A few weeks ago, I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler for the first time. As with every race, before the run comes the carbo loading. To make things simple, we decided to eat at Vapiano in Bethesda and sit in the lounge area so we could also watch the Final Four basketball games. I had a lot at stake because if UConn won, there was a good chance I was going to win not one but two pools!
We have been to Vapiano several times and have always thought it was good for what it was. Quick, easy, no frills Italian pizza and pasta. The gimmick is you get a card when you enter, and can watch them make your pasta to order. The pizza takes a little longer, so they usually give you a buzzer while you wait at your table. I have also had some of their salads and soups before, and while you get a good portion for your money, nothing stood out there either.
On this particular night, I decided to order the Fusilli pasta with pesto and pine nuts. On a previous trip I went with a red sauce (which I usually prefer), but I realized that I usually love drowning my pasta in red sauce, and they are fairly skimpy on the sauce here. I had a feeling something like a Pesto sauce would stick better to the pasta, and I was right. There was definitely a generous portion of oil in it, but it was a very satisfying pre-race dish.
Brett ordered the penne arrabbiata which featured spicy tomato sauce. He also added grilled chicken to the dish for additional three dollars, which he thought was rather steep. This was Brett’s second time to Vapiano and he was just as dissatisfied, if not more so, than he was during his first visit. While he enjoyed the spicy marinara, the pasta was mediocre at best. The worst part, however, was the grilled chicken. He had a problem with both the quality (very dry) and quantity (sparse) of the protein which really questioned the supplemental charge.
I will say that any time we have ordered pizza at Vapiano, there hasn’t been any complaints. It’s by no means the best pizza in the area, but you get decent, freshly-baked pizza at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, each time we go we try to get some pasta too, seeing as that it is one of their specialties. We should stick to their pizzas and salads, and keep the place in mind for their decent happy hour deals. Oh, and the bowl of gummy bears when you leave isn’t a bad touch either. Vapiano is a fun chain to have in the area, but if we want real pasta, we’ll stick to Olazzo and Trattoria Sorrento.