Sarto, Leeds: restaurant review
Try glossy mushroom marsala, unusual lamb and mint rigatoni and punchy negronis at this northern pasta spot
Looking for a place for lunch in Leeds? Read our review of pasta spot Sarto, or check out where to eat and drink in Leeds here.
Sarto in a nutshell
Foodies from two of the city’s local independents have teamed up to open this fresh pasta-focussed spot in central Leeds.
Dave Olejnik from popular brunch café Layne’s Espresso has joined forces with the folk behind local gourmet institution The Brunswick. Ian Chapman (aka Yanni) from The Brunswick takes the reins in the kitchen.
What’s the vibe?
Long wooden tables and benches, bright orange walls and floor-to-ceiling windows encourage a convivial canteen-style atmosphere, making Sarto a go-to lunch spot for city centre workers or families catching a matinee at next door’s newly renovated Leeds Playhouse theatre. A speckled quartz counter takes centre stage. Hop onto a stool and peer over hunks of parmesan, jars of gobstopper-sized olives and freshly baked sourdough loaves to watch Yanni and his team whip up plates of handmade pasta.
What’s the food like?
Inventive fresh pasta dishes rotate with the seasons. Mushroom marsala was the highlight on our visit – springy trompette, chestnut and baby oyster varieties tossed with marsala cream through folds of fettuccine. Glossy hollow worms of bucatini pasta provided a base for rich and peppery cacio e pepe sauce. Yanni’s unusual slow-cooker lamb rigatoni with chopped mint covered in a blanket of nutty Sheep Rustler cheese has had local chefs flocking to Sarto’s doors.
There is also a selection of appetisers. Already a favourite, pumpkin, sage and Cornish cheddar arancini sees one golden, crisp rice ball on a mound of smooth aioli. For dessert, portions of creamy tiramisu are cut from a large tray, or, for something a little more savoury, there’s English Pecorino drizzled with honey.
Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible – veg comes from a farm in Pudsey, while cheeses are kept British, with Sheep Rustler and English pecorino hailing from award-winning White Lake in Somerset.
And the drinks?
Beer drinkers have a choice between European stalwarts Birra Moretti and Amstel, or try the local North Brewing Co Triple Fruited Gose Sour. Negronis are short and punchy, just as they should be, and there’s a succinct Italian wine list heavily weighted towards Venetian and Sicilian varieties.
Keep an eye out for Sarto’s one-off tap takeover evenings with local breweries, pasta in full-flow (of course) and DJs on the decks.