A few weeks ago - in an attempt to impress my boyfriend and prove to him that I am, in fact, a domestic goddess - I tried my hand at making my own pasta from scratch. Turns out pasta making is hard, and while it was utterly delicious, fresh pasta is best consumed when someone else has laboured over it. Luckily, fresh pasta is served daily at Vapiano on Wardour Street in Soho, so my fella and I headed there to see how it measured up to my efforts…
Venue and Atmosphere
Vapiano is not like other Italian restaurants. Guests enjoy face-to-face interactions with chefs as they cook their dish to order, exactly as they like it. Not a fan of garlic? No problem, you can leave it out. Fancy some extra spice? No problem, they’ll chuck in more chillies. Extra Chicken or King Prawns, you say? They’re yours, you just have to ask! All guests are given a chip card on arrival (a sort of foodie Oyster Card, if you will), using it to order both drinks and food. Once your food is cooked, it’s completely up to you where you sit. Think of this place like a really well decorated, chic canteen, complete with a bar to order a delicious array of drinks from, and tables high and low to accommodate both small and large parties.
Food & Drink
Before finding ourselves a table, my boyfriend and I joined the queue and began to ponder the menu. We ordered first at the antipasti station, choosing the platter for two (£12.99). We watched as the chef prepared the large plate, adding a selection of quality Italian meats, a whole Buffalo mozzarella with grilled vegetables, bruschetta & Grana Padano with baked ciabatta. We tapped one of our cards and went to find ourselves a table downstairs. We poured a healthy glug of olive oil and balsamic onto the plate and began dipping the ciabatta, while alternating mouthfuls of rich, salty meat and fresh grilled vegetables. The mozzarella was creamy and the bruschetta deliciously sweet with tomato juice.
Once we scoffed the entirety of the sharing plate, it was time to return to the counters and order our main dishes. There are a selection of vegetarian and vegan options, with all of the pasta void of any animal produce, so you can easily customise most dishes to suit your dietary requirements.
I opted for the Gamberetti E Spinichi (£11.29) made before my eyes with linguini in an oiled pasta wok (is that a thing?), with King prawns, basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, onions, spinach, cream, Grana Padano D.O.P. I asked for it a little spicy, so the chef chucked in a few fresh chillis, and I refused the offer of garlic (I was on a date, after all!). My fella on the other hand opted for the tomato based Gamberetti (£11.29) also with King prawns, tomatoes, spring onion, tomato sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon. We returned to our table with our pasta generously topped with parmesan and began the ritual of spinning long strands of beautiful, fresh pasta onto our forks and inelegantly slurping it into our mouths. Mine was creamy and light; the prawns sweet and juicy and the cherry tomatoes exploded with juice, while his was rich with thick tomato sauce.
To wash it down, he went for a pint of Moretti (£5.95), while I chose the Martini Royale (£5.95) made with Martini Bianco, Prosecco, lime and mint, a delicious and refreshing classic Italian aperitif.
While there is something extremely rewarding about home cooking, nothing can beat the stress-free enjoyment of an excellent meal where the food is just as fresh and cooked with just as much love. That’s what Vapiano provides, and anyway, who needs a domestic goddess girlfriend anyway when she can just take you out for tasty meals like this?