Pizza/Pasta at Vapiano (Taipei)
I had no idea that Vapiano is actually quite a well-known Italian food chain with stores all around the world, including, surprisingly, Australia (Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast).
What makes the place stand out from the rest of the crowd, apart from the fresh ingredients, is that they have these pizza and pasta bars you have to walk up to and order yourself and wait while they cook your meal on the spot (or come back later — they give you one of those buzzer things often seen in food courts). It is not, however, a buffet, as each person is given a chip card on which your orders are tabulated, and you simply pay at the counter at the end.
The Vapiano store in Taipei is at the 10th floor of the ATT4Fun Mall at the trendy Xinyi district, just a stone throw away from the iconic Taipei 101 building and next to the Vieshow cinemas. It’s quite a large place with a lounge/bar like feel and decor and was packed with office workers and trendy people on this particular weekday we visited for lunch.
The menu is extensive — antipasti, salads, pizzas, pastas and of course, desserts, beverages and alcohol — and you can check it out yourself here. It’s not cheap though; the pizzas and pastas have three prices: NT$280, NT$360 and NT$420 and the rest can also go up as high as NT$400. The best part about the place is the incredible variety, especially as you can mix and match your favourite pasta with your favourite sauces and meats/seafood.
That said, the dishes we ordered — a “calzone” pizza, with spicy Italian sausage, ham, mushrooms, tomato sauce, mozzarella; and a scampi campanelle (though it was called a different type of pasta), with prawns, tomatoes, vegetables and tomato sauce; and a mushroom risotto — were not quite as good as they sounded on the menu. They were good, but not fantastic. Maybe I would have had a different opinion had I ordered something else.
The other thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the ordering system. Given that you are not making the food yourself and there are still waiters and waitresses around, it made little sense to me why you couldn’t just order from the menu from your seat like a regular restaurant. Instead you have to go back to your seat and wait for the buzzer to go off the head back; or, as the pasta bar recommends, stand at the bar and wait with lots of people, any of whom could steal your dish from you.
So yeah, I didn’t really “get” Vapiano. It’s a nice place to visit with a group of friends because of the atmosphere and ambiance, and the variety and the food is more than adequate. But if you are looking for a nice Italian joint for a more private occasion and more exquisite food, then there are certainly better options at this price range.
7.5 out of 10
Address: Level 10, ATT4Fun, No. 12 SongShou Rd (Nearest MRT Taipei City Hall)
Phone: (02) 2722-7111
Hours: 11AM – 1PM; Friday/Saturdays 11AM- 2AM