Vapiano: Italian food with a ‘fast-casual’ approach


Italian food with a ‘fast-casual’ approach


Central London



Finding an Italian restaurant in some boroughs is what finding a chicken shop is in another; easy & common. So to say that Vapiano revolutionises your expectation of what an Italian restaurant is, it is not an exaggeration.

Being told that you are going to eat out near Oxford street is an exciting proposition and with this particular store being merely two minutes away from Oxford Circus Underground Station, shining brightly on Great Portland Street, that excitement is quickly realised.

Vapiano's has a lovely, elegant and chic design style that fuses the influences of Italy with the business of London.

Walk in and this ‘revolution’ is immediately apparent as your first point of call with anyone at Vapiano, is the front of house staff issuing you each a card and sending you on your merry way, free to do whatever you like within the four walls.

Because Vapiano is not your traditional restaurant. Gone is the table service, booking reservations and wait staff and if you arrive when it’s busy, the queues will make you think that you’re at a bar- only for you to realise that you do not pay on order.

Vapiano's Card with their very Italian menu

Because that card I hinted to earlier is not a business card- it’s your tab; and with each person entering Vapiano getting a card, the pesky conundrum of ‘do we go Dutch?’ is gone and instead the argument becomes ‘will you put me on your tab?’ or ‘will you pay mine?’

However, I’d recommend that you save the argument of paying till later, as your dating dilemma will most likely interrupt the chilled, social vibe Vapiano has seemingly mastered without effort, as the chain seems to find a balance between ‘family run pizzeria’ and ‘local bar.’

Everyone you meet at Vapiano seems to speak Italian

It does this by seemingly only employing Italians (or Italian speakers) for Kitchen and Bar roles, who shamelessly correct you if you mispronounce an item on the menu which is written in Italian (with English translations). Additionally; the food is made to order & tastes fresh, so these three things would very easily dupe you into believing it is a one off, local Italian eatery.

But without the table service & mandatory queuing for food, the vibe on the lower floor is much closer to a busy bar vibe than anything else.

The ordering system is unlike what I have experienced before, as you queue up at the section relevant to what you are about to order. Pasta? TO THE PASTA QUEUE

However, don’t take the lack of table service as a negative thing. In fact, by not including this feature, Vapiano becomes cost effective; albeit relative for its central London location & inviting as a date night prospect, even for those on a modest budget.

Because Vapiano creates an intimate mood for your date, even amongst the chaos of a busy Friday night with its chic décor, ambient lighting and music. Plus, with the great spacing between tables and no-table service, there’s almost no reason for you to be disturbed.

However, should you bring a date to Vapiano and you find yourself arriving when it’s busy, my word of advice to you would be to collect your food before you find your table.

19-21 Great Portland St, Marylebone, London W1W 8QB


  • Fantastic Oxford Street location.

  • Beautiful decor
  • Unique card system solves the 'who's paying?' headache.
  • Fresh, fresh, fresh food that's made to order!
  • Family run Italian restaurant vibe
  • It's like going out to a bar, but the food is great.
  • Friendly staff who are more than happy to oblige your off-menu drinks request.
  • Card system means getting served is quick and easy & you can keep track of your spending.


  • Without much restraint, you can quickly find yourself running up a very hefty bill

  • Alcohol pretty much starts at £5.20, so whilst you can come here on a budget, you won't be drinking much.
  • Plus that drinks menu is pretty limited. Three Beers? You're kidding me!
  • SERVICE CAN BE SO SLOW. We waited over 1.5hours for our food due to our sketchy queuing technique.
  • Made to-order means you're still waiting 45 minutes for your food.

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