Posted by: Leap of Faith | June 16, 2010

Andiamo a Vapiano!

Vapiano  (or roughly translated from its Italian roots, “Go Plan”) is the newest Italian restaurant to open in town.  Located at the new wing of the Mall of Dhahran (near Gate 11), this quickly caught our attention because it had  great looking interiors.  I particularly loved how they used different herbs to decorate the place since these definitely added to its charm, not to mention the plants smelled good too.

A novelty of this restaurant is the method of ordering and payment.  Instead of the usual service crew waiting on you as you select your orders from a menu, Vapiano gives each customer (or group of customers) a card which needs to be presented to every food station one wishes to order from (pizza, pasta, appetizers, drinks)  so your orders may be keyed in their registers at point of sale.  And come payment time, instead of the usual bill, customers are requested to personally present same card to check-out counter to settle their bill.

Although this “gimmick”  affords diners the pleasure of watching their food being prepared fresh from the restaurant’s open kitchen, the novelty admittedly does wear off quite easily and we found ourselves wishing for the more “traditional service” before the night was over.

As for the food – the dishes looked delicious but, sadly, some of our orders failed to really impress since we’ve had better tasting Italian dishes before (plus prices were slightly more expensive and the servings were not enough to share).  In particular, the aglio olio with spaghettini noodles needed a sprinkle of EVOO with chili to perk up our taste buds.  The garlic bread appetizer, carbonara and chicken barbeque pizza we ordered, however, were delicious and made up for what our other orders lacked.  Oh, and by the way, the children’s margarita pizza scored extremely high in terms of presentation!

Not sure why this place is called Vapiano. Next time, I’ll make sure to ask.

The aglio olio failed to satisfy my craving… 

… but, thankfully, the fusilli carbonara tasted much better.

Super garlicky garlic bread topped with mozzarella cheese and some herbs.

Thin crust Chicken Barbeque pizza – crunchy to the bite – and oh-so-tasty too!

Pizza Margarita – definitely deserving of an A+ because of its aesthetic creativity.

Spicing it up – EVOO with chili, salt n’ peppa!

Great interiors – love all these red bottles… though unsure what they were exactly…

… and how these fresh herbs adorned the place was simply charming.

Overall, I should say that this place is good enough for another try!  Hopefully, next time we know better and our dining experience would go a notch higher.

PS: The Pinoy service crew were very kind to us and were even apologetic since they could not give us “kabayan freebies” 😉  that time. 



  1. your pics are so consistently yummy and amazing. maybe i should start learning proper photography too 🙂

    the card type dining scheme you mentioned here reminds me of streetlife which was our (me and my barkadas/officemates) favorite hang-out in glorietta back in the 98-99 era. we prefered it over the hippier hard rock cafe which is just a few steps away.

    dunno if i’ll try this resto though. i generally steer clear of dhahran mall coz of it’s family-only policy in most days. that’s why i still haven’t tried the tony roma in that area. but at least i’ve got an idea whenever i drifted towards that area. thanks for sharing. great post as always!

    • Hi Dante! Thanks so much for the compliment. It is very encouraging to hear positive feedback like yours.

      I remember Street Life. I loved that place and the concept of having everything in one area (the live band was a big plus for me). Mukhang pareho tayo ng tambayan dati ah – same generation – he he he!

      You are right! The unique concept is very similar to that of Street Life – although I do not suggest you go there when you are “super” hungry or else baka ma-asar ka lang falling in line. The service if fast naman although I can imagine that the line can get long on heavy days.

      Try going to Dhahran on weeknights or Thursday morning/afternoon since hindi pa sila ganoon ka strict during that time. I have a lot of bachelor friends who go there on their own. There are a lot of new and decent restaurants there which are worth trying.

      For Tony Roma’s, I suggest you go to the branch near the Al Khobar Corniche. Food and service is better there.

  2. Hi, Va-Piano litterally means: go-slowly.

    Cheers, Pietro.

    • Thanks for the info, Pietro.

  3. Hi to the Vapiano management…my wife and I ate there last night, as we have done on several occasions in the past, because we like the food and service, although I agree that the ordering system is a bit painful.

    However, and I’d rather be saying this to the management in a private email, I was up all night with serious shaking and aching, as well as vomiting and diarrhoea, and do not feel at all well today. I had the carbonara, as I usually do, and woinder if the restaurant had any other advice of similar occurrances? I really had nothing else yesterday which could cause food poisoning, but that is indeed what the doctor said it could be.

    I do not require any freebies, nor am I alleging any food at the restaurant was bad…all I hope for is an acknowledgement that the staff will investigate my report and see whether there were any other people similarly affected. If so, I’d hope for some kind of process improvement to try to eliminate such a thing happening again.

  4. Hi Ian. Sorry to hear about what happened to you the last time you ate at Vapiano. You may want to send the restaurant’s management a letter to share your experience and so they can investigate and avoid any similar circumstances in the future. FYI, this is a personal blog site and I am not connected in any way to the management of the restaurant.

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