Restaurants , Italian Fitzrovia
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(16 user reviews)
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This big German chain has outposts all over the world. This Great Portland street branch - one of three now in London - was their first UK foray, following it up with venues on Bankside and in Soho. 

There's an effort to simplify transactions here. Diners are given a swipe card, with which they use to order items direct from the chefs before paying when they leave. 

The menu is filled with traditional Italian dishes, ranging from antipasti and insalata to pastas, pizzas and a range of specials created by chefs at each venue. Desserts include tiramisu, panna cotta, crema di fragola and ice cream from Green & Black's.  

Venue name: Vapiano
Address: 19-21 Great Portland Street
Opening hours: 11am-midnight Mon-Fri, noon-11pm Sat, noon-10pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Oxford Circus tube
Price: Main courses £3.50-£9.10.
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening
Kateryna V

Here is my guide to Vapiano:

- pick up your card from the hosts as you enter. Don't lose it, they will charge you for it if you do.

- there are separate stations for antipasti, pasta, pizza and deserts. Order some antipasti or a salad to share first. Mixed antipasti or tomatoes and mozzarella are both good choices. Maybe skip bruschetta. You'll be getting enough carbs as it is. Try the various dressings they display on the counter while you are waiting. Mopping up their Caesar dressing with a piece of home baked ciabatta - yum. Don't forget to get some glasses. They have water on tap at the bar.

- if it's not too busy, go to the pasta station. Choose your pasta (they have all the main varieties to choose from, as well as a couple of whole grain options if you are feeling virtuous). Watch your chef cook your pasta in front of you. This is fresh home made pasta we are talking here, so 3 min is all it needs to get al dente. The curious types, look left: if you are lucky, you will see the dough churning and fresh spaghetti coming out of the pasta maker. Now it's between you and your chef to make your pasta as you like it. Chilli? Garlic? Parmesan shavings? Go on, engage. It's an interactive experience.

- if it's busy, do pizza instead. They give you a buzzer so you don't have to queue. When it buzzes, pick up your pizza and make it personal. Chilli oil and dried oregano work for me.

- a final touch: a leaf or two of fresh basil. They grow their own in pots right there on the tables. Lovely idea, isn't it?

- enjoy your food.

- I know you are full and all, but they do mini-pots of tiramisu and panna cotta. Just saying.

- when done, proceed to check out. Smile. Pay. Grab a handful of gummy bears. Because gummy bears make every meal complete.

- repeat as needed.


In a "beginning of autumn mood" I escaped the weather to eat at Vapiano. Being from Germany I am familiar with the concept, but I have never tried the London branch. Bearing in mind that you can't just rush in and out, but taking the time to actually choose the meal (which is the hardest part. After I having settled for the rucola ravioli my decision was challenged by the special offers (after all it's pumpkin season) - unfortunately they ran out of them. Hopefully next time.

The queues can get really long, especially around 7pm, but it's worth the wait and it's great way to catch up with your friends, while waiting to be served.

I prefer waiting a little longer, but having my meal properly prepared and it's an added bonus to watch the chefs.

Vapiano would not be my choice for a first date, but it's a cosy place and I love the lively atmosphere, which never falls to make me feel at home.

So, if you ever wander around Oxford Circus looking for an affordable, Italian place to eat : you have just found it.

Rellie Loves

This Italian restaurant chain never fails me, and I've tried in in three countries! London, Berlin and Sweden. Vapiano offers freshly cooked Italian food ranging from pizzas and pasta, to antipasti and insalata. Because of the shared seating bench arrangement and dim lighting, the placed always feels cosy and sociable. You can order your food with the swipe of a card at the many counters and watch it being made to order. I always go for extra garlic and chilli on everything! The chicken Cesar salad is amazing, and so is the classic pesto sauce. Simply choose your pasta and it'll be cooked in minutes. They even have spelt spaghetti! Fancy a pizza? They're made to order too. The drink selection is meagre (I always go for a San Pellegrino lemonade) and desserts aren't amazing either, but Vapiano is ALL about the main event! You'll eat for £10 - £15 and be satisfied. On leaving, make sure you grab a handful of gummy bears from the til point. Nice one, Vaps.

Vicky T

When it comes to great and affordable Italian food Vapiano is definitely one of the best choices in central London! This lively restaurant offers fresh food made on the spot (even watching it being cooked can be fun on queless days), which is either pizza or pasta -as well as a selection of antipasti. What is special about it is that it can't be found anywhere else as it is mostly made in-house: that includes a variety of hand cut pasta and the perfect bread they bake and serve for free with every order! The prices are quite low for what they offer in that location, making it worth a visit at anytime! Especially recommended: scampi e spinacci with papardelle!!

Daniel L

I love to watch chefs in action, especially if they are cooking my food! Vapiano allows you to do so without having to order an 11 course tasting menu at a private table in a hotel restaurant. The chefs are friendly and also love a chat as they whip up your pasta from a huge selection. The atmosphere is casual and the mix of comfy chairs and communal benches makes this place the perfect setting for both a quick lunch or an afternoon meal full with three hours of banter. Prices are affordable and portions are great too! 

Danny H

The concept is pretty cool - you sit at big tables with plants and flowers everywhere, you queue and order your own food. However, the service lets the place down, unfortunately. It seemed to take the staff up to 5 minutes to cook each person's individual pasta dish. This is fine in itself, but when there's a queue of 15 people deep, they should really figure out a way to cook a few dishes at a time. Consequently, I had finished my pizza well before my girlfriend even got back to the table with her pasta dish, which was a shame. Nonetheless, the food is very good, and the prices are superb, all things considered. I just wish they would sort out the service system!

Staff Writer

Great modern Italian restaurant with delicious food cooked in front of you. I go here when every I'm in the area!

Emma P
Staff Writer

A barn of a restaurant that lacks soul and warmth. The staff are unfriendly and not particularly helpful. The card system of ordering per person might have benefits if you're in a group, but it's confusing if you want, say, pasta AND salad as you have to go to two different points to queue. Also, if your friend (s) order pasta and you order pizza, you'll be eating your meals at different times. This time round I had soup, which was tasty but lukewarm. The water glasses are the size of a thimble so if you're thirsty, you'll be making a lot of trips to the jug at the bar. 

siobhan f

I'm living in London for over a year, and they do my favourite pasta. It's very very cheap, with no service charge, the quality is absolutely great. There could be a long queue, but it's always quick. The place is tidy and clean. Go there for a mid week dinner , or Saturday afternoon.

Diana B

This place is great because it's fast food that isn't junk. Going in a group is good too, because everyone pays for exactly what they eat and there's different prices lists so you can go here even if you're on a budget! Downside is that it's packed most of the time so sometimes tricky to find a place to sit. I wouldn't say the Pizza or the Pasta is superb but it's not bad, especially for the price.


Cannot understand Time Out's rating here. It's a chain restaurant but an excellent one. Had the Scampi pasta dish (essentially a marinara) and thought it was absolutely outstanding with loads of flavour. A friend had similar but with spinach in a cream sauce. Have visited a huge amount of Italian places around the area and very few match for taste, range and price. Every dish that people passed with looked fantastic. It's noisy, cheap-ish fast food but fresh, very well cooked and authentic. Why two stars?


Tried Vapiano for 1st time a week last week. Had an amazing feta cheese and sundried tomato pasta dish, cooked quickly and ate upstairs under skylights. Had business meeting and colleague also ate - perfect meal, great price (just under £18 for two) and couldn't ask for more in terms of deliious fast food that's not 'junk' when time is pressing. I'll be back again, this time with my family.


Canteen-style gourmet dining with a lively atmosphere and fantastic pizza. Definitely try it out if you're looking for somewhere new and interesting!