I am surprised to find myself giving Vapiano a 4.5 rating. I wasn’t planning to; it just kind of happened. I have passed this place by consistently for the last two years, and had pretty much no desire to ever go in. But last week a friend and I ended up here because our original Iftar destination was booked up and we didn’t feel like leaving the Gate Mall. I am glad things worked out the way they did.
When we walked in, it was PACKED and LOUD. It also took us a ridiculous amount of time to get our food after we ordered it. However, it was also Iftar on a Friday night. My friend had been here several times before, and said that it is usually only 1/2 to 3/4 full, with a wait time of 10-20 minutes for food.
At first I thought the ambiance was going to be a little slick and corporate for my liking, but once we got in and got settled, the decor really grew on me. The lighting is soft but not dim, there are plants everywhere but the lines are clean and uncluttered. It has a modern and yet a homey feel, all at the same time. It is definitely a kid-friendly place. I saw tons of families eating here.
It took more than an hour for us to get our food (but again, I think this is because it was a weekend Iftar). We ordered a margherita pizza and a capricciosa pizza, as well as a caesar salad. The salad was good, but not anything to write home about. I didn’t have high expectations for the pizza either. Watching other people eating theirs while we waited (and waited, and waited), I braced myself for the same limp crust that seems to be endemic to Doha.
I was pleasantly surprised. More than that, I was shocked…because it turns out that Vapiano makes some of THE BEST pizza I have had in Doha! I know! I’m as surprised as you are.
Right now, I’d put it in the Top 3. Granted, the bar is pretty low for good pizza in Doha, but Vapiano did a fine job. The margherita wasn’t too salty, the crust held up pretty well to being picked up, and the tomato sauce was the right combination of tangy and sweet. The capricciosa was even better. I know the “ham” was veal and not “the meat that shall not be named,” but the charade wasn’t as obvious as it usually is. The ham (gasp) actually had a “hammy” flavor.
In both cases, the pizza crusts were still a little limp in the center. That has been true of every pizza I have had in Doha that I didn’t bake myself, including the best pizzas in my top three. But the outer crust was toasted and crunchy without being dry. That is exactly what I am looking for.
I didn’t try the pastas, although they looked pretty good as well. I’ll probably be back. But when I do, I probably still won’t know what the pasta tastes like. Because I’m going to order some more of Vapiano’s delicious pizza.
I came here expecting to dislike the place; as I walked in I was already writing the review in my head. But I had a humbling and rare experience over the course of my meal. Vapiano frustrated my expectations by exceeding them. They truly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. I stand corrected.