Vapiano in Manchester’s corn exchange is a self-serve restaurant that hosts the perfect combination of classic Italian food and a chilled-out vibe. We were given the opportunity to take our first visit to the restaurant and try out their brand new vegan specials menu. Verdict? Pleasantly surprised.
Vapiano have opted to mix-up the three Italian classics of pizza, pasta and risotto to make them vegan-friendly, whilst still retaining their wholesome feel.
Disclaimer: I am not a vegan. The vegan lifestyle has appealed to me for so long, hence why I jumped at the chance to try out some professionally cooked vegan meals. Start with the best, right? My date for the evening (also not vegan) was happy to taste test some food that he would have never typically ordered, albeit with a speculative view of whether ‘vegan’ could compete with the Italian he knows and loves.
First up was the ‘Con Cipolle Balsamico’ pizza. With the open kitchens we were able to see the chefs prepare and cook our meals, which always works well with authentic pizza-making in action. The pizza dough was just how I like it, thin with a decent crust but the toppings were unique: balsamic shallots, courgette and aubergine. The overriding taste of the shallots was sweet and almost fruity but it definitely worked.
The pasta option was a ‘Funghi Bolognese’, which I thought tasted very comforting but a bit too familiar. At Vapiano, you have the opportunity to personalise your dish as you watch the chef prepare it with options of pasta shapes, chilli, garlic etc. I opted for tagliatelle with extra chilli. The chilli really helped to add flavour to the dish (boyfriend disagreed) but the mountain of pasta was quite overwhelming. Taste wise, it was nothing special.
Finally the ‘Zua Carmellata’ risotto. We were persuaded by the lovely duty manager to try this one out as it was his personal favourite. I didn’t think that the sauce of pumpkin, orange juice and coconut milk would work but it really, really did. The taste was definitely sweet (probably why I liked it so much) and the chef managed to create a perfectly creamy consistency. I’ve learned my lesson that ordering out of my comfort zone has it’s rewards.
The restaurant itself is large and spacious, taking up a considerable chunk of the Corn Exchange. High tables with stools create the casual vibe, perfect for a meet up with friends or a lunch break from shopping. Vapiano have their own credit card style payment system where you add on each of your dishes/ drinks as you order and then pay at the end when you leave. Slightly weird but I guess helpful if you want to avoid the awkward bill split situation at the end of a meal.
This menu, although very limited, is a great start for Vapiano in catering for the growing vegan scene. Whilst my experience of eating-out as a vegan is
rather limited non-existent, I’d still recommend for vegans to take advantage of this specially curated menu and switch up their normal Italian experience of ‘pizza without the cheese, please’.