Va piano – Berlin

They seem to have a thing about Italian food in Germany. For example,  the biggest manufacturer of frozen pizzas is Dr Oetker.

Not only is pasta everywhere but pizza is so popular you could be mistaken for thinking that you were in Naples.

On a recent visit to Berlin with my girlfriend, we happened upon this place.

Upon arrival we were presented with a card and instructed to swipe it every time we ordered something.

It struck me straight away as a gimmick and instantly turned me off the place. Then we were led to the seating area. There were several stations where you could order risotto, pasta and pizza.

the emphasis is on freshly prepared food cooked in front of you.

It’s a lovely idea but it fell apart straight away. The chef couldn’t hear us because of the din. People were waiting for half an hour for their food. Cooking each dish individually means that the chef can only prepare one dish at a time.

Standing around waiting doesn’t feel like you are in a restaurant, more like McDonalds.

There’s a very good reason why most restaurants don’t have open kitchens: most (nearly all) chefs are ugly with terrible anger-management problems.

There’s also nothing remotely interesting about watching an overworked Polish immigrant cooking the 100th bowl of pasta.

My bowl of spaghetti Carbanora tasted tougher than my shoelaces.No doubt it was not properly cooked because of the throng of people waiting at the counter. I sent it back and the second bowl was scarcely any better.

Shareholders love this idea, and you can see why. Getting the customers to place their order and wait for it means they can do away with waiting staff. Hell, you don’t even need a kitchen, you have the chefs prepare everything in the dining room.

I was so taken aback by the concept that I investigated the company. It turns out that they have restaurants in London too with a big one near the Thames at Bankside. If this is the future of restaurants, count me out.

Va Piano, Alexander Platz

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