From Michelin-starred spaghetti dishes to piles of steaming rustic ravioli, London’s pasta scene is buzzing right now. Whether you’re looking for a quick solo pitstop at a bar, or you’re in the mood for some seriously indulgent Italian lunching, London has the perfect bowl of pasta for you to channel your inner Sophia Loren.
Handmade by highly skilled pasta chefs and dressed with beautifully paired sauces, our pick of the best pasta restaurants in town will have you carb loading all day every day, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
We’re calling it: Padella rules the roost for pasta restaurants in London. So much so that we don’t even mind that it’s no reservations. Queuing up outside Borough Market for a plate of the insanely amazing Cacio e Pepe (literally translated as ‘cheese and pepper’ — it’s the new carbonara) seems almost too easy, and if you go in a group of no more than two or three, you shouldn’t be waiting too long.
The menu is short and frequently changes to reflect the seasons and whatever the centre-stage chefs fancy cooking, although star dishes like Pappardelle with Beef Shin Ragu tend to stay on. The best way to try it? Get a selection of small-ish plates to share. It’s the brainchild of the team behind Trullo (more on that later), so no wonder it’s good. Casual, quick and surprisingly cheap — dining at its best. Read our full review here.
Padella, 6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ.
Flour & Grape, Bermondsey
Bermondsey Street is quite a little hub of great restaurants and Flour & Grape (formerly Antico) is up there with the best, thanks to its perfect plates of pasta. Gratifyingly you can have small or large portions of the stuff and we’re not ashamed to say that we’ve regularly double-pasta’d by having one as a starter and one as a main.
The roasted pork shoulder tortelloni with sage butter makes an appearance frequently on the oft-changing menu, and should be ordered immediately. That said, we’ve never had a duff plate here. There are also some delicious aperitivo options (including that beloved Italian staple, the Aperol spritz) and a full-on gin bar underground.
Flour & Grape, 214 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
Caldesi serves homestyle Italian food 'like Mama used to make' in the heart of Marylebone. Indeed, the menu is inspired by owner Giancarlo’s memories of his own Mama’s cooking back in Tuscany, so hearty dishes like traditional lasagne, or homemade pappardelle with Tuscan beef ragu are not a surprise to see.
Choose between the more formal (and more expensive) upstairs restaurant or the ground floor café and enjoy incredible platters of antipasti followed by a primi of pasta. They helpfully signpost low-carb dishes on the menu (an unusual sight when it comes to carb-tastic pasta restaurants) and there’s also a cookery school attached, should you wish to learn the tricks of the trade.
Caldesi, 118 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2QF
Trullo, Highbury Corner
Capturing the true spirit of a proper Italian trattoria, Trullo on Highbury Corner is well worth a visit. The big Daddy behind Padella (above), the team here are thoroughly schooled in the authentic ways of Italian cooking, and their handmade pasta is just the start.
The menu changes daily and includes dishes like tagliarini with clams and nduja, or pappardelle with chicken livers, sage and marsala — there is often crossover with the Padella menu (which means even more Cacio e Pepe, hooray!). Do leave space for some of the other gems, which are always sparkling fresh and seasonal: we ate a phenomenal dish of aggretti and Amalfi lemon, plus a beautiful burrata and blood orange dish on our latest visit. It’s packed daily, so book.
Trullo, 300-302 St Paul’s Road, N1 2LH
Bocca di Lupo, Soho
Soho favourite Bocca di Lupo is a must-try for pasta lovers across town. They pride themselves on the super-regionality of their dishes and ingredients, with a fabulous wine list to match. Menus change twice daily, but there’s always a good selection of pasta and risotto, like spaghetti with wedge clams and garlic, or the intriguing rigatoni con pajata (milk fed calf's intestines braised with tomato) from Lazio.
Large plates of pasta might hurt the wallet, but order a couple of smaller portions to share, along with some side plates of fritto misto, and dinner here won’t break the bank.
Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB
Burro e Salvia, Shoreditch
This diminutive Italian-owned shop-slash-restaurant in Shoreditch boasts some of the more unusual and lesser-known pasta shapes, thanks to the sheer skill and creativity of their in-house pasta makers. Dine in at the on-site restaurant or take your freshly-made pasta away to cook and devour at home — the choice is yours.
If you're eating in, watch the ‘sfoglina’ (aka pasta maker) at work rolling batches of Piedmontese tajarin — a traditional, super fine version of tagliatelle — before gobbling it up at your table with its designated courgette, bottarga and mint dressing.
Burro e Salvia, 52 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP
Locanda Locatelli, Marylebone
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Giorgio Locatelli’s eponymously named restaurant just north of Oxford Street remains one of the most celebrated Italian restaurants in London. Strictly for special occasions, the Michelin-starred pasta at this tableclothed classic doesn’t come cheap but goodness gracious, it's delicious.
The daily changing menu throws up dishes such as malfatti parcels with potato, pepper and mind, and linguine laced with Cornish lobster and chilli. These will set you back around £20, and should you wish to make any pasta your main rather than primi then you’ll have to pay extra for the privilege. Let it be known, though, that the risotto with Sicilian red prawns and courgette flower is worth every penny, and the tiramisu is life-changing.
Locanda Locatelli, 8 Seymour Street, W1H 7JZ
This duo of semi-casual Italian themed restaurants is the more affordable version of Angela Hartnett’s Mayfair spot, Murano (complete with Michelin star). The pasta here is just as it should be, with a variety of interesting shapes and sizes, and hearty or delicate dishes to suit. Ingredients are rigorously sourced and we’re dribbling over the current spaghetti with anchovies and pangrattato as well as the lamb pappardelle with Pugliese olives and the classic bucatini Amatriciana. The three-course daily menu at £24 can be enjoyed over lunch, pre or post theatre and is a must-try.
Cafe Murano, 33 St James’ Street, SW1A 1HD and 36 Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PB
Lina Stores Delicatessen and Restaurant
Family-run Lina Stores has been serving Soho since the 1940s, when the area was a hub of Italian activity. Today, the incredible delicatessen of imported goodies like bottarga and nduja continues to be a must-visit for anyone looking to take home a slice of pure, home cooked pasta goodness. But we're here to tell you about what's being churned out of the newer restaurant.
That's right, just two streets over you can now be served a selection of classic pasta dishes fresh from the pan at their restaurant. Ravioli with minted courgette, little agnolotti with truffle and ricotta, 30-egg tagliolini smothered in butter and parmesan — the menu is small but perfectly formed. The same could be said of the restaurant itself so make sure to book in advance.