Where to find London’s Best Pasta Restaurants
If our name didn’t give it away, here at Pasta Evangelists we’re, well, evangelical about all things pasta. And as our small team of pasta aficionados calls London home, we wanted to let you in on some insider knowledge. We’d be lying if we said we only indulged our own pasta – of course, like all self-respecting sfogline we think ours pasta is the best in town – but that’s not to say we don’t seek out inspiration from some of London’s other pasta purveyors.
So we’ve been on a mighty mission across all four corners of the capital, from Camden to Chiswick, Soho to Shepherd’s Bush, in search of London’s best pasta. And as we’re puritanical about the finest, freshest pasta, you will only find the best, most ferociously independent eateries on our list – after all, great pasta, as all Italians will testify, comes from the soul.
So without further ado, here it is, from us to you: the best places to eat pasta in London – all ten of them, in fact. Buon appetito.
1. Padella, London Bridge
Transport: London Bridge Underground, Jubilee Line | Map
Initially conceived as the little sister of Islington’s acclaimed Trullo, Padella opened its doors in 2016, quickly establishing itself as a firm favourite of London’s pasta pleasure seekers and the city’s Italian population.
Serving a short pasta menu of innovative dishes such as fettucine with mascarpone and the spicy Calabrian sausage ‘nduja, as well as comforting classics like gnocchi in nutmeg butter, this little London Bridge pasta restaurant helped to raise the bar for pastai (pasta chefs) across London.
But before visiting Padella, there’s one thing to know: just like its fresh, hand-crafted pasta, the restaurant’s long, winding queue has become famous – or infamous – in its own right. At its busiest, expect to wait for up to an hour for a table at this bustling London pasta destination.
Insider tip: beat the queue by enjoying our Pappardelle with Slow-Cooked Beef Shin Ragù in the comfort of your home.
2. Lina Stores,
Transport: Oxford Circus, Central & Victoria Lines; Tottenham Court Road, Central & Northern Lines; Piccadilly Circus, Piccadilly Line | Map
Lina Stores has the unusual distinction of being one of London’s oldest pasta shops, opening its doors to Londoners in 1944, during some of the last days of the Second World War. This in itself is curious: Italy had fought alongside Nazi Germany for the previous four years and anti-Italian sentiment in the United Kingdom was not unheard of. Indeed, the British government even mandated that Italian nationals be sent to internment camps on the Isle of Man.
Despite the remarkable timing of its opening – itself an achievement, and testament the wonderful allure of fresh pasta – Brewer Street’s Lina Stores has since been the destination delicatessen for fresh pasta in Soho for the last 75 years.
In 2018, the Lina Stores famiglia went a step further, opening an acclaimed pasta restaurant on Greek Street, in the heart of London’s Soho. Serving freshly handmade pasta dishes including pumpkin-filled ravioli and spaghetti with Dorset crab, these classic dishes draw adulating foodies from across the capital. Lina Stores reviews from the likes of TimeOut and London’s Evening Standard were less enlivened, however: both gave the restaurant an average-sounding three stars. We’ll leave it up to you.
Insider tip: if the idea of busy Soho makes you shudder, try our beautiful tortelloni di zucca – pumpkin tortelloni – where we include similar ingredients (including beautiful Piemontese hazelnuts) as Lina Stores chefs scatter liberally over their pumpkin ravioli plates.
3. Pastaio, Carnaby
Transport: Oxford Circus, Central & Victoria Lines; Piccadilly Circus, Piccadilly Line | Map
Situated on Soho’s Ganton Street, just off Carnaby Street, Pastaio is a relative newcomer to the pasta party, setting up shop in the shadow of big name neighbours like Regent Street’s Liberty department store and see-and-be-seen-at Dishoom on Kingly Street.
Defying its better-known neighbours, Pastaio – meaning ‘pasta chef’ in Italian – has made a name for itself serving simple pasta dishes using ‘’top notch British ingredients” including doppio zero pasta flour sourced in Kent.
Here at Pasta Evangelists, we particularly like Pastaio’s eye to the future: the menu of this little London pasta establishment has been innovative and modern since its launch, with fresh vegan pasta and gluten free available for those in-the-know.
With its bold, modern exterior and contemporary feel, Pastaio is determinedly breathing fresh air into London’s pasta scene, but it’s not for the faint of heart: most pasta dishes range from £11 to £12. Nevertheless, it’s authentic, fresh pasta in the heart of London’s iconic West End – and it may well just be worth a trip.
Insider tip: if the premium pasta price tag seems a little steep, take a stroll through the Harrods Food Hall (discussed next), where, despite its reputation for expensiveness, you can enjoy perfect pasta portions at a fraction of the price.
4. Harrods Food Hall, Knightsbridge
Transport: Knightsbridge, Piccadilly Line | Map
We should put our hands up, here, and declare a bit of a pasta conflict of interest. After all, we put our Pasta Evangelists name to the pasta concession found at the heart of the newly-refurbished Harrods Food Hall. But that’s not to say ours isn’t some of the best pasta you’ll find in London: it is. In fact, we’d wager our little Knightsbridge pasta restaurant is London’s finest.
A stroll along Kensington’s iconic Brompton Road will lead you, fortuitously, to the doors of Harrods, certainly London’s, if not the world’s, most famous department store. And since the much-anticipated relaunch of its Food Hall in 2018, fresh, artisan pasta has been central to its offering, with a team of Pasta Evangelists chefs creating and serving beautiful pasta dishes in the premises seven days a week.
With a kaleidoscope of colourful pasta shapes available and smiling pastai on hand to help, this is the destination of London’s most in-the-know pasta enthusiasts. Choose from a range including classic dishes such as freshly hand-crafted Pappardelle with Slow-Cooked Beef Shin Ragù to sumptuously heady Burrata and Black Truffle Ravioloni and jet black, squid ink-infused Lobster Tortelloni.
tip: For those residing in East London, the lengthy trip to our Knightsbridge
pasta restaurant might seem a little off-putting. Just as well you can order
the same dishes from our à la carte pasta menu for delivery to your door in London
and beyond. Buon appetito!
5. Luca, Clerkenwell
Transport: Farringdon, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Circle Lines | Map
Found on Clerkenwell’s St John Street with a façade bedaubed in deep, dark juniper, Luca is unassuming – but spectacular. This London restaurant, brainchild of the acclaimed team behind Shoreditch’s The Clove Club, marries seasonal British produce with Italian culinary techniques. And whilst it isn’t strictly a pasta restaurant, the few pasta dishes that frequent the Luca menu – such as a tangle of fresh spaghetti quadrati with brilliantly green pistachio pesto – are well worth visiting for. It’s worth noting that its wonderful gnocchi cacio e pepe seems to feature year-round, come rain or shine. For formaggio enthusiasts, this is rapture – served up as it is on a dainty earthenware plate.
The Pasta Evangelists team particularly liked Luca’s eye for style: this hit Italian restaurant, despite its limited pasta range, is thoughtfully decorated in wood with soft, muted lighting and sparing flourishes of white marble.
tip: for a wider fresh pasta menu, visit Pasta Evangelists at Harrods or order
for delivery from pastaevangelists.com. That’s not to say Luca’s pasta isn’t
good – it is – but there just isn’t much of it, and, sometimes – always –
variety is the spice of life when visiting London pasta restaurants.
6. Burro e Salvia, Shoreditch
Transport: Shoreditch High Street, London Overground; Liverpool Street, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Circle, Central Lines | Map
Burro e Salvia, found down an alley a stone’s throw from Shoreditch High Street Station, is foremost a pasta shop and delicatessen, selling a small range of fresh, hand-crafted pasta. And whilst it cannot boast the same longevity as the likes of Soho’s Lina Stores, its pasta is as good – if not better.
Stumble upon Burro e Salviaand you’ll find one or two sfogline (pasta artisans) busy at work behind the counter, rolling out dough and carefully crafting shapes like cardinali and cappellacci. We tried both, one filled with beautiful mortadella, the other cream of Parmigiano. Each pasta was expertly crafted, with a golden hue, but what Burro e Salvia makes up for in quality it lacks in variety and volume: it is not uncommon for this little pasta delicatessen to run out of stock, often rendering visits fruitless – or, rather, pasta-less. Having said that, the pasta-patient are handsomely rewarded when freshly-made stock is available: the quality of the pasta is certainly up there with London’s finest.
Visitors can also dine in at Burro e Salvia: it has a small pasta café to the right of the delicatessen counter. Be aware, though, that, for good or bad, this is uncomplicated, no-frills dining with a hefty price tag – some of the dishes cost as much as £14 and portions are modest.
Insider tip: find some of Burro e Salvia’s more unusual pasta shapes, such as ravioloni (a round-shaped variety of ravioli) on the Pasta Evangelists menu. You may also save more than a few pounds per portion!
7. River Café, Hammersmith
Transport: Hammersmith, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City Lines | Map
River Café is, undoubtedly, one of London’s institutions when it comes to pasta. Founders Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray envisaged a riverside space for uncomplicated, seasonal Italian food. This they have delivered for the past thirty years: the Hammersmith restaurant, with a beautiful and ever-changing pasta menu, earned a Michelin star in 1997 and has retained this ever since.
Like Luca, but situated on the other side of the capital, River Café is not strictly a pasta restaurant: indeed, it is an Italian restaurant, with a traditionally-styled menu following the many courses of dining in Italy, from antipasti and primi to larger secondi plates and, of course, dolci. Among its offered primi, however, feature some wonderful pasta dishes, changing often in line with the seasons. When we visited, the spaghetti with crab, fennel and lemon was at once both simple and yet richly evocative of the Italian seaside. The pasta, for its part, is exquisite: all pasta served at River Café is made on-site by a cadre of vibrant young chefs – both Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittenshall, have passed through its hallowed kitchens.
Insider tip: those seeking out an expansive pasta menu should probably rethink their choice; at any given time, River Café features a maximum of around two pasta dishes. For a wider view of Italy’s pasta repertoire, a trip to the nearby Pasta Evangelists concession in Harrods might bear more fruits.
8. The Cheese Wheel, Camden Market
Transport: Camden Town, Northern Line; Camden Road, London Overground | Map
Camden Market has, for many Londoners, began to feel a little passé: the exuberance of Hackney’s Broadway Market and the sheer strength of Borough Market, despite its tourist population, have relegated the little shops of Camden Lock to third place – but, importantly, not to the bottom of the capital’s market league.
Brilliant independent food stalls have been integral to this longevity (the market has existed in Camden Town in some forms since the early 20th century). Cheese Wheel, serving an utterly stripped back menu of fettucine alfredo with various toppings, is one such example. Its allure is simple but compelling, and it is called formaggio.
Urging you to accept ‘’no im-pastas’’, the team behind Cheese Wheel roll their tagliatelle by hand and invite London’s epicureans to ‘’ooh’’ and ‘’aah’’ as the pasta is spun through a giant wheel of Grana Padano cheese, giving the finished dish supreme unctuousness. It might be a world away from the fine dining pasta experiences of the likes of Luca or River Café, but what the Cheese Wheel lacks in finesse it makes up for in, well, utter deliciousness – and that is its charm.
Insider tip: visit this pasta stall in the early hours, ideally around 10am, when Camden Market is most quiet. As they say, the early bird catches the worm, or, in this case, a big, steaming bowl of cheesy tagliatelle. Trust us – this type of pasta is best enjoyed with a modicum of privacy.
9. Ida, Queen’s Park
Transport: Queen’s Park, Bakerloo Line; Kensal Rise, London Overground | Map
Nestled on a street corner of sleepy, residential Queen’s Park, Ida is one of London’s best-kept pasta secrets. Only the most savvy pasta enthusiasts know about this small outpost in North West London, promising fresh, handmade pasta rivalling, if not exceeding, the quality of its more glitzy – and metropolitan – competitors like Padella and Pastaio.
As with River Café, Ida adheres to the classic antipasti – primi – secondi – dolci format of Italian dining. Unlike its Hammersmith neighbour, however, Ida’s primi are almost exclusively pasta dishes, with six or seven types available at any given time. All pasta served on-site has, as we would expect, been crafted on-site; at this, Ida excels, capably overseen by husband and wife team Simonetta and Avi. Choose from beautiful, dainty gnocchi served with a beef and pork ragù (a speciality of Italy’s Le Marche) or indulge a doubly decadent “tagliatelle mix”, combining not one but two pasta dishes onto a single plate – or rather platter.
The flavours are fresh and fragrant and, unlike some of the other London pasta restaurants making this list, Ida has a sense of the anti-contemporary: in its décor it does not attempt to reinvent the wheel but, instead, celebrate the best of Italy, where simplicity, authenticity and big, bold flavours do the talking.
tip: Ida also has a small, on-site cinema. After devouring your pasta, recline
whilst enjoying a small production – perhaps with a glass of vino.
10. Pasta Evangelists, London
We feel we’d be doing our talented pastai a disservice if we were to exclude them from this roundup. And whilst our little pasta business might not be a restaurant, our ambition has always been to bring restaurant-quality pasta to you, wherever in London you might be.
When we launched the business in early 2016, we initially served our fresh, artisan pasta dishes to a small number of amici e famiglia in a pocket of London – Notting Hill, specifically. Today, our pasta dishes are available to purchase by anyone in the capital and, indeed, beyond.
We pride ourselves on using the freshest, most seasonal ingredients to prepare our sauces. Some are cooked for as long as six hours – many of our pappardelle dishes, served with sumptuous ragù, are a case in point – whilst others, like our beautiful pistachio pesto, rely not on lengthy or even elaborate preparation but, instead, a simple refusal to compromise on the quality of ingredients used.
That’s why, just as our pasta is freshly made in London every day with the finest Italian doppio zero flour, we source the best pistachios available anywhere from Sicily; why the beautiful crab included in our seafood tortelloni comes courtesy of the Devon coastline. At Pasta Evangelists, our ambition is to make restaurant-quality pasta dishes available to all – as this list hopefully shows, the variety, flavours and possibilities in pasta are utterly limitless.
On behalf of all of us, buon appetito.
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