In today’s image-led generation of Insta-happy millennials, it comes as no surprise that one good (or bad) photo has the potential to make or break a restaurant. Such is the story behind Bancone, who’s famous pasta dish (silk handkerchiefs, walnut butter and confit egg yolk) went viral on Instagram and the rest, as they say, is history. Its sleek yet cosy interior makes it an easy, anytime-dining destination, whether it’s a solo lunch at the marble-top bar or a big birthday dinner in their private dining room. It also ticks the affordability box (although you’ll want to plan in advance when reserving a table – it books up quickly as a result). Do get the ‘handkerchief’ dish if you go (it’s less than a tenner). The brown shrimp and seaweed butter bucatini is brilliant too, as is their ossobuco ravioli with saffron butter. Oh, and the bread is a must!
Look out for their new site opening in Soho December 2019.
London Bridge & Shoreditch
Some might argue that Padella was the restaurant that put fresh pasta on the London map. With its iconic glass window acting as a lens into the goings on of the restaurant, there’s something rather exciting about simply strolling past in the hope of catching a glimpse of chefs making that day’s fresh offering. Now you have been warned, if you head there at peak times (evenings, lunchtimes or weekends), you will have to wait for a table. However, if you’re willing to queue then trust us on this one, their cacio e pepe is so worth it.
Taking a trip to Borough Market? Make sure you check out our ultimate foodie guide first.
Padella’s older relative Trullo is a much-loved Islington institution, and it’s easy to see why. The restaurant’s no-frills approach to food involves fresh, gorgeous pasta, rustic in appearance although totally indulgent. It’s a little classy – expect white tablecloths – yet the cosy, candle-lit surroundings permit diners to let their hair down. The menu changes daily, however the signature pappardelle with beef shin ragu is an inspired choice, as is the knockout ravioli. The menu encourages you to have pasta as a primi before one of their charcoal-grilled main courses. Trullo is a fail-safe option with parents, pals or partners, and it’s a place where simple things are done well.
Grab the gang, this buzzy trattoria is the new place to head to in a crowd of friends for a lively night out. Minimalism isn’t on the menu at this vivacious hotspot, which has become an Instagram sensation known for it’s cheesy wheel of carbonara and old-school boujee interiors. Praises must be sung for their impressive 10-layer lasagne however we wouldn’t discourage flirting with the pizzas also on offer (the black truffle pizza would be our top pick). Also, make sure that you don’t overlook the sensational cocktail menu, which features some exciting concoctions ranging from coladas to pisco sours.
Or, visit Gloria’s sister restaurant Circolo Popolare in Bloomsbury
For a slightly more informal affair, head to Carnaby Street’s popular haunt Pastaio for sharing bench dining and cosy comfort classics such as spaghetti in the form of carbonara or vongole. As with most spots in Soho, reservations are a no-go but don’t let that deter you; their queueing system is slick and service is speedy. The perfect spot to head to for last-minute catch-ups or spur-of-the-moment outings.
Lina Stores is an Italian delicatessen of the highest order and a quaint spot for a cosy catch up. Their pastel green and white awning sits iconically on Soho’s Greek Street and what lies in store is no-frills, fine Italian food. Before you scarper ahead to the pasta menu, do make sure you check out their tempting selection of antipasti including a creamy stracciatella di bufala and sliced prosciutto for sharing. Washing it all down with a crisp aperitivi will make you feel like hopping on a flight to Italy, pronto.
For something with more of a neighbourhood vibe, venture north to Holloway Road’s hippest new pasta spot Berto. Using wholesome Italian ingredients to make their pasta fresh on site, Berto prides itself on serving up good quality, genuine Italian food. From a tagliatelle with slow cooked beef shin ragù to a strozzapreti perfect for those with a palate for sardines, you really can’t go wrong. Aesthetics are also on the pleasing side as each dish comes beautifully presented on hand-crafted Umbrian pottery that, at the risk of sounding shallow, looks great on the ‘Gram.
Say ciao to Forza Win’s straight-up Italian food served in a hip industrial space, a million miles away from your old-school family-run Italian trattoria. This should not deter you from what Forza Win has to offer, because it’s certainly worth the journey to Peckham. Their revolving menu of rigatoni, spaghetti and pappardelle – at an eye-popping £9 a plate – means you’re encouraged to splurge on other Italian foodstuff such as pigs ears with lemon and parsley or breadsticks and aioli. With the prices being cheap and cheerful, you’d expect ingredients to be on the lower end of the quality scale, but this simply just isn’t the case. With an array of plush ingredients, paired with an ample glass of red, this place has comfort food down.
Flour and Grape
Do smaller plates bother you? Venture into many of London’s many pasta hotspots and you’ll likely be faced with smaller portions of pasta dishes, designed for ordering in multiples. Some people love that mix-and-match menu system but if you’re not one for sharing, this buzzy pasta and wine bar nestled in the heart of Bermondsey ensures portion sizes are of the heartier variety. Conveniently located a short walk away from Borough Market’s Padella, Flour & Grape is an ideal alternative if you’re not in the mood for queuing. Their pasta selection is vast and the wine list boasts options from almost every inch of Italy.
If you’d prefer some homemade pasta, make sure to check out our popular pasta recipes.