For a restaurant whose name translates as ‘go slow,’ Vapiano have made light work of expanding across some five continents over the last 15 years. With a simple concept of fresh Italian food cooked to order, and a payment system that takes the hassle out of a quick lunch, Vapiano has been a runaway success. A little over 12 months ago their fourth branch in the UK (first outside of London) was opened here in Manchester, finding a home in the now bustling Corn Exchange, just as the new food destination was first getting on its feet. If the intrigue of a different kind of dining experience wasn’t enough to get me down there, the promise of freshly made pasta, pizza and salads certainly was.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if carpaccio is on the menu it needs to get ordered, so that seemed as good a place to start as any. The classic raw beef salad was also our first look at the Vapiano service concept; on entering the restaurant each diner is given their own card to use when ordering from each station (there are different sections for pizza, pasta, desserts etc). Once you’ve decided what you fancy wave your card over the scanner and watch as everything is prepared to order, you can adapt the dishes to your tastes too – fancy a bit more chilli on that pizza, just ask. Simple enough then, the main difference comes once it’s time to settle up and everyone just pays for what they’ve had. No counting how many drinks each person had, or who had a bite of that starter, and definitely no opening up the calculator app on your phone.
Perfect for people wanting a hassle free bite to eat without having to compromise on the quality of the food, it’s easy to see why the concept has proved to be so popular. So much of Italian cooking is all about the quality of the ingredients, and giving them the chance to shine without too much fuss, so it seems the perfect cuisine for this approach. A great example would be the capricciosa pizza – a light crispy base is prepared and topped with mozzarella, artichokes, ham and olives. Fast, fresh, delicious food that doesn’t over complicate – it’s just a simple combination of some of the best bits that Italian cuisine brings to the table.
I was most looking forward to trying the pasta though really, it’s hand-made on site every single day, with 11 types including 2 spelt pastas, and is not something I generally find myself eating when out.
We went for the king prawns with spinach, a silky smooth sauce of cream and basil pesto coated our campanelle. It’s wholesome yet indulgent food this. The bolognese ravioli was equally alluring, rich beef sauce encased by al dente little parcels, homely and familiar flavours, but yet good fresh pasta always feels like a rare treat at the same time.
Of course Italian desserts rarely let the side down either – creamy, thick mascarpone layered and dusted with slightly bitter cocoa, there’s always gonna be room for tiramisu after any meal. Luscious lemon and vanilla cheesecake gets the thumbs up too, baked on site daily then served with strawberry sauce it balances sweet and savoury adeptly, give me a strong black coffee on the side and I’m set.
Then a quick swipe of your card and you’re ready to go. Whether you’re sick of having a bun fight over the bill or just like the idea fitting your lunch in to an hour for a change, it’s easy to see the appeal of Vapiano.
Vapiano, Corn Exchange, 98 Corporation St, Manchester M4 3TR
0161 348 7590