Having recently been on a holiday to beautiful Sicily I had been craving good Italian food since my return, so when Italian restaurant Vapiano got in touch to see if I would like to come for a meal* I of course jumped at the chance! So my sister and I spent an evening at the Vapiano Bankside in Southwark.
Vapiano lives by an old Italian proverb, “Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano” (translation: “If you have an easy-going and relaxed approach to life, you’ll live more healthily and longer”) and have worked to offer their customers a relaxed, friendly atmosphere in which to enjoy good, freshly prepared food.
Vapiano does things a little differently to other restaurants. You’re given a swipe card on arrival (a bit like an Oyster card) which you use to register your order from the chefs who cook your meal exactly how you want it, right in front of you, then simply pay on your way out. This may strike you as being a bit odd; there may be a bit of awkwardness if you are on a date and are not sure if you’re doing dutch or not, but otherwise I actually found that it works well.
When you enter the restaurant you are overwhelmed with natural light which is lovely, as so many restaurants are a bit dark! There are fresh herbs and flavoured oils arranged on the beautiful wooden tables and the cooking stations right in front of you. Choose between high tables and stools, regular tables and chairs or more relaxed coffee tables and sofas.
The pasta is made fresh each day with their bespoke pasta machine (the manifattura) and their pizza dough, sauces and dressings are all prepared in-house. Every Vapiano restaurant around the world takes care of producing its own food fresh daily.
The menu has a great range of Italian classics from pasta, pizzas, antipasti to salads and to order you simply go up to the chef at the applicable station and ask him or her directly. They will then prepare your dish to order in front of you. This is great, especially for a vegetarian like me who is always keen to have extra cheese and garlic on my meal!
So, what did we try? To start we ordered the Antipasti platter which is made up of proscuitto, salami, pepperoni, roasted vegetables, homemade pesto, Grana Padano D.O.P, buffalo mozzarella and bruschetta, a good choice for us as I am vegetarian and my sister is a meat eater so we split the ingredients between us. My sister was enthralled with the various Italian meats which she described as delicious, particularly the salami. I really enjoyed the bruschetta in particular and took great joy in drizzling some delicious olive oil on top of the tomatoes before eating.
We both decided to have pasta for our mains, I went for the crema di funghi made with oyster and button mushrooms in a light white wine, cream sauce and I chose the tagliatelle and to have some extra garlic and cheese! My sister went for the salami e ricotta con rucola (salami, ricotta cheese, pine nuts, rocket, white wine), with penne pasta, having decided she hadn’t had enough of the salami in the starter! My tagliatelle was perfectly cooked and the mushrooms and cream were flavourful. My sister also enjoyed her dish of penne which went well with the sauce and of course she loved the salami. Both pasta dishes were of a generous portion.
Except for the delicious food, the best part of the whole experience was the theater of watching the chefs create the dishes right in front of you. Our pasta chef worked swiftly in front of my eyes making the two different pasta dishes at the same time on two different burners! She offered me the chance to add various ingredients into the dish such as garlic, chilli, fresh herbs and cheese which was great. I found it fascinating to watch her prepare the food, something that you normally don’t get to see at a restaurant.
To round off the meal we enjoyed a lovely latte each, the perfect way to finish off a really good experience. For it’s good service, delicious food and great atmosphere we award Vapiano Bankside 5 out of 5 stars and look forward to our next visit!