vapiano (ballston) report
the first of the german italian chain 'vapiano' had its grand opening in ballston today. i had been excited about the possibility of cheap, high quality italian food and have been reading about the chain onlin for weeks. most of the reviewers have visited the chain's restaurants in europe, and were not impressed.
however, my friend and i had a really good time and delicious food at the new place in ballston.
when you walk into the restaurant they hand you a card with a computer chip in it. next you walk (past a garden of fresh herbs and an olive tree) up to various stations (salad, pasta, pizza, and bar) and order food and swipe your card. when youre done, you swipe the card again and pay all at once. very nice for a large crowd, no more splitting the bill.
i started out with the salame pizza (pepperoni pizza), which i should have left off the pepperoni and ordered just a margherita. the crust was delicious and the cheese and sauce good. this wasnt quite two amys, but excellent nonetheless and at $6.75 (for a decent sized pie), i'm not going to complain.
next came a salad and pasta. i ordered the bolognese with penne. the gentleman who took my order immediately began sauteeing onions and garlic. he asked me if i wanted chili and tossed that in as well. next came the meat, some crushed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, carrots (interesting) and some fresh basil. he tossed in freshly made pasta, topped it off with freshly ground pepper and parmesan, and offered me fresh bread. all were delicious. the side salad was delicious and fresh.
the wine was inexpensive, although i did not order any. the desserts looked awesome. in particular, the tiramisu looked great, served in a highball glass.
in short, i think the food was awesome, the service quick and good. at any other restaurant i'd have given 3-4 times as much money for what i received, and wasted 2-3 times as much time waiting on it. instead, i got a pizza, a big bowl of pasta, a salad, and some bread for less than 20 bucks.
try it out.
I was a bit more critical of the quality of food and service, though I suspect both will be worked out in short order. I agree that one can't complain for a $6.75 pizza, though my crust was pretty atrocious. (Mixing issues, I suspect.)
The salad ($6.50 for large, plus $2.25 for some turkey) was expensive for a self-serve counter.
I'm not quite sure you would ever pay three or four times more, even for higher-quality food. Even Bebo doesn't charge that much for simple dishes. I also think other sit-down pizza places in the area (Pie-Tanza, Facia Luna, Il Radicchio) are significantly better, though none within walking distance of my house. Also, when it comes down to it, Vapiano is basically just good fast food, so you have to factor that in.
The concept is fun, the design is hip. The food is OK. I'm especially curious to try the veal, tuna cream and caper pizza. Full review here: http://www.dcdishes.com/node/86
And I truly hope the "fantastic" comment regarding Ted's was sarcasm.