Talisa Dean 17/02/23
The Best Fresh Pasta London Has To Offer | A Deep Dive Into The Heart Of Carbness
Most restaurants in London can make a decent pasta dish…
…but only a handful can properly gnocchi-t out the park.
See there, are plenty of great Italian restaurants in London. And heck, even a globe-trotting modern European spot can have a decent crack at it. But London’s had something of a fresh pasta renaissance in recent years, with dedicated restaurants popping up with the props to rival any Italian nonna’s kitchen.
And so here we list the places to go for the finest fresh pasta in London. We’re talking hand-crafted ribbons of pappardelle that’ve been kneaded, stretched, and sliced fresh that morning, ready to be bathed in an 8-hour beef shin ragu. There’s squid ink spaghetti with crab, chilli & lemon; bucatini with mussels & white wine; and the ultimate cacio e pepe; all personally tried and tested.
They’re worth every penne.
Lina Stores is an Italian deli that first opened in 1944. Then, 75 years later, they suddenly realised that they should probably be selling fresh pasta as well as the dried stuff. And thus they opened a casual pasta restaurant in Soho, where, alongside a short menu of classic Italian antipasti, they sell small plates of fresh pasta topped with everything from black summer truffle to crab. You can either get a couple to yourself, or order the whole set and share. Although make sure to keep room for dessert – particularly their rich dark chocolate cake and whipped cream – washed down by a Negroni or a glass of Italian wine.
Details: 51 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 4EH | Book here
It’s been seven years and you still can’t avoid queuing for Padella. Which is sort of unsurprising seeing as it comes to us from the folks behind Bib Gourmand-winner Trullo (another great pasta restaurant on this list). The original spot is a two-floor, art-deco-dressed space in Borough, where – alongside a small selection of classic cocktails (with a little creative twist) – you can tuck into the likes of Westcombe ricotta and sage ravioli; an extraordinary cacio e pepe; and tagliarini with Dorset crab; all for about a tenner. And their East London follow-up, Padella Shoreditch, has all the charms of the original (albeit in a more spacious, industrial-styled space), with the added benefit of having a smattering of tables available to book each day.
Details: Padella London Bridge, 6 Southwark Street, Borough, South London, SE1 1TQ; Padella Shoreditch, 1 Phipp Street, EC2A 4PS | It’s mostly walk-ins only, but they do take some bookings here.
Bancone | Trafalgar Square, Soho
It’s another fresh pasta restaurant in Central London you can – ahem – Bancone being great; and we’re not the only ones who think that, either – Michelin has awarded the original site a Bib Gourmand. The pasta’s made freshly in-house at both sites each day: bucatini; ditalini, silk handkerchief…ini; before being topped with everything from walnut butter & confit egg yolk, to lobster with semi-dried tomato, garlic & chilli. It’s delicious, but it isn’t going to break the bank either. And – as if that’s all not exciting enough – you can also book, all week, every week, like the good old days.
Address: Bancone Covent Garden: 39 William IV St, Charing Cross, London, WC2N 4DD; Bancone Soho: 8-10 Lower James Street, Soho, W1F 9EL | Book here
This one comes to us, in part, from Stevie Parle, the home-grown chef behind everything from Sardine to Craft London. Along with a couple of his mates, he wanted to create a relaxed, friendly space where people could enjoy some of the best pasta London can offer, for affordable prices. And that’s exactly what he’s done. The restaurant itself has been styled by British designer Tom Dixon, who’s covered one wall in a bright, street-art-meets-futurism mural; the pasta’s delicious whilst also being relatively inexpensive; annnnd they do cocktails, including a Prosecco slushy; which is helped along by a reliably upbeat playlist.
Details: 19 Ganton Street, Soho, W1F 7BU | Book here
Peckham’s Oi Spaghetti is so small you risk walking pasta… but don’t, because this unusual restaurant – housed in a shed in a car park – is full of some of the best fresh pasta south of the river. We’re talking hefty piles of spaghetti topped with everything from organic chestnut mushrooms with garlic & cream, and black truffle oil to Sicilian anchovies and Kalamata olives – with Peronis and limoncello to wash it all down.
Details: 133 Copeland Road, Copeland Industrial Park, London, SE15 3SN | Book here
Notto was notto always called Notto… It was originally Otto, a smash-hit pasta delivery service from chef Phil Howard (owner of Michelin-starred Elystan Street). The ‘n’ was added to avoid any conflict with another restaurant in London called Otto. Now, with the potential naming-rights war in the rear, they’re fully focused on what they do best: fresh, handmade pasta, in eight very digestible variations, including pappardelle with slow-cooked oxtail and red wine, and a herbed ricotta ravioli number that shimmers in a creamy walnut sauce. They say to order at least three to share. Notto bad idea…
Details: 198-200 Piccadilly, W1J 9EZ | Book here
It’s the debut restaurant from ex-Bancone and Tavolino chef Louis Korovilas. The kind of easy-going but consistently delicious place that every neighbourhood needs. As you might have guessed from his CV, the star of the show is fresh pasta, dressed up with everything from seared scallops to veal and pork Genovese ragu. However, you’ll also find a selection of Sicilian small plates to start (get the‘nduja arancini) and the likes of whipped dark chocolate gelato for sweet. Topped with frosted pistachios and candied kumquats of course.
Details: 4 – 6 Islington Green, Angel, N1 2XA | Book here
Whilst it’s not pasta-exclusive, Italian-inspired Artusi still does some of the best pasta you’ll find in London, topped with sustainable seasonal produce from the likes of Natoora, or Flock & Herd. This means, alongside a large glass of exclusively Italian wine, you can tuck into a bowl of bucatini with mussels and white wine, or rigatoni with Datterini tomatoes, pine nuts, ricotta; all from the comfort of their low-key, slightly Scandi neighbourhood restaurant of wooden panelled floors, white-washed walls, and big blackboards chalked with the daily specials.
Details: 161 Bellenden Road, Peckham, SE15 4DH | Book here
Emilia’s Craft Pasta is owned by Andrew, who studied maths at university before a long trip travelling around Italy resulted in him falling in love… with pasta. In particular, Andrew took a fancy for the science behind the pairings – how the individual geometry determined which sauce suited it best. It’s an unlikely marriage between maths and pasta, and Emilia’s is the bright-eyed baby girl. The St. Katharine Docks and Canary Wharf restaurants are both set, rather romantically, by the water. Here you can kick back, crack open a bottle of wine, and watch the sunset, a plate of 4-hour slow-cooked béchamel bolognese in tow. If you’re veggie, go for the tomato and buffalo mozzarella (sounds simple, tastes delicious), followed either by a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with honey, crushed amaretti, and cantuccini biscuits, or maybe just a couple of shots of Grappa, in true post-dinner Italian style.
Details: C3, Ivory House, St Katharine Docks Wapping, London E1W 1AT | Book here
Officina 00 has been such a hit in Shoreditch, they’ve just opened a second spot, Officina 00 Fitzrovia. Their USP is slightly unusual pasta dishes – things like cavatelli (small, shell-like pasta) with padrón peppers, almond pesto, and crispy coppa; or corzetti (big disc-like pasta) with wild mushroom, fennel, sausage, and parsley. For starters they’ve got cacio & pepe ravioli (a definite must-have) whilst sweets take the form of both lemon and chocolate profiteroles – again, difficult to turn down.
Address: 156 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BW | 67 Whitfield St, London W1T 4DE | Book here
Manteca comes to us courtesy of Smokestak founder David Carter and former Kitty Fisher’s head chef Chris Leach. They’ve joined forces, combining Leach’s passion for Italian cooking (strengthened by months travelling around Napoli and Rome) with Carter’s deep-rooted knowledge of nose-to-tail, butchery, and charcuterie. The result is big bowls of fresh pappardelle with ox cheek ragu; or agnolotti dal plin (a sort of frilly ravioli) with pork and hazelnuts. There’s also a number of other non-pasta dishes, like pork lamb neck with charred cauliflower and Sicilian pomegranates, all eased down by a drinks menu of Amaro-based cocktails and wine.
Details: 49-51 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3PT | Book here | More of the best restaurants in Shoreditch
Flour, grapes, and just a smattering of a few other well-selected ingredients go into a meal at this warm, laid-back eatery on Bermondsey Street. Regular items on their streamlined, all-pasta menu include roasted pork shoulder & sage tortelloni and an upmarket carbonara with guanciale, parmesan and confit egg yolk, all accompanied by top-notch Italian wines and classic desserts. It’s a no-bookings restaurant and can get mighty popular even on a quiet weekday – but it’ll probably be the most delicious queue you’ve ever experienced, since you can hole up in their basement bar with a cocktail and burrata while you wait.
Details: 214 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ | Join the virtual queue here
Hidden down a cobbled side street off Hackney’s Columbia Road, you’ll chance upon some of the best pasta in London; an authentically rustic Italian joint, complete with its very own nonna, hand-rolling pasta the way her nonna taught her. A former dairy, Campania still wears the original dark wooden front, adorned with a faded ‘S Jones’. The inside too is just as charming; wooden slatted walls and a concrete floor are offset by hanging filament lights and glass jars stuffed full of flowers. It also boasts a little cobbled patio in the middle where, tucked away from the outside bustle, you can feast on the likes of gnudi dressed in butter, parmesan, and crispy sage leaves, or big plates of seafood spaghetti – as well as a whole range of other Italian fare. The portions are generous, and the price-tag isn’t crippling, although it’s without a doubt the atmosphere – alive and buzzy – that keeps people coming back.
Details: 23 Ezra St, Bethnal Green, London E2 7RH | Book here
It’s Padella’s older sister. A handsome two-floored Italian restaurant in North London, boasting scuffed wooden floors, dark leather booths, and enormous windows flooding it with light. Here you can tuck into large knots of fettucine cacio e pepe ,or pappardelle with beef shin ragu, without having to worry about a queue. They take reservations, all days of the week, not to mention everyone is seated at a proper table and chairs, meaning you can comfortably kick back and relax – with or without a bottle of their all-Italian wines – for as long as you please.
Details: 300-302 St. Pauls Road, North London, N1 2LH | Book here
Looking for fresh pasta on the trot? Eataly – a vast, two-storey food paradise dedicated to Italian produce – has a fresh pasta counter in their ground floor cafeteria (alongside a huge double-height cocktail bar, a wood-fired oven putting out Roman-style pizza by the slice, a deli, a bakery, a wine bar, and some tables to eat everything at). It’s basically the Subway of fresh pasta, where you can pick out your carb and sauce of choice, and ten minutes later it’ll be ready to go (or to enjoy outside on their terrace, for the full Italian effect). And if you’re thinking, pff, a food paradise should really have a proper sit-down pasta restaurant and a dedicated pasta-making workshop space for masterclasses… then don’t worry, they have those too.
Details: 135 Bishopsgate, EC2M 3YD
Russell Norman’s Brutto isn’t specifically a pasta restaurant. It’s the Polpo founder’s ‘ugly but good’ trattoria specialising in the hearty regional cooking of Tuscany… which, as it happens, does involve its fair share of fresh pasta. The region borders Emilia-Romagna, and this is probably the best spot you can get authentic tortelloni in brodo without visiting Bologna. Aside from that, there’s also dishes like penne con vodka and rabbit ragù-smothered pappardelle… plus £5 negronis to boot.
Details: 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross St, EC1M 6BN | Book here
The gist: it’s a kitschy Italian trattoria just off Old Street roundabout from the Big Mamma Group, who are also behind the equally popular Ave Mario, Circolo Popolare, and Jacuzzi. Why you should go: indulgent Italian fare, cocktails, and general excess. Try the ten-layer lasagne or the carbonara, made right in front of your eyes in a giant wheel of pecorino cheese…
Details: 54-56 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3QR | Book here
You know what goes nicely with pasta? Wine. Take a look at our guide to the best wine bars in London.
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