Read our expert review of Pastaio, a buzzy new Soho restaurant that’s all about handmade pasta.
Pastaio in a nutshell
Chef Stevie Parle’s latest venture brings handmade pasta and affordable wines to Soho.
Pastaio restaurant review
Pasta is having a moment in London. From Padella in Borough Market to Emilia’s Crafted Pasta in St Katherine Docks and Burro e Salvia in Shoreditch, the last few years has seen a crop of new openings that specialise in freshly made plates of the stuff – carb loading has never been so cool.
The latest addition to the pasta gang – and the newest outpost of ex-River Café chef Stevie Parle’s burgeoning restaurant empire, which also includes Rotorino, Palatino, Sardine, Dock Kitchen and Craft London – can be found in Soho.
Pastaio (meaning someone who makes pasta by hand) follows in the Italian-centric footsteps of Palatino and Rotorino but focusses chiefly on pasta, made fresh every day in the restaurant, a cavernous Tom Dixon-designed space on Ganton Street that’s all high ceilings and exposed fittings, with a huge, colourful mural (by Rob Lowe of Supermundane) that saves the room from feeling coldly industrial.
The menu is concise and seasonal, from tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, garlic and olive oil to cacio e pepe with bucatini and fusilli with crab, courgette, tomato and marjoram. It’s also affordably priced; you can order a pasta dish for as little as £6 (rigatoni with slow-cooked tomato sauce) and no main exceeds £11.
We started with a salad of Castelfranco (a type of radicchio lettuce), pecorino and pomegranate seeds; the salty cheese balancing well with the bitter leaf and sweet-sour fruit, while nutty Coombeshead Farm sourdough came with a peppery, grassy olive oil. A fried mozzarella sandwich reminded us of mozzarella en carrozza – a southern Italian take on a cheese toastie. In Pastaio’s version, spicy ’nduja and honey added pleasing notes of heat and sweetness to the milky cheese.
From the pasta section, malloreddus (tiny, ridged Sardinian gnocchi) came dressed with a slow-cooked sausage sauce that was elegantly light and flavourful, while agnoli stuffed with grouse, pork and rabbit was a deceptively simple dish that made good use of prime autumn produce.
Desserts were simple and classic; we tried canoli with orange, ricotta and saffron, and a lovely chocolate and cherry tart, the almost sour fruit pairing well with a tangy pool of yogurt on the side.
The drinks offering at Pastaio is short and affordable, ranging from prosecco and Aperol slushies to wines from lesser-known Italian growers, many priced by the glass. We tried a velvety, smoky refosco – a spot-on recommendation from our friendly, knowledgeable waiter.
Menu must-order at Pastaio
The agnoli was a triumph of pared-back cooking; perfectly cooked and crafted pasta, a generous game filling and a seriously moreish sage-butter sauce.
Misfire: Skip the canoli, which on our visit had a heavy, almost artificial-tasting orange flavour that overwhelmed everything else on the plate.
Price range: Good value. Antipasti start at £3, mains at £6 and desserts at £4.