10 February 2012

A Transition Pt. 1: Vapiano

To start off, I've decided to share the first several posts [the only ones actually] from my previous foodie blog.  Allow me to elaborate:

I began "Chronicles of a Berry Tart" to document my adventures through NYC dining. However, I ended up wanting to blog about other things beside eating but thought it would be inappropriate to write about cool events that I've gone to [yeah, right] on a food blog. That's how "Musings" was born!

(1) and so it begins…

This is it. The inception of something [potentially] great.
To start off, allow me to announce that I’m vegetarian. It started in May 2011 as a personal challenge and after a while, I got used to it and realized that I didn’t miss meat at all (except for French Onion Soup and burgers). To be honest, I can’t imagine myself reverting back at all… unless for some ungodly reason I decide to harvest a monster in my womb. Regardless, I’m 9 months and going strong!
Let’s get back to the main point.
Where: Vapiano, University Place near Union Sq.
Food: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Service: 5/5

Do you like freshly-made pasta? Pizza? Like to chill with your friends at the bar? Are you a student looking for cheap, good eats? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then it’s time for you to visit Vapiano [now] (seriously).
Located on University Place, Vapiano is the perfect Italian companion to Union Square’s diverse variety of eateries.
As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by friendly hostesses who kindly explain the seat-yourself card system to those expecting a formal sit-down meal with a rigid menu and evanescent waiters. Of course, I was one of the unknowing first-timers who immediately demanded a table for 5 and became confused and overwhelmed when I learned it was a seat-yourself establishment. Where, oh where were we going to sit and why wasn’t there a host[ess] to decide that for us?! But maybe I’m just super picky and indecisive when it comes to where to sit.
One interesting thing is that Vapiano has a card system. Upon arrival, each guest is issued a card which is “swiped” for every food item a diner orders. At departure, diners present their card at the cash register to pay for the food items that they ordered themselves. The great thing? It saves the trouble of figuring out how to split the bill. Love it!
By the time we had chosen a table in the far back corner on the first floor [of two], we had noticed and realized that there were cooks under signs labelled “Pasta,” “Pizza,” and “Antipasta” (there was probably a Panini sign too) who would prepare our orders. I chose the Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci and ordered it after preparing my recitation of the dish. It might have just been my lucky day, but I was gifted a cute cook (mid-20s) who called me cute (insert melting heart here). After making some small talk and asking me how old I was and why I was there, there was some awkward tension between us when he learned I was still in high school. But nevertheless I watched him prepare my ravioli in a mere 10 minutes and thanked him graciously upon receiving my plate.
One thing that particularly annoyed me though was having to retrieve my own utensils, glass, and napkin. That just made the place seem like a buffet and that’s just not cool. Sorry :(

Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci. Note: This isn’t my own picture, but maybe that’s a lesson to “shoot first, eat later”
The ravioli was complemented with freshly grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of black pepper (because I tend to add it to everything- not because it was bland). I didn’t realize it was available, but they offer bread too (gratis). Unfortunately, my ravioli was a little bit undercooked, but it was great regardless. The tomato sauce was perfectly seasoned and the ravioli had the perfect ricotta-spinach ratio. Love!
I got the chance to try some of the Funghi Spaghetti (spaghetti with cream sauce and mushrooms) and it was pretty damn good. The cream sauce was perfect- not too thick, not too creamy, not too thin- perfect. I also tried a bite of the Bruschetta pizza and that was wonderful. I could taste how fresh the arugula was and the tomatoes paired it off perfectly.
The decor was very chic and there were many natural elements that really added to the idea of a freshly made Italian eatery. There are several different table arrangements that provide a choice for the diners although choosing a spot may seem a tad overwhelming. The restaurant was not busy at all and we were not rushed or pressured to leave within certain time parameters. Overall, it was a very intimate and calming setting and I will definitely be back for more.

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