Where To Eat Pasta In London
We love pasta. You love pasta. Everyone loves pasta. Here’s where you should be eating it.
From university troughs of spag bol to the pre-payday pesto ritual, pasta has always been our go-to for an easy, tasty, saucy, or cheesy meal. But recently, words like ‘fresh’ and ‘handmade’ have started appearing in the descriptions of new speciality fresh handmade pasta restaurants. And that means Londoners are eating more pasta. Which is definitely a good thing. You just need to make sure you’re eating the right pasta at the right places. Specifically, these places.
La Mia Mamma
Picture it: there’s a troupe of Italian female chefs, all from different regions, cooking you different handmade pastas. They’re laughing, smiling, ladling another spoonful of lasagne on your plate the minute you finish your cacio e pepe. In an ideal world, this would be our life everyday. And if you’re close to the King’s Road (or even if you’re not) it can be. La Mia Mamma is that picture and more. It’s fun loving, affordable, and best of all, full of excellent pasta.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Owned by the San Carlo restaurant group and located directly by Harrods, Cicchetti has several things to get excited about. From the jazzed-up dining room that makes you feel like you’ve escaped Brompton Road and somehow landed in Venice to the daydream-worthy truffle and pecorino ravioli, it’s more than worth your time. The gorgonzola gnocchi, which arrives in a “baked parmesan basket”, is creamy and a real winner. As is the lasagne al forno—a slow-cooked beef ragu with layers of rich tomato sauce and pasta. So the next time you’re in Knightsbridge, or even if you aren’t, this is a spot that should be on your radar.
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We all have that friend. You know, that one who really knows their way around a Tame Impala album, can quote a Haruki Murakami novel with ease, and manages to do it all without even really trying. Officina 00 is the squid ink tagliolini-serving, restaurant version of that mate. It knows it’s cool but it’s still laid-back and generally pretty casual. As perfect for a date night as it is for a lunchtime catch-up with mates, this Old Street spot is also really affordable and the must-order corzetti is only a tenner.
photo credit: Ave Mario
If you like small delicate portions and polite chatter, move along. Ave Mario is a silly, OTT restaurant that also happens to serve one of our favourite pastas in London. The mafaldine al tartufo is rich, creamy, with an al dente bite and enough quality truffle to make you feel like a functioning fancy adult. So if you’re looking for somewhere that can offer you memorable pasta and a memorable neon-light bathroom selfie session, then this Italian bonanza is most definitely for you.
Although it’s primarily a daytime bakery, Pophams in Hackney serves handmade pastas in the evening from Wednesday to Sunday, and they’re all rather lovely. The supper-clubbish candlelit atmosphere makes it a perfect date location. Whether that date involves you and someone else or it’s more of a you and a sensational bowl of cappellacci dei briganti, is something that only you can decide. Though we’d recommend the former. More bodies equals more pasta.
Padella is one of those restaurants that everyone and their cousin's dog hypes up. Except with Padella, it actually lives up to the hype. The London Bridge spot has been serving handmade pasta since it opened in 2016. It’s a no reservations, industrial-looking spot with an A5-sheet-of-paper-menu kind of place. On that concise menu, there’s a handful of antipasti and a list of seasonally-changing pastas, all for under £15, that you’ll wish were a year-round thing. But there are some solid fixtures like the pici cacio e pepe that you won’t want to share—and at £11, there’s no need to.
Burro e Salvia
Sfoglina may sound a bit like the noise we make when we blow our nose but in Italy it’s something much better. It’s the term used for the person who runs the show, the person everyone wants to be friends with: the pasta maker. Burro’s sfoglina is up front as soon as you walk into the Shoreditch restaurant and shop and, basically, you want to be eating everything they’re making. The signature beef, pork, and spinach-stuffed agnolotti is excellent, while the rest of the menu changes depending on the month. It’s a little pricier than other places, but the pasta is seriously high quality.
Flour & Grape
Flour & Grape in Bermondsey shouldn’t just be thought of as a Padella back-up, even though it is close by, because it’s worth booking here to try the roast pork shoulder tortellini regardless. Like all the best things in life, these guys come with a lot of butter. A paddling pool of butter and sage to be precise. Which, frankly, is how all good foods should be served. This place is an easy win on all fronts. It’s relaxed but refined, well-priced, and has the perfect short menu of superbly cooked pasta. Order them all.
Ciao Bella is one of our favourite London institutions. It’s a place that serves pasta, pizza, and every Italian food in between. This is an Italian restaurant that everyone can get behind because everyone is welcome. The classic seafood linguine is inexplicably served in a greaseproof paper bag that slides out onto your plate, singular prawn and all. It’s great. Warning: you may or may not be serenaded by a man playing the piano. It’s that kind of place.
Bocca Di Lupo
Bocca’s pasta is one of the many great things about this restaurant. This isn’t a place you really want to be in and out of. This is a settle down and get your arse into a comfy seat kind of place. Each pasta here can be ordered as a small or large plate, and the small plates are generous. The rigatoni with calves intestines is (in)famous, but we’re more into the orecchiette or tortellini. You can easily share the majority of the pastas on offer for 20 quid each between two, and that’s a pretty amazing deal for a place like this.
photo credit: Cin Cin
This Italian bar and kitchen in Fitzrovia is a Brighton import that serves a bigoli with such perfect al dente bite that we have officially added ‘stop eating mediocre pasta’ to our five-year life plan. It comes in a Venetian duck ragu that is so deliciously rich, you won’t even be mad that it'll set you back £17. Ideal for date night and aperitivo-fuelled four-hour catch-ups, the sophisticated dining room is a truly lovely place to be but when the sun is shining, you can’t beat the quintessentially London pavement seating. Affogato and limoncello shots encouraged.
The lovely, warm counter at Bancone is somewhere you can get great, affordable handmade pasta, burrata, and classic cocktails. This Covent Garden spot is seriously popular, so although walk-ins are encouraged, you should book ahead if you want to make sure you can get involved in the silk handkerchiefs with walnut butter and confit egg yolk—which by the way, tastes just as good as it looks on everyone's Instagram stories.
Another spot that falls into the ‘old-school’ category, Da Mario is the kind of place that will play Frank Sinatra on loop and make you smile. The pasta here is of the pomodoro-that-I-probably-don’t-need-to-finish-but-do variety and we love it. This is definitely not one of your artisanal pasta places that flies in San Marzano tomatoes that have come straight from the base of Mount Vesuvius. But that doesn’t matter because it’s nice and will make you happy.
If you like great pasta, then heaven probably looks a lot like Luca. This is a proper restaurant (and as a result has some proper prices), but don’t let that put you off because a) the pasta is sensational and b) it’s one of our favourite restaurants in London. For a meal that’s lighter on your wallet, head to the bar (which just happens to be one of the sexiest bars in London) for lunch—there’s a stunning prix fixe menu with a couple of pastas on offer.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Pastaio is just that. Kind of like the Bort Simpson to London’s best-known ‘P’ pasta restaurant, Pastaio still makes some lovely pasta with a handy location in central and one in Westfield White City. This is a great option when you want to be in and out of somewhere pretty quickly but are still looking for that wild boar, or crab and chilli fix. You want the good stuff but you don’t want to wait too long or spend too much time getting it. We get that sometimes, and we’re down with it.
Anima e Cuore
Institution Alert: if you’re from North London and you don’t know about Anima, it’s time to get to know it. The pasta changes daily and comes with a range of ingredients from rabbit to fresh peas to clams. It’s tiny here—22 seats tiny. So we recommend booking to avoid sadness and hunger. Oh and it’s BYOB. Oh, and we know this is a pasta guide, but they make their own ice cream as well.
If you’re a Peckham local, then you’re probably in Artusi on the regular. If you’re not, then you need to jump on the Overground because this excellent ‘Italian-inspired’ neighbourhood restaurant makes some delicious pasta. There are usually two or three dishes on the menu and you can expect sauces and combinations such as cacio e pepe and the like. Think spaghetti with octopus and broccoli or bucatini with chard and raisins. This pasta is worth travelling for, if required.
Tagliatelle. That’s what you’re going to get at Franzina Trattoria and you’re going to like it. We’re not saying that’s the pasta you have to order, we’re saying it’s the pasta you literally have to order because it’s all they make. There are five choices of the stuff and they’re all great. The black squid ink and calamari one is pretty special to look at, and it’s pretty special to swiftly consume as well. It’s not squid ink pasta, but the pasta is tossed in squid ink. A small but vital difference in our opinion. It’s a cosy place as well. As cosy as a shipping container in Brixton can be we guess.
The younger sibling to Artusi, Marcella is a very nice little restaurant two seconds from Deptford station. It has a similar Italy-inspired vibe and the menu has a few different things going on, but there are usually four changing pasta dishes. We have very fond memories of a squid ink bucatini, but whatever you order will be good. Go with a friend and get all four because, well, why wouldn’t you?