Vapiano (강남점) (바피아노)
Reviewed by Annie Namba on July 19, 2011 / Updated August 5, 2011
Escalator leads directly to the entrance of the restaurant.
Vapiano is a casual dining place with pizza, pasta and bar. They have many locations around the world (they list all their countries on the door as you exit) yet I had never heard of it before coming to Seoul. Korea is supposed to be the first location in Asia. We were quite impressed by the enormous size of the restaurant and relaxed yet hip looking interior decorations to suit all kind of different needs of people.
Basil grows in small pots throughout the restaurant, and at each table. Use it to dress up your meal!
When you walk in, they greet you and provide a "chip card" for each person. It works a bit like a credit card: you use it to pay for each dish you order, then pay the balance as you leave. Having one card per person makes dutch paying easy for group outing, making it easy for those who have had trouble with this situation in the past.
The downside, though, is that it makes you your own server. There are different counters for pasta, pizza, drinks, etc. When you find something you'd like to try, you go to the appropriate counter and order it. When directed, scan your card. Orders are ready in about 5 minutes (a little longer for pizzas).
On our first trip, we ordered a capricciosa pizza and a carbonara. They have a surprising variety of pasta (as in the type of noodle), and you have to pick one. It was hard to decide, so I went with what the chef recommended.
Pizza capricciosa (16000원)
Within 5-10 minutes of ordering, capricciosa pizza was ready. Vapiano serves up ultra-thin, Italian-style pizza, which typically bakes in just 1 minute. Despite the number of toppings (ham, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, tomatoes and three different cheeses) the pizza remained thin and was not overflowing with toppings. Excellent!
Staple of Korean Italian experience - pickles
I watched as the chefs assembled the carbonara pasta. The workers seemed to enjoy their work and were very helpful when I needed to make decisions. The pasta I ordered with my carbonara was a sort of flower-shaped pasta with ruffled edges that held the sauce well. Not the kind of dish you'd get if you were on a diet, but it was delicious, very rich and creamy. The major highlight of this and any pasta dish at Vapiano would be their fresh pasta, made right in the restaurant. It's a world apart from dry pasta, so chewy and full of flavor!
Pasta bolognese (11500원)
On a subsequent visit, we ordered the bolognese pasta and a prosciutto e funghi pizza. As before, the pasta tasted fresh and ingredients were of highest quality. Pastas are priced from 9900원 to 14500원. We also spotted panini lunch sets with soup and coffee for under 10000원.
Prosciutto e funghi pizza (14000원)
The pizza was also excellent as before. Despite how thin it is, they manage to distribute the toppings well and pack lots of ham and mushrooms into every bite.
Tiramisu della casa (5000원)
After our meal, we felt the need for an Italian dessert. We decided to try the tiramisu. It came out a bit different from how I imagined it, served in a small pudding cup. It seemed like we finished it in less than a minute. The layers of cake were moist and full of coffee flavor. Overall though, we felt it wasn't worth the price we paid.
- Food: 4/5 - Pizza and pasta are amazing. A few items seem overpriced.
- Service: 4/5 - Self service, but staff is helpful when you look lost. Some would consider the fact that you never have to flag down a server a plus.
- Atmosphere: 4/5 - Casual atmosphere that works well, except for inconveniently positioned (and immovable) lamps built into tables. Many different seating options. Unfortunately, during summer, AC vents blow directly into your meal, cooling it quickly and destroying their intended "slow food" vibe.