Vapiano is a German franchise of restaurants with international presence in many countries around the world. Despite its origin, Vapiano doesn’t serve German cuisine; instead the food served there is Italian. I have passed by branches of Vapiano throughout the years in other Gulf states, but have never set foot in one. But after it opened recently in Mall of Arabia, I decided to finally give it a try.
The location of the restaurant is on the second floor of the MoA opposite the large panoramic glass frontage of the Mall. The closest gate is Gate 1, and it’s surrounded by a few newly opened restaurants and cafes. Preparations for a promotional event were underway nearby when we arrived at the restaurant at 5 pm on Thursday.
Despite the noise, we decided to dine in mainly because we wanted to enjoy the panoramic view of Jeddah from the balcony. Granted it’s not exactly the best view one can hope for, but the extensive view from the upper levels of the mall made us feel we are sitting in an airport. While this may not be everyone’s idea of a night out, it was a welcome change for us from the usual claustrophobic dining scene of Jeddah. One other thing I really liked about Vapiano was the visible “No Smoking” signs on the tables, this really made me happy.
Upon arrival, the host explained the concept, a simple and effective one. You are handed a card with the table number on it (don’t ever lose this one; you’d pay 250 SR fine if you do), you read the menu, see what you like, and then you head to the cooking area, which resembles a canteen, where you tell your cook what you want, and how you like it. For example if youâ€™d like changing the type of pasta used in your dish, or choosing different toppings, or additives, etc. When you are done ordering you hand the cashier your card so he can add the order to your bill. You then move between the different stations till you are done with your order, then head back to your table.
For starter we chose Bruschetta (15 SR) and Rucola Salad (24 SR). The Bruschetta was nice, but the salad dressing was too salty for my taste. Messing up a simple salad like Rucola, which doesn’t require much more than fresh rocket leaves and Parmesan shaving, and very simple dressing, is a big sin in my book, and it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the meal. Fortunately the main dishes were much better. We ordered Carbonara pasta (38 SR) which was really good; creamy and rich in Parmesan cheese, and the menaced bacon pieces made it very tasty. We also had the assorted beef pizza (48 SR), which has all kind of meat toppings. This one would satisfy meat lovers. Its size is fairly generous, the base is decent, but not the best out there, and the toppings are fresh, but it was a bit short when it comes to the tomato paste, which seems lost in the other ingredients. For drinks, I had the piÃ±a colada (15 SR) and my wife had the lemon with mint (15 SR), both were refreshing and came in rather large glasses. As for dessert we had tiramisu and panna cotta (each 18 SR) and we enjoyed both a great deal. The service was fair but not great. When we needed a waiter we had to call for the one to take order or to clear the table for example, but unlike other restaurants, they didn’t check on us by themselves to see if we needed anything. To be fair, whenever we called for one, a waiter came quickly. After a fairly enjoyable time and a very satisfying meal, we paid our bill which amounted to 210 SR (10% service charge included).
In conclusion, Vapiano won’t probably win a contest for best Italian restaurant in Jeddah, but with its casual ambiance, dynamic menu, great sitting, strategic location, and competitive prices, it will likely thrive and become a destination, if not for loyal patrons, then at least for curious shoppers with a time to kill or empty stomachs to fill.Read more