World Pasta Day: The Best Places For Pasta In London

By Tessa Dunthorne

8 months ago

London is full of pasta-bilities


Pasta. You probably love it. Slathered in a homemade tomato sauce, bathed in a blue cheese sauce, stuffed to the brim with spinach and ricotta… Perhaps you’re more penne than you are rigatoni – and perhaps you’ve very strong opinions on whether gnocchi technically classes as a pasta dish (the Italians say no, but our hearts say yes). Given London has over 2000 Italian restaurants, there’s an overwhelming choice when it comes to picking out the perfect place for pasta in the capital. And that’s not even accounting for the plethora of farmers markets and artisanal shops sporting some of the gluten (or not!) good stuff. Let us help you sift through the noise to discover the best pasta in London. 

The Best Places To Eat Pasta In London

A Brief History Of Pasta

Cast back to around 400BC, and you have the earliest Italians – and potentially one of the earliest forms of pasta. The Etruscans were an ancient people living around what is now Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany who, apparently, had pretty great taste, making among the first form of our favourite dish with wheat and rice flour. How do we know this? Archeologists have in recent years discovered kitchen tools and utensils for cutting, rolling and forming testaroli, a triangle shaped pasta still enjoyed today.

But there’s a surprising twist in the history of pasta – though you may have come to know and love it as a product of Italy, further archeological evidence suggests that the very first version was actually created in China, during the Shang Dynasty, potentially as early as 1700BC. Across time, this early pasta slowly evolved into what we’d now call noodles.

Back in Italy, testaroli began to be popularised among the rich and landed. What was initially a food loved in the south, where you could grow durum wheat and make at home by hand, was a staple food for the upper classes by the Renaissance (which for Italy began in the 14th century). With the flourish in arts impacting how people approached cuisine, new shapes were in development. Dishes we still enjoy today, like linguine al pesto, came from this extraordinary time.

From there, it was only a matter of time until pasta became a dish popular across the entire world. The industrial revolution (18th-19th centuries) saw the factory production and mechanisation of the pasta making process – meaning it could be made more quickly and with far less expense, allowing it to proliferate across the globe. Nearly 16 million tons of pasta is created every year, enjoyed by millions.

What Are The Best Places For Pasta In London?

ATAVI Luxury Pasta

Atavi tagliatelle

Eat / Buy / Cook? Cook.

What are the pasta-bilities? Ship to your home direct – ditch the supermarket bags of processed wheat and dust.

What’s the vibe? Toblerone-tubed packets of pasta that will unfortunately ruin you for any other dried pasta. ATAVI is a new luxury pasta brand which has debuted a cute collection of three tagliatelle flavours (yes, dried pasta can be flavoured). C&TH’s Tessa is a particular fan of the smoked tagliatelle in a creamy carbonara loaded with lardons, but the sourdough and umami leave much room for inventive home-cooking, too. atavi.uk

Lina Stores Clapham

Lina Stores Clapham

Eat / Buy / Cook? Eat.

What are the pasta-bilities? Primi plates of pasta that can (and should) be shared tapas style.

What’s the vibe? The latest open from the crowd-favourite Lina Stores is opened right off the Common in Clapham, with cute covered outdoor seating lining the pavements and a green-tiled interior that transport you straight to the Mediterranean. Each plate of the carby good stuff at this café-style space is sort of like a hug, and a hug starting at a reasonable £8 a pop. The menu champions comfort dishes above all – tuck into a hearty and oh-so-rich-and-herby lamb sausage ragù and pappardelle, or opt for La Dolce Vita with the sunny Amalfi lemon and crab linguine. It’s worth sticking around for a drink after, too, as the bar team make five killer variants on a negroni. As a final note – Lina Stores Clapham is also a brilliant date spot, with its low-hanging lights and French café style curtains; I spied at least four first dates across the sprawl of its two floors. linastores.co.uk

Officina 00 Fitzrovia

Pasta at Officina 00 Fitzrovia

Eat / Buy / Cook? Eat.

What are the pasta-bilities? Surprisingly, Japanese-Italian fusion. But, in general, brilliant and traditional pasta.

What’s the vibe? Think industrial chic surroundings, and an open kitchen where you can watch the magic happen – and it truly is magical. Officina 00 prides itself on making artisanal plates of pasta from traditional Italian recipes. But there’s a twist at the Fitzrovia site – they’re not afraid to break the mold on occasion to subvert your expectations. Our pick? The cod ravioli with an amazing smear of miso sauce, which is a little bit mind-blowing, with the surprise fusion of cultural cuisine. It’s hearty, beautifully plated, and perfectly hits the nail on the head with its umami. officina00.co.uk

Eataly

Eat / Buy / Cook? Buy. (And eat).

What are the pasta-bilities? Buy it to bring home, eat it at the restaurant, explore the history of it – endless. It’s the best for sheer enormity of authentic, quality options.

What’s the vibe? More theme park than themed store, Eataly is your one stop shop for pasta munching in London. For the at-home stuff, you’ve got a veritable cornucopia of beautifully authentic dried and fresh goods to pick from – and the sauces to accompany it, plus real Italian goodies galore. And if you get peckish, exploring the many, many glorious aisles, there’s also a range of eat-in options. From a pasta stall and terrace restaurant for casual fare, to a more serious indoor eatery and dessert bar, you’re very well catered for. C&TH’s Olivia Emily decrees it ‘a genuine day out’. eataly.co.uk

Pasta Academy at Pasta Evangelists

Making Cannelloni at Pasta Academy

Eat / Buy / Cook? Cook.

What are the pasta-bilities? Endless (‘give a man a fish’ and all that). You’ll learn how to make fresh egg pasta, while picking up techniques from the best in the pasta-making ‘biz.

What’s the vibe? Expect to roll up your sleeves, don a lovely linen apron – and get stuck in. Obviously, no Italian cookery session can be had without an aperitivo in hand, and all the classes are bottomless prosecco, or in conjunction with a cool drinks brand for special cocktails. Following a tipple, you’ll learn how to make three shapes of pasta which will then be enjoyed with a gorgeous fresh sauce and a healthy dose of parmesan. You might also make friends with a shared interest there (everything pasta).

Read the full Pasta Academy review here

Barnes Farmers’ Market

Eat / Buy / Cook? Buy.

What are the pasta-bilities? Up the game with your fresh pasta purchase at a small, tucked away farmers’ market.

What’s the vibe? The cutest farmers’ market in South West London (and, according to Hello Fresh, the absolute best ranked in the country), the Barnes farmers’ market is open every Saturday. Here’s the inside scoop on it: the pasta stall is easily among the best artisanal fresh pasta to buy in London. The rest of the market has an impressive selection of organic veg, too, so pair with some pungent garlic and squidgy-ripe tomatoes for the ultimate primi piatti. barnesfarmersmarket.co.uk

Sparrow Italia

Sparrow italia Mayfair

Eat / Buy / Cook? Eat.

What are the pasta-bilities? High drama pasta accompanied by musical performances in an ultra-luxe space.

What’s the vibe? The restaurant is an import from LA, where it’s the local fave of film stars and VIPs alike. So it’s no wonder everything about Sparrow Mayfair is drama – oozing sex appeal, the space is dimly lit with the kind of ambiance you expect from the silver screen – and its menu is no different, delivering massive bang for buck. Think a lobster linguine for two, soaked in the red stuff, or creamy, buttery cacio e pepe. The pasta itself is a delight, with the thickest spaghetti noodles you’ve ever seen, and each bite is of a perfect handmade creation.

Read the full Sparrow Mayfair review here

Padella

Eat / Buy / Cook? Eat.

What are the pasta-bilities? A not-so-secret spot for solid pasta that won’t break the bank.

What’s the vibe? Expect to queue at Padella, which has a shop in both London Bridge and Shoreditch, because this pasta store is a foodie-favourite for Londoners. It’s worth queueing, though, as Padella is a mouthwatering delight for fans of the carby stuff – with a fresh, daily menu, you’re spoiled for choice. Maybe you’ll opt for fettucine with pistachio, basil and mint pesto, or maybe you’ll plump for the eight-hour simmered beef ragu and parpadelle. Either way you’ll want to finish with the Tiramisu. Plus, they’re currently running an offer of £2 negronis with every pasta dish in the Shoreditch branch, so it’s not one to miss.

Featured Image: Eataly