A sign showing Vapiano Canberra

One of the world’s largest and most successful Italian food chains has opened in Canberra. Vapiano has arrived, and its launch last week signals that it is likely to become a regular spot for many Canberra diners.


Vapiano is a Bonn-headquartered global chain with over 200 stores worldwide.  I used to eat at Vapiano is Taipei; it was modern and hip, and from the lounge chairs or tables there were spectacular views out to the iconic Taipei 101 across the road.  It was a popular place to hang out with friends as the food was good and reasonably priced and the atmosphere was relaxed and interesting.  A good friend told me she is super excited that Vapiano is now in Canberra as it used to be her favourite place to dine when she lived in Serbia.  There are currently six restaurants in Australia, with the Australian headquarters in Brisbane.

Vapiano mostly provides stock standard Italian food that is both quality and good value – but there are several unexpected standout things on the Canberra menu.

  1. Vapiano gets Canberra. There is nothing worse than feeling like a Canberra restaurant is the last to open as part of a bigger chain, kind of like a forgotten afterthought.  This is not the case here.  The signs over the counter, looking out to the open kitchen, have many quirky Canberra (and Queanbeyan) references. I especially loved Enlighten graphics.  But more than signage, they also have local beers and wine.  This includes Nick O’Leary Riesling (which I am quite partial to).
  2. They do good pasta and pizzas. Through the open kitchen, you can see a whole crew of hardworking staff pumping out pasta and pizzas – there is a huge big gleaming pizza oven. It kind of reminds me of the trend of watching Chinese staff create delicate dumplings behind a mirror.  The pizzas are quick and thin and very moreish.  They can even do gluten-free for an additional $5.

  3. They have lunch specials from $10. Their Margherita pizza is usually $16, for instance, but the same dish is served for only $10 at lunchtime.  I am sure this will quickly become a popular venue for casual work lunches. (P.S. Who wants to come and have lunch with me?)
  4. They cater for vegetarians and people with food intolerances. In fact, they embrace it, which is evident from their menu. A lady on our table was vegetarian and couldn’t eat cheese: it a problem.
  5. Their house beer is very drinkable. The lager is brewed in Griffith.  My partner, not normally a big drinker, had four pints.  “It has honey tones,” he mused while downing another.  “Kind of like James Squire Golden Ale.”  Intrigued, and not usually a beer drinker, I tried some of his and immediately ordered my own glass to drink.  As did my hipster friend. Like I said, it is very drinkable.

    我好朋友喜欢和Vapiano特别弄的啤酒。 我男友也喜欢,说合起来有蜂蜜味道。
  6. The décor is light and bright and comfortable. It kind of reminds me of an IKEA store in that it has that same modern feel to it.  There are oak tables and olive trees and lots of space and light.  This isn’t some pokey family run Italian restaurant with red check tablecloths (as charming as some of them can be).  Instead, this is somewhere you could take teenagers to that they would think was cool and hip. Well, they would probably think the restaurant was cooler than hanging out with their parents …

  7. Kids under 14 can dine for only $10. They make a cool aeroplane shaped pasta that I know my boys will love.
  8. Their Nutella cheesecake dessert is yum yum yum. Next time I want to try their white chocolate cheesecake, which is drizzled with salted caramel sauce and honeycomb pieces.


There are several excellent Italian restaurants in Canberra at the upper end of the market. But until now, there have not been many that serve simple, affordable and fun food.  Vapiano is consistently good and is likely to fill that gap quickly.

On a side note, Vapiano has a cashless ordering system.  A similar system operated at its Taipei restaurant.  On my first visit in Taipei, the wait staff accidentally cleared my electronic thingummybob and threw it in the bin.  The staff freaked out and it took me around 15 before I could pay the bill.  While inconvenient, it was also embarrassing as I was hosting a work contact. Moral of the story is not to leave this electronic device out of your sight for one second.

What:  Vapiano (Italian food)

Where:  Level 1, Novotel Canberra, 65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra



What:  Vapiano (Italian food)

Where:  Level 1, Canberra Canberra, 65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra


Social media:   @vapianoaustralia

Entertainment Book:  Vapiano Australia has a longstanding relationship with the Entertainment Book.  Its contribution to the Canberra membership has not yet been finalised, but I am hoping it will be 25% off the bill consistent with what it offers in other stores.

Suitable for: Work lunches, pre-movie or cinema meals, for getting to know you first dates, and dining out with kids.

Social media:   @vapianoaustralia


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