I had the pleasure of visiting Vapiano, Mockingbird Station's new "fresh-casual" restaurant, last weekend for lunch and a chat with owner Tim McCallum. In addition to serving up delicious, made-from-scratch Italian pastas, pizzas and salads, McCallum is also committed to making this first Texas outpost of the European chain reflect its unique location. Here are just a few of the local touches I loved:
- Texas wine. Vapiano offers an eclectic array of wines by the glass and bottle. I was pleasantly surprised to note Grape Creek Vineyards' Bellissimo is on the list.
The restaurant's indoor herb garden
- Local "greens". Over 1,000 herb plants are growing at restaurant, many surrounding two olive trees transplanted from Bella Vista Ranch in Wimberley.
- Resident artists. Works by local artists decorate the walls in Vapiano's chic red cocktail lounge and a giant blackboard hangs in the dining room, painted with colorful scenes by SMU art students.
A chef at Vapiano, putting on the "show"
This attention to detail is also reflected in the food - and that's the most important part, right? All of Vapiano's pastas and sauces are made fresh in-house, and the aforementioned herbs are harvested for use in the restaurant's signature dressings.
And speaking of pasta, one of the most interesting aspects of a trip to Vapiano is watching the chefs prepare your meal right before your eyes. “Part of Vapiano is the show," McCallum explained to me, with a smile. Utilizing futuristic magnetic induction cooktops, their chefs can whip up a simmering sauce in the blink of an eye. Add some fusilli and call it a meal! Limitless choices for customization (make it spicy, try a new pasta, add some chicken or steak, etc.) also make the process interactive.
...Oh, and did I mention that no dish is over $10.95? In fact, many ring in at around $8. Nice. Check out www.vapianointernational.com for more info and menus.