The Dish: panna cotta
The Location: Vapiano, 1800 M St. NW, (202) 640-1868
The Price: $4.50
The Skinny: Dining at Vapiano is a little odd. The restaurant emits an almost-too-cool ambiance, but it’s also the sort of place where you can use a tray to carry your order to your table. And there’s a card-reading system that keeps track of what you’ve eaten, meaning that when you’re done, you settle up with a cashier up front. Put it all together, and it feels like you’re chowing down in a gentrified cafeteria. Pizza and pasta, both of which Vapiano offers, are caf staples. But what about panna cotta? It’s not something I recall having eaten in any cafeteria I’ve cooled my heels in. Or anywhere else, for that matter. But between its sweet strawberry-sauce topping and the not-too-sweet vanilla aftertaste, Vapiano’s smooth, creamy version made for a worthy introduction. It’s also the best thing I’ve eaten out of a jar in a good long while.