Having just returned from a fabulous trip eating and drinking my way around Italy, I was delighted to be invited by Vapiano to try their fresh, made-to-order Italian in Soho with my friend Adam on an otherwise boring Tuesday evening.
There are Vapianos all over the world (152 of them) and in London they serve 27,000 people a week, so they must be doing something right.
The Soho restaurant is enormous, spread over 2 floors with the kitchens and seating upstairs and the bar and mroe seats underneath. The concept is simple, just go to one of the counters and order your pizza, pasta, antipasti and a host of other dishes, and it will be made freshly in front of you. There’s definitely something lovely about watching your meal being cooked, the chefs deftly throwing in all manner of fresh ingredients and you having total control over exactly what goes into your dish. More oil, bit more chilli, yep that’s fine, wait – no onion! Etc etc. It’s fun. You pay via a card that they give you on entry, every thing you order gets put onto the card then you pay the total as you leave.
It was extremely busy when we went, but we found a corner downstairs and settled in with some Aperol Spritzes – very good start. The antipasti plate was delicious, with a good selection of meats, lovely fresh bruschetta and creamy mozzarella.
We then went for the Boscaiola pizza, which was beef fillet, gorgonzola, rocket and caramelised onions. They give you a buzzer so you can come and get it when it’s ready. It was farily dark and I’ve never had much luck photo’ing pizza so it looked much lovelier than it does here! The beef was really tender and the base lovely and thin. The whole thing was rich, but when you order something covered in meat and cheese it would be. It did come with artichokes which we didn’t ask for, but never mind, all good!
We then sampled the pasta, where you choose everything from the grain and shape to the sauce to the toppings. We had prawns, basil pesto and spinach, with a bit of chilli and parmesan. I stood queuing for it for about 25 minutes leaving Adam waiting on his own which was a bit annoying, but it was extremely good, really fresh pasta and a very generous portion.
The vibe is pretty buzzy, with a mix of tourists and people finishing work, and it’s very pretty with pots of basil everywhere and an olive tree in the middle of the staircase. It’s not quite at the top of the special occasion list but I would 100% go back to Soho Vapiano for a casual Italian dinner that’s quick (if it’s not busy), reasonable and very good food.
*We were guests of Vapiano