90b Southwark Street, Southwark, South East London, SE1 0FD
Vapiano has already established itself globally, and since 2008 London has been enjoying its refreshingly modern and very European attitude to food. The restaurant adopts a contemporary theme in everything from the decor, cuisine and service, down to how you pay for your meal - the result is a hip yet pleasantly relaxed pizza and pasta bar. The venue is unquestionably Mediterranean in terms of its bustling atmosphere, but in reality is a world apart from the traditional Italian eatery. A huge olive tree stands at the centre of this spacious 300-cover restaurant, just waiting for its fruits to be picked and scattered across a steaming plate of pasta. In addition, long marble troughs on each table contain olive oils and condiments, as well as pots of fresh herbs for you to use to garnish your meal. At Vapiano you not only have control over the herbs that flavour your meal, but also in paying for your food - an experience in itself. Guests who order fire-roasted pizzas are provided with pagers that let them know as soon as their food is ready, and your tab is kept on a practical swipe card that is remarkably quick and easy to use - ideal for on-the-go workers or shoppers needing some quick refreshment. All of this excitement and you haven't even started your meal yet. The cuisine itself is authentic Mediterranean, with an extensive selection for guests to choose from, including several vegetarian options. Start with antipasti or a rustic salad, then perhaps select one of Vapiano's fire-roasted pizzas such as the gamberi e rucola - king prawns, rocket and olives. Or maybe opt for one of the fresh pasta dishes available, such as a simple and delicious arrabbiata; alternatively, there is the more indulgent granchi di fiume - pasta with crayfish and fresh vegetables, served in a lobster sauce. Everything down to the pasta is freshly made, yet the prices are still amazingly reasonable, with main dishes starting at a mere £6.10. For an exceptionally innovative meal that consists of the best Mediterranean simplicity, look no further than Vapiano.