Pastaio Soho restaurant review
We send Neil Simpson to check out one of Soho’s latest Italian restaurants.
You’ll be pleased to hear that a simple, delicious and affordable trend has swept through London’s dining scene over the last few years, which was probably started by a restaurant in London Bridge called Padella. It serves a small menu of expertly crafted Italian pasta dishes at shockingly low prices (well, low for London). You can’t book tables and the queue is always long, but I still recommend it. This trend has been picked up by others, including Lina Stores and Pastaio.
Pastaio is off Carnaby Street, so it’s a great option if you’re shopping or seeing a show at the Palladium. The dining room is small and colourful, with low lights in the evening to make it feel cosy. The menu at Pastaio is broader than Padella’s, ranging from a rigatoni with slow-cooked tomato sauce and Parmesan, to red prawn spaghetti or a big plate of six-hour beef shin to share. The menu is the work of Stevie Parle, one of London’s most reliable chefs and restaurateurs.
I ordered a salad to start, an interesting combination of pomegranate seeds, walnut chunks, lashings of golden, rich olive oil and sturdy, bitter Castelfranco leaves (£6). It was a classic start which went well with a simple glass of white wine; each wine at Pastaio is available by the glass, making it easy to try a few without spending a lot. We also ordered a deep-fried mozzarella sandwich (£5.50), which was delicious and large: with a glass of red wine, this could make a great light lunch or supper on its own.
The menu features a varied choice of pasta types: we selected conchigliette and tagliatelle. The conchigliette (£8) was more like a soup than a pasta dish because it was paired with crushed chickpeas, then flavoured with rosemary, olive oil and sage. Our wild mushroom tagliatelle (£11) was classic and satisfying, simply supported by garlic, olive oil and Parmesan.
This restaurant is not groundbreaking, crazy or daring but, because there are so many restaurants in London that fail to deliver high-quality, simple food for a reasonable price, Pastaio is a place to treasure. Our final word? Don’t miss a delectable slice of the pear, almond, hazelnut and thyme tart…
Prices correct at time of publishing
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