Vapiano, South St David Street

After having a fantastic time at the Vapiano launch party, I was really excited to be invited back to try out a full meal. The launch party was a great night with food and drink everywhere you looked, but I was really excited to sit down, pick out a meal and find out exactly how Vapiano works.

The first thing you will notice when you walk into Vapiano is just how huge it is. It looks like a fairly small building on the outside but there are actually three floors – the place is super spacious! On the first floor you'll find the reception where you will be given your card (more on the card system later) and it is also the location of the wood-fire pizza oven and the starter bar. The next floor down has plenty of places to sit as well as the bar and desserts section. The final floor is where the pasta is at, the chefs cook it live in front of you and you can even see the pasta used in the kitchen being made fresh.

Vapiano operates on a card system. Upon arrival, each person is given their own card, which means you're free to bounce around the various stations ordering all the food and drink your heart desires and then it is collated to be paid when you leave. The fact that everyone has their own card makes splitting the bill with a large group of friends – or an awkward first date – so much easier. I know I spend about an hour after eating sorting through the bill with my friends, then asking for silly amounts to be paid on each card!

The best part about Vapiano is the fact that you can get your dish made exactly how you like it. Ideal for those picky eaters, or those of us, like me, who are a bit overly gluttonous and want cheese both mixed into pasta AND on top (why only have it on top...?). But if you particularly hate garlic or you want some extra chilli flakes added? All you do is let the cook know. It's also pretty fun getting to watch your pasta getting made in front of your very eyes. I have no issue with the system of going up to each desk to order food, but as your food is made right in front of you, you'll want to make sure you and your friends don't wait in the same queue for the same cook, or you'll be back at your table eating alone, waiting for your friends to get their meal.

A heck of a lot of antipasti and bruschetta

So as for what I ate... well we went just a tad overboard. For starters we all shared a huge antipasti plate, because who can go wrong with mozzarella and charcuterie. We also tried out a few of the bruschettas, all of which were delicious. The antipasti comes with pesto, something I'm a big fan of, and the Vapiano pesto is particularly good. It made me pretty sure which pizza I wanted to try...

Pizza with a side of pasta is never too much food

We all shared a couple of pizzas, my favourite of them was the Verdure. This veggie pizza is topped with fresh spinach, pesto cream sauce, marinated tomatoes and mozzarella. It's super fresh tasting and really delicious – like I said Vapiano do a great pesto. The menu features a variety of meat, fish and veggie toppings – so there's something for almost everyone.

Pasta porn

What goes great with pizza you might ask? Fries? Salad? Nope... PASTA! Why choose between the two? Go for both and then go home and lie in bed with your new food baby. The pasta I chose was a Salmon Carbonara, a classic. Like I said before, since I got to watch it being made, I was allowed to personalise it by picking the pasta type and anything I wanted added or removed. All I wanted was extra, extra cheese. The pasta was pretty delicious and was probably my highlight of the meal. I'm super keen to go back and try out a pasta with their pesto sauce ASAP.

While you might be thinking, can anyone eat any more? The answer is apparently yes because we even tried out the desserts. Located at the bar in the middle section of the restaurant, there are a variety of desserts to choose from. I went for the Cioccolata Foresta Nera which was layers of white, milk and dark chocolate with nutella and Italian sponge fingers topped with vanilla cream. Had I not already eaten so much food, I would have considered the pudding to be decadent yet not too heavy – perfect after a plate of pasta (maybe not a plate of pasta and pizza and bruschettas).

Overall I had a fantastic evening at Vapiano sampling their menu. It's definitely the kind of place I'd head to for after work food and drinks with a big group of friends, as everyone can go get what they want, when they want and we don't have to worry about splitting the bill. I'm keen to try out more of their pasta dishes from their extensive menu.

The new Vapiano opened on South St David Street and you can check out their website here.

Disclaimer: I was kindly invited for a complimentary meal by Vapiano but my review, as with all my reviews, reflects my own views and opinion.

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