If you are a New School or NYU student you may have already tasted Vapiano’s simple and tasty Italian offerings at a catered school event. If you’ve traveled around Europe, it’s also very likely that you walked into a Vapiano – the international chain has over 130 restaurants worldwide. Their New York outpost is a large, two-story restaurant on the corner of University and 13th street. The space is airy and open with red globe decorations hanging from tall ceilings and big windows. Don’t be put off by the large air-conditioning rig coming out of one of the windows when you walk in.
What’s most unique about Vapiano is their card system. When guests walk in they are automatically asked if they’ve been to the Italian chain before – that’s because their ordering system may seem unusual at first but is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. You’re handed a Vapiano card, which is similar to a credit card but just for the restaurant. Every time you order, your card is scanned and when you are ready to leave, you hand the card in at the front desk and pay based on the card’s balance.
The idea is upscale cafeteria-style. You don’t order at a table, but rather walk to stations offering different options (pasta, antipasti, pizza, salad…) with a tray. At the pasta station, dishes are sautéed up before your eyes and you scan your card by tapping it against a machine after ordering. If you decide to go for a personalized pizza, you’ll be given a little buzzer which rings when your dish is ready. Pasta and pizza dough are made fresh, in house daily.
Le Ludwige, the manager at the New York location says that this system is meant to encourage guests to roam the restaurant freely. “We wanted to give our guests the option to walk around,” he said.
Ludwige added that this system does slow down the ordering and paying process slightly but they are working on streamlining. As of now, lunchtime can be a little slow, as business-lunch people in the area want something they can sink their teeth into more quickly. But if you’re a student with a big break in between classes, Vapiano is perfect. You can also order online through Chow Now and come pick up your meal all ready to go.
This option is also great for families, and on a Friday afternoon, the restaurant is filled with European tourists and groups of young people. You and your friends can each go to a station and meet at one of the high lightwood beige tables with your steaming dishes.
For a touch of simplicity, try the pasta bolognese, a traditional Italian dish- made with Vapiano’s classic beef and pork tomato sauce, with sliced carrots as a delicious and surprising addition. The dish is well-seasoned and filling. All pasta dishes are served with two slices of homemade bread and each table is outfitted with little marble containers holding spicy olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The pizza is less of a highlight, the classic margarita I ordered was a little greasy but the European-style thin crust redeemed it slightly. All the dishes are priced reasonably at $10.00 to $13.00.
If you’re in the mood for a drink, Vapiano has an extensive wine selection showcased on tall mirrored shelves behind the bar. Glasses of wine are priced at $9.50 and the beer is $6.50.
Visit Vapiano to satisfy all of your fresh pasta cravings and bring your classmates for a tasty meal in a fun, low-key environment that is guaranteed to have you leave as friends.
by Tamar Lapin
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For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the NYC Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.