The 6 best pasta restaurants in London (in my humble opinion). Over the last few years London has majorly upped its pasta game. Having eaten my way through the best unleavened dough the big smoke has to offer, I have managed to whittle my list down to a top 6. And there are some serious contenders - I would go as far as saying it’s some of the best pasta you can find outside of Italy.
1. When I wrote this article, I had yet to try the mother of all pasta restaurants, Bancone Pasta. So here I am, inconspicuously shoe-horning it in at a later date.
'Bancone' means 'bar'or 'counter' in Italian, and was born out of the owners love for wine and pasta (I'm sure we can all relate). Bancone's Instagram speaks for itself, so I won't spend too long trying to justify why you should throw your hard-earned money at it, but I'll just say this. Bancone pasta is quite literally the silkiest pasta or food product that you will ever put in your mouth. I'm not entirely convinced that there isn't actual woven silk in the recipe.
2. Before discovering Bancone, my reigning champion was Padella. ‘Padella’ means Pan in Italian and the food follows the same principle as the name. Simple and necessary. First opening its doors in 2016, Padella shook the world of Pasta to its core. Its no-nonsense no-frills approach to delivering un-compromised, fresh pasta day in day out is unrivalled. It’s a true testament to the restaurant that customers are willing to queue for sometimes hours to sit in the tiny and a little overcrowded London Bridge joint. You have a front-row seat to the pasta being made, which I always find reassuring (if a little hot and sweaty), but at the very least it’s a great conversation filler. The menu is confidently simple and incisive, changing often to reflect the seasons. The price is a bit too reasonable coming in at around £7 per pasta dish, meaning you usually order a minimum of 2 dishes per person often inducing a pasta coma. Padella will make you the envy of your Instagram following and is probably one of the few places left worthy of a basic b**** ‘food pic’.
A non-pasta related NB: I genuinely haven’t stopped thinking about their salted caramel ice-cream, which is decidedly more salt than caramel (so much so it comes with a salt warning from the waitress). The intense saltiness challenges your taste buds but leaves you quite literally salivating for more. If you are for some reason allergic to pasta, (in which case I’m not sure why you have found yourself reading this) I would genuinely go just for the ice cream. Oh, and the Burrata.
3. Just down the road on Bermondsey street you will find Flour and Grape. My second in line if I don’t have enough time or can’t face the queues of Padella. The pasta is also so fresh and so clean - you will be instantly lured in by the tortellini displayed in the windows. The wait time is often much shorter (but still at least 30 mins) than Padella, but it offers a downstairs cocktail and nibbles bar called two one four whilst you wait. You can actually start your meal in the downstairs bar, ordering the starters from the menu upstairs should you get too impatient after drink or two.
Although the restaurant is a more upmarket overall experience than Padella, the dishes follow the same zero fuss approach focusing on simple ingredients and classic combinations. As with Padella, you are limited to a 90 minute slot in which to finish your meal and skedaddle, but the staff do all that they can to make you feel valued and will usually give you an extra few minutes if you have a couple of drops of red still in the bottle.
4. With Artusi being a short walk from my flat in the heart of Peckham, I do feel slightly apprehensive about placing it third. However, after careful consideration and at the risk of being accused of bias/laziness, I’m keeping it in as I think it’s a worthy contender. This is the first on the list that isn’t known solely for its pasta, but for its fresh, original and very instagrammable Italian dishes. It’s clear that the focus in Artusi is on big, reliable ingredients treated with minimum fuss and maximum love. They source a lot of their ingredients from a butcher just around the corner on Bellenden Road called Flock and Herd. You can expect twists on classic pasta dishes, which change often depending on the season and available ingredients. Definitely worth a visit if you want to add some new dishes to your pasta repertoire, or if you are accompanied by a he or she who should not be named (aka a gluten free friend).
5. Trullo was founded in 2010 and is the lovechild of Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda, also the brains behind the more recent Padella. Trullo is an Italian, ingredients focused restaurant which serves top quality pasta and for low prices. It’s a great option if you want to try Padella but don’t want to risk the queues and would rather reserve a table. The main downside is there are only 3 pasta dishes on the menu opposed to the 12 Padella boasts, but on the confident, unembellished menu you can also find meat & veg alternativ0es if you want to try a mixture of dishes.
6. Ok don’t let the word Cafe fool you, this restaurant is anything but. Under the direction of Michelin starred chef Angela Hartnett MBE, you can probably guess that you won’t be heading here for a latte. Cafe Murano is Murano restaurants laid back-ish little sister. First opened in 2013 in Convent Garden, with a further site opening in St. James in 2015, the restaurants serve pasta freshly made every 4 hours to a seriously high standard. Cafe Murano is the priciest on the list, but still won’t break the bank; a meal will set you back around £20 for two courses. I’ve been a couple of times and although I can’t fault the top quality pasta, I think you’re paying the extra, compared to the others on the list for the location and decor rather than the pasta itself.
There are a couple of my favourites that just made the list - but if you can’t make any of the above you could try:
And finally, just in case I haven’t convinced you to leave your house you can get fresh, top quality pasta delivered through your letterbox from Pasta Evangelists.