Action is fast on appetizers and salads, which are decent but without distinction. Our "seasonal" soup was "red pepper ginger" ($3.95), a good-size bowl that looks like tomato soup but tastes better. The mixed antipasto ($8.95) features artichokes, shaved parmesan, roasted carrots, bruschetta topped with chopped April tomatoes, some arugula, fresh mozzarella, and black olives. The antipasto di carne ($9.95) has good but purchased Genoa salami, provolone, prosciutto, spiced pressed ham, and more arugula. Both platters would be enough for a light lunch.
Strawberry spinach salad ($9.95) also has dabs of goat cheese and some red onion, pulled together by a way-too-sweet "raspberry maple" dressing. Spicy orange fennel salad ($10.95) sounds like the classic Sicilian salad, but it's more greens than fennel or orange, and all the spice is in the dressing.
There are only two draft beers, but one of them is Pilsner Urquell ($4.95), the delightfully crisp model of Samuel Adams Lager. Unfortunately, it was ruined by a bad aftertaste. (Gotta be geek-dedicated around the taps, dudes.) A glass of Santa Julia reserve malbec ($9/glass; $34.50 bottle) has excellent fruit and stuffing — a happy medium between the tannic French Cahors style and the thin, bare-alcohol cheapies from Argentina. Pinot grigio Casalini ($6.50/glass) is an Italian style, with fruity aromas on a light dry wine. The wines are not listed by vintages, but show well in oversize glasses. There are also Italian sodas, including my little friend, Sanbitter, the tiny bottle of red soda that tastes like Campari, and rather good cappuccino ($2.75) and Americano ($2.25, smaller and stronger than American cups), both from Illy.
Desserts are premade in plastic cups, but some fit into my campaign for smaller desserts, notably the panna cotta with strawberry sauce ($2.75) and a white chocolate mousse ($2.50) that is more froth than cream, but nice at the price.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at email@example.com.
VAPIANO |191 STUART STREET, BOSTON | 857.445.0236 | VAPIANOINTERNATIONAL.COM | OPEN SUNDAY–WEDNESDAY, 11 AM–10 PM; THURSDAY, 11 AM–11 PM; AND FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, 11–12 AM | AE, MC, VI | FULL BAR | SIDEWALK-LEVEL ACCESS | NO VALET PARKING