Euro-Chain Vapiano Makes Its Debut

How hip can Ballston be? Don't get me wrong, I love the place. It's my neighborhood and I appreciate its urban/suburban mixture. But when models in tiny black dresses greeted me at the opening of Vapiano on the corner of Glebe Road Wednesday night, it was hard not to roll my eyes.

The first area outpost of the Germany-based pasta franchise is trying to set the tone for a  trendy, yet casual dining experience. There are 20 Vapianos around the world–with stores in Istanbul, Vienna, Dubai and Budapest–and they’re making their US debut with three DC locations, here in Ballston, near Dupont Circle (18th and M streets) and in Chinatown (623 H St., NW). The downtown spots are scheduled to open in May and June, respectively.

Past the hired cool, the Italian-inspired restaurant and lounge looked fresh and modern. White walls and floors and tables of light oak pulsated with lounge music. Pasta is made fresh in the store–you can watch the process through large windows–and herbs grow against the back wall. When you walk in you get a “chip” — a Vapiano credit card — to record every pomegranate martini, bruschetta and made-to-order pasta dish you pick up, then you pay all at once on the way out.

A three-sided fireplace and short, cushy red chairs by the bar act as Vapiano's  lounge. Can Ballston supply the nightlife needed to keep a lounge hip? Maybe it's just what we didn't know we needed.

Pastas and pizza range from $6.75 to $9.75.

Vapiano, 4401 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-528-3113;