With more than 200 branches around the world, Sara Waddah finds that Vapiano continues to prove an easy-going and relaxed approach to life is the greatest attitude to live with.

One of my favourite things about Bahrain City Centre is that, no matter what you’re running around doing, you know there’s always going to be that perfect little restaurant that hits the spot waiting for you afterwards. For me, Vapiano has always been one of those.

An innovative European concept that has had my heart since its early days, seeing Vapiano stand out amid the firstfloor chaos always warms my heart. Legendary and wellknown for fresh homemade pasta, fire-roasted pizzas and gourmet salads, eating at Vapiano has never let me down. Keep reading and you’ll understand why.

As you enter Vapiano (and this is standard at branches all over the world), guests are directed to a vacant table and given a chip card. If it’s your first time visiting, you might be a little intimidated but rest assured – all you need to do is carry it with you when picking your meals and tap it in order to register your choices.

Taking a moment and just soaking in my surroundings, Vapiano is conveniently located in the corner of the mall, so once you’re inside the restaurant, the outside hustle and bustle conveniently seems far away. Immediately adjusting to the new environment – I’m talking wooden tables, giggles and laughter, the smell of yummy pasta – I grabbed my chip card and headed over to the open-style kitchen to see what was cooking.

I made sure to visit all the different stations available to make sure I was getting all the best Italian delicacies this afternoon – after lightly speaking to the designated chefs, tapping my card on the reader to officially place my order, I trotted back to my seat. The excitement is always real when it comes to having a feel-good meal.

For starters, I opted for the Bruschetta Gamberetti as well as one of their latest Autumn Specials, the Zuppe Di Cavolifiore. A perfect pairing that was both refreshing and warming – the grilled shrimps on marinated tomatoes topping the bread were a beautiful kick to my taste buds, but that was quickly balanced out by the cauliflower soup which, I note, included pumpkin seeds, perfect for the season!

Now you’re probably thinking… Autumn Specials? What is that? WELL, Vapiano annually introduces new additions and dishes in honour of the festive weeks to come. The Autumn Specials will be available throughout winter and trust me when I say that this definitely feels right for the temperature-dropping days.

Back to the culinary journey that my senses were on, I was beyond ready for my mains at this point, anticipating nothing less than yummy goodness. Having been a loyal Vapiano fan for years, I opted to try the Macaroni Cheese & Pancetta as well as the Calabria pizza, both from the new special menu.

Grabbing my fork and diving headfirst into this mac and cheese was something close to an out-of-body experience. In front of me laid this beautiful macaroni dish that combined three different kinds of cheese, bacon, béchamel and mushrooms all topped off with ciabatta breadcrumbs. I might not be an expert on love, but I’m sure it feels a whole lot like this.

I’m a heavy believer in equality, so I made sure I turned my attention to the pizza as well. The Calabria pizza was definitely the first of its kind that I’ve ever had. Pit-fired to just the right amount of crisp, based with tomato sauce, and then generously topped with potato slices, ‘nduja (a fatty ground meat sausage with Calabrian chillies), and rosemary that gave the entire combination just a little bit more sass.

Both these dishes were, hats off, everything I expected from Vapiano and more. Not only were the portions incredibly satisfying (even if it was to be shared with another person), but you can also immediately realise the freshness of the ingredients being used, as well as that absolute delight that you feel after enjoying a great home-cooked meal.

Ending with a beautifully put together dolci, the Brownie Caramello was the ultimate finish to today’s meal. With brownie pieces layered with mascarpone cream, cacao powder and topped with salted caramel sauce – an absolutely delightful surprise for my sweet tooth.

Thoroughly satisfying me from start to finish, Vapiano did an incredible job in exceeding my expectations and making me a very happy woman as always.

Alla prossima volta amore mio! (See you next time, my love!) Vapiano is located on the first floor of City Centre Bahrain. ✤