant (arrivederci frozen bases). We had Pesto Con Spinachi (fresh spinach, pesto cream sauce, marinated tomatoes, mozzarella, £6.95), Diavolo (spicy Italian sausage, bell peppers, red onions, tomato sauce, mozzarella, £8.95) and Caprese (fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, buffalo mozzarella, £7.95). The rich tomato sauce and mozzarella were the stand out performers in this cast.
Vapiano’s pizzas are the non guilty type too. Thin bases, as opposed to a dense doughy can-feel-it-sitting-in-your-stomach-many-hours-after base from Pizza Hut for example, combined with fresh ingredients and toppings not covered in cheese meant I could have more desserts #winning.
Oh and how there were more desserts.
We had classic Italian sweets such as *takes deep breath* Panna Cotta (vanilla & cream topped with strawberry sauce), Tiramisu (coffee & liqeurs with a blend of mascarpone, cream and cocoa), Crema di fragola (mascarpone cream with fresh strawberries), Cioccolata Foresta Nera (layers of white, milk & dark chocolate with nutella, Italian sponge fingers topped with vanilla cream, Death by Chocolate (Italian styled chocolate cake) and Baked Cheesecake: classic lemon & vanilla cheesecake served with Strawberry sauce. *breathes again*.
It’s hard to pick a favourite so I won’t try. All of them would share the 1st place podium of the dessert Olympics *daydreams about attending an Olympic dessert*. Now I know what Hot Chocolate meant in their hit 1978 single.
Indulgent? Yes. But at least I had a salad to balance things out (that’s how dieting works right?).
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think strawberries in a salad would work (this is probably nothing ground breaking in the salad world, but I’m not a big salad person (I’m also Scottish so cue jokes about never having seen salad or fruit, never mind in one dish), but I was pleasantly surprised by the lip-licking sweetness the fruit gave it.
It’s the equivalent of a football manager making an eyebrow raising ‘WTF is he playing at?’ last minute sub, who then scores the winner. The strawberry might get all the glory and the man of the match award but the assist came from the raspberry-maple dressing. Maybe it’s time to give salad another chance.
And like a gift that keeps on giving, Vapiano offer a spoonful of gummy bears when you leave. I forgot to take a photo as I ate them on the train back home (there’s always space for gummy bears), but you’ve seen gummy bears before anyway right?
Quality fresh ingredients, a menu offering a wide variety of classic Italian combinations and dishes with fair prices to match, it’s hard to fault Vapiano. The Bankside branch is a stone’s throw away from my office too, ha!
And don’t think just because it was a #ZomatoMeetup I feel obliged to give Vapiano’s a good review. Read my review of Marco Pierre White’s slightly disappointing Steakhouse in The City.
Here are some more photos of Vapiano and the night, including a rare picture of me. Look at the concentration on my face as I take a photo of the pizza! You would think I was performing brain surgery or something!
The closest underground stations to Vapiano are London Bridge, Southwark and Borough.