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Published October 4th 2012
Gourmet Italian food made before your eyes
Brisbane is the first city in the southern hemisphere to open a local franchise of German-based Vapiano
Its great when something you thought you'd previously have to travel overseas for opens up on your doorstep. No longer are the Europeans the only ones lucky enough to enjoy the unique dining concept of Vapiano. Brisbane is the first city in the southern hemisphere to open a Vapiano restaurant as part of the German-based company's global expansion plans so expect to see a lot more of these restaurants in the next few years.
After trying Vapiano's in Berlin a few years back I was impressed with the high quality ingredients, classy decor, and the unique ordering and payment system. The local franchise, located in Albert Lane in Brisbane's CBD, bears all the same hallmarks of it's European cousins, while making it a priority to source ingredients from no more than 150 kilometres away. Coupled with the fact that they grow their own herbs on site and you can be confident of the freshness in the ingredients used.
All food at Vapiano is made to order in front of your eyes
Upon entry our party of four were each given a electronic chip card which served as a temporary credit card of sorts to which we would each pay our balance off at the cashier upon leaving. This comes with a major positive when dining in large groups - no more awkward bill splitting moments of who ordered and who pays what.
All diners are given a electronic chip card where purchases are added and then paid upon leaving
We were then given free reign to add whatever food we liked to our card, from the numerous food stations on the ground level. Pizza, pasta, salad and antipasto bars awaited us with well presented chefs behind ready to take our orders and prepare our food while we watched on. The open kitchen design made us feel connected to the food-making process and this gives a transparency in the process so customers can be assured that their food is made with the due diligence that you would expect. As well as this all pizza dough and pasta is manufactured in a glass room, where you can watch while waiting in line, which is definitely something that you don't see everyday.
Unfortunately the waiting in line part seems to be an unavoidable aspect of the Vapiano ordering process, and I've been told the lines on Weekends, especially in the evening can be extremely long which might be worth considering if you are short on time or simply don't like standing in line for long periods.
Lines at the pizza and pasta stations can be long, especially on weekends.
On our lunchtime visit the line for the pizza and pasta bars were reasonably long and upon skimming the menu and the lines at each station, the antipasto and salad bar with its short line looked particularly appealing. While I snapped away taking pictures of the unique open kitchen and customer/chef interaction, a antipasto platter ($19) was created for me.
The enormous antipasto is perfect to share and includes buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, bruschetta and more
The platter consisted of buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted capsicum and eggplant, salami, parmesan and basil and tomato bruschetta on ciabatta fingers. This was all arranged and beautifully presented on a wooden bread board making my mouth water in anticipation. The platter was big enough to share with my fellow diners and since I was keen for others to try the taste sensation of the antipasti, the numerous crockery and cutlery stations on the upstairs dining level make sharing hassle free.
We sat upstairs at a huge wooden table with a square cut in the middle to house a growing olive tree. This along with the condiments on every table including balsamic vinegar and olive oil, along with the live potted herbs to use on our dishes added to the authentic Italian atmosphere. The pasta was 'al dente' and perfectly cooked, and the high-quality gourmet ingredients of both the antipasto platter and pasta dishes was definitely noticeable as well at the fresh and vibrant flavours of the traditional Italian ingredients. Being a huge fan of basil I was overjoyed to add more to my bruschetta from the potted herbs in the centre on the table.
My antipasto platter and our table complete with olive tree, potted herbs, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
All pizza and pasta dishes at Vapiano can be made with your choice of ingredients depending on your taste, or you can choose from the extensive menu of over 20 different pasta dishes and 15 pizza varieties. Fancy extra olives, mushrooms, bacon or chicken? All you have to do is ask the chef. For those after an Italian cocktail or liqueur, or even just a Peroni, a full service bar is found on the upstair dining level at Vapiano, just swipe your card and the drinks are also added to your order. Belissimo!
The next time you are seeking quick and authentic Italian fare consider heading to Vapiano. With the popularity of Brisbane's flagship restaurant's any indication, Vapiano is destined for success in their soon to open Melbourne and Sydney locations. For now Brisbanites are among the first to enjoy this unique dining experience. If you enjoy it as much as me (and really who doesn't like Italian food) you'll be making any excuse time your next trip downtown to coincide with mealtime. Bon Appetit!