Vapiano Ballston


Originally uploaded by tbridge.

When my friend Jonathan told me about Vapiano, I wasn’t sold til I heard about the gimmick. I mean, I like Italian food, who doesn’t, but it’s got to have a hook to make it worth my while as part of the repertoire of places that I go for delicious foodstuffs. See, Vapiano’s really just a glorified cafeteria. You walk in, you order your food from a small menu at pasta and pizza stations, and they made it while you wait and watch, then you grab a table with your friends and sit down.

The gimmick is this: when you walk in, you get a Chipcard. That chipcard is your bill, that you take with you everywhere in the place. Bring in two people, or two dozen and everyone gets Chipcards, so settling up the tab is as simple as checking out at the counter, no need to worry about who sucks at math, who always undertips, etc. That much is certainly worth it.

The food itself? It’s good but not great. The fusilli carbonara was rich and cheesy, but missing something that I couldn’t put my finger on, and the ravioli was fresh, but just off its game. They do make the pasta fresh in the restaurant, which I appreciated, but the various preps for the types of pasta seems…too prepared in advance. Either give me the illusion you’re making it from scratch, or don’t present me with the ugly truth.

The other matter is drinks. $2 for an 8oz. bottle of Coke? You’re kidding, right? In this town of free refills? Charlatans. The Peroni on tap? Nice touch. But seriously, no fountain sodas?

Vapiano’s got two locations in the DC area, one in Ballston on Wilson at Glebe Road, and just open, at 1800 M St. NW in DC, and a third location in Chinatown, come August. It’s worth a trip, just to see how they operate.

3 Comments so far

  1. Ex-Hy Hy (unregistered) on June 6th, 2007 @ 9:31 am

    How are the prices? Usually Italian = overpriced. This sounds like a glorified cafeteria and one shouldn’t expect to pay more than $6 for a vegetarian lunch. Well?

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on June 6th, 2007 @ 9:56 am

    The prices range, for pasta, from $6 to $10 per entree.

  3. Ex-Hy Hy (unregistered) on June 6th, 2007 @ 11:20 am

    Cool. I’ll check it out one of these days as it’s just around the corner from work. It’s always nice to mix it up.

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