She Who Must Be Obeyed and I stopped in at the 18th Street NW branch with 3 other couples last night after the latest Arena Stage production. The website said it was open until Midnight, but the kitchen closed at 11. We got there at 10 of and the guy making pizzas reluctantly made a couple. The general agreement was that the pizzas were very good, close to excellent. SHMBO and I had a roasted vegetable pizza which I really liked. We also shared a salad which we rated very highly also. The only sour note was the drinks -- a couple of bucks for an 8 oz diet coke! We peobably will go back to try the pasta and another pizza.
I've been to the Ballston branch a couple of times and I like it. I am a pizza lover so if I get semi-decent pizza I am thrilled. Both times I had pizza and it was better than Sbarro's but not as good as Two Amys. My friend had some ravioli and liked it. My husband did not care for his pasta dish very much (something with beef in it).
They also have happy hours some evenings so the house wine is a bargain. My routine is set: order the pizza, get the buzzer, go get wine at the bar, sit down and wait for buzzer to buzz. All in all, I think it is a fun place and I am glad it is in the neighborhood. I try to go before the evening rush as I imagine it can get pretty backed up otherwise.
It's only meh, in my opinion. I didn't try the pasta so I can't speak to that. The pizzas we tried, margherita (tomato/basil/mozzarella) and verdure (roasted vegetables) were OK but not great. The tomatoes on the margherita had a sour off taste. The veggies were not particularly flavorful - some were cooked enough, others were not. It was all reasonably priced though (pizzas are under $10), and with 2 drinks the total came to something like $25.
The staff was completely disinterested and didn't seem at all like real chefs or line cooks, even. We went on a slow weeknight at the Dupont location but some of them still could barely be bothered to look up.
Maybe I misunderstood the concept from the website, but I was expecting something like a Movenpick or European food hall. They are clearly trying for a more upscale-than-quick-service feel, something in between the Cosis and Potbellys and a moderately priced Italian sitdown. The concept just doesn't work for me, but your mileage may vary. Personally I'd rather pay more and go to 2 Amys or Paradiso and have table service, or pay less at the fast-food places and know exactly what I'm going to get.
"The staff was completely disinterested and didn't seem at all like real chefs or line cooks, even."
Duh. Again, you shouldn't expect any fast food worker to be any more invested than some guy flipping patties at 5 guys. They are semi-trained robots. None of the Vapiano staff I've encounted seemed to have beyond a 5th grade education.
I wasn't comparing it to the sit-down places as all. I just think that there are certain things that if they are training a cook...they should know. Basic rules of cooking---as in don't burn the garlic.
I have eaten there at least a half dozen times so it hasn't stopped me from going. I just have had to readjust my expectations.
Also when I went the first time it kind of rubbed me the wrong way that the manager (from Germany...where the restaurant was originally created) was standing next to the cook and pointing out a few of the mistakes he was making while I was standing there. I kind of thought "Well maybe he should appologize for me and have the guy start over." But I didn't want to be pushy. The meal ended up being ok...but I could taste the mild mistakes the cook made.
Already a few threads on Vapiano.
I've been---its decent. Nice when I want my pasta fix fast but I've seen a few glitches in the people who are cooking the food. (ie not cooking bacon long enough for carbonera, cooking pasta too long, or burning the garlic etc...simple things any real cook should know how to do. But these folks depend a lot on the technology/assembly line of the restaurant).
Here you go: