In 2016 London reached a spaghetti junction in its relationship with pasta. Restaurant Padella opened in Borough Market and queues started to snake outside for its simple, affordable pasta small plates. Since then London's become a city of pasta-fiends, lusting after linguine and Instagramming anelli. More and more hip Italian restaurants have opened across the capital serving up stylish, saucy, cheesy and downright-delicious strands of dough. Meanwhile Londoners have started wising up on the more unusual pasta shapes. We're stocking up on perfect fresh pasta from delis like Lina Stores and are racing to pasta-making classes across the city. It was when Gloria – the most made-for-Instagram trattoria you'll ever see – opened in Shoreditch just a few weeks ago that we knew we'd reached peak pasta. The spot serves up double-portion carbonara from a giant cheese wheel as well as oozing slabs of ten-layer lasagne. And that's just the start: here are 11 London experiences that pasta-obsessives shouldn't miss. Pasta la vista baby!
Places to eat pasta in London
This legend’s note-perfect, well-priced pastas are as raved-about now as they were the week it opened. Like tripping over massive suitcases on the tube at rush hour, standing in the ever-present queue is an irritating fact of London life. But there are things you can do to make it less of a drag. Get there very early (11am on a Sunday), very late (9pm on a Monday) or – like one hero Time Out spotted – bring a folding chair. Once you’re inside go classic with pappardelle and beef shin ragù.
There’s nothing subtle about east London’s most hyped new trattoria. The ceiling’s mirrored, the piña coladas get set alight and there’s a sausage pizza on the menu called the Youporn. For a gravity-defying dinner, order the high-rise lasagne: ten layers of toothsome fresh pasta, meaty ragù, aubergine and melting mozzarella. Fill what remains of your boots with a slice of the towering lemon pie, with a six-inch (stop it) meringue topping.
Its atmospheric new restaurant might be getting all the attention these days, but the original Lina Stores’ deli is still hard to beat. Opened in 1944, the pastel-painted Brewer Street shop is stuffed to the rafters with the best pasta this side of the Dolomites. Browse the whole wall of superior dried stuff (Lina stocks the cheffy Rummo brand) or park up next to the homemade fresh-pasta counter and feast on ravioli with a choice of lip‑smacking fillings.
Imagine forking into ribbons of perfectly tender fettuccine that have been swirled inside a huge, hollowed-out grana padano cheese wheel before being served to you with a flourish (and bacon bits). Well, as luck would have it, you don’t need to imagine – you can get your mitts on a bowl of the stuff this very weekend, thanks to the Cheese Wheel. The stall douses fresh pasta in a creamy alfredo sauce before taking it for a trip around the inside of the 40kg beast it takes its name from. What’s not to love?
Fancy becoming a pasta maestro, but not sure where to start? Roll up your sleeves and head to this tiny Italian-owned café-deli in Shoreditch. Burro e Salvia (it means ‘butter and sage’ – yum) runs classes, during which its team of sfogline (‘sheet-makers’) share their know-how. You can learn how to make your own fresh egg-and-flour pasta from scratch, before turning it into everything from lasagne to farfalle (bows) and mezzelune (filled half-moons). At the end you get to take your creation home, or the chefs will cook it up in the kitchen for you.
Pasta for your starter and your main? Peckham’s premier purveyor actively encourages it. There’s always a choice of two different ones, and they’re always available in little and large sizes, so you could start with mushroom tortellini in a deeply savoury porcini broth then move on to a jumbo portion of perfectly chewy bucatini with confit cherry tomatoes and wild garlic. Heads up: the Italian Sunday lunch deal (three substantial courses for just £20) is a proper steal.
Forget cardboardy lasagne sheets and gritty fusilli – the future of gluten-free pasta is here, and it’s every bit as delicious as the wheaty OG. The vast majority of this bustling Bermondsey joint’s dishes can be made with gluten-free penne on request; and sauce-wise, the sky’s the limit. Whether you’re in the mood for slow-cooked beef-shin ragù or a fancy preserved truffle and butter emulsion, it’s got you covered. Don’t forget to check out F&G’s wine-pairing videos before you order.
Dinner at this waterside Italian isn’t just a chance to scoff some of the city’s most skilfully made pasta, it’s a (delicious) science lesson. The clever bods behind Emilia’s Crafted Pasta have spent years working out exactly which pasta goes best with which sauce. So their bolognese is paired with wide silky ribbons of fresh egg pappardelle, while their carbonara (made in the northern Italian style, using the whole egg) is complemented by the rougher texture of dried semolina pasta. Sit back and let the staff guide you – they seriously know their stuff.
From 2016 to 2018 there was only one pasta dish in town worth going out of your way to photograph: the pici cacio e pepe at Padella (see No 1). Then along came Bancone – opening quietly on the fringes of Covent Garden last year – with its ‘silk handkerchiefs’. The delicate rectangles (call them fazzoletti if you’re feeling fancy) are dressed with walnut butter and topped with a gorgeously golden confit egg yolk. It’s officially the restaurant’s most ’Grammed dish. And, unofficially, it’s got to be one of London’s too.
Freshly hand-rolled at the start of every service, the pasta at this low-lit Shoreditch spot is seriously sexy (think crab taglierini or pork-cheek agnolotti with porcini butter) and everything is made for sharing. Bag two stools at the window bar overlooking Rivington Street and get ready to re-enact Disney’s most famous romantic (dogs’) dinner scene; unless you order the ravioli – in which case, it’s going to be more like the suck-and-blow beer mat game, sorry.