Italian cuisine and freshly made pasta have come hand in hand since the beginning of time, and since Italian cuisine is so popular in the UK, it may come as no surprise that there are hundreds of great pasta dishes to be eaten all over the capital city.
From the cheap and cheerful pasta restaurant revolution, to the more luxury and expensive places offering up pasta to be enjoyed for special occasions or days when you feel like splashing out, there really are pasta dishes for everyone to enjoy.
It would probably take a while for you to go around all the good Italian restaurants in London and try all the pasta dishes to decide the best ones, so we’ve put together a list for you. All you have to do is give it a read and then take your pick.
What: Agnolotti verdi, black truffle and ricotta
Why: With an unmissable green and white colour scheme, the iconic Lina Stores is the place to be for intimate dinners when you’re on a bit of a budget. Staff recommend you order three dishes for two diners which is ideal if you want to try a range of items from the menu. The Agnolotti verdi is a must try but other dishes worth noting are the crab spaghetti, ricotta gnudi with sage and brown butter and pappardelle with slow cooked veal ragu, rosemary and sage.
How much: £14
Where: 51 Greek Street, W1D 4EH
What: Spaghetti with red prawns, chilli, tomato
Why: Another to add to the list of cheap and fun pasta places, Pastaio’s communal tables and laid back atmosphere are just a part of why it's such a hit in Soho. As with the previous restaurants on the list, everything is under £20. Go for the spaghetti with red prawns and tomatoes if you fancy indulging a little, but other great dishes include the carbonara bucatini and the mozzarella ravioli.
How much: £12.50
Where: 19 Ganton Street, W1F 9BN
What: Scarpetta spaghetti
Why: Pasta may be best known as a comforting and homey dish, but sometimes it’s fun to enjoy it in plush surrounds. At the chic Sette restaurant (a New York import of the Scarpetta group), you’ll find that the signature Scarpetta spaghetti is the star of the show. Deceptively simple, the pasta is served al dente in a rich tomato sauce and it’s worth savouring every bite.
How much: £18
Where: 4 Knightsbridge Green, SW1X 7QA
What: Tortelli, pumpkin, amaretti and sage
Why: Angela Hartnett’s, Café Murano is the ‘it’ restaurant of the moment and with pasta dishes this good, we can see why. The tortelli with pumpkin and sage is definitely worth a try. On the days when you don’t fancy a pasta dish, the chicken Milanese, risotto and venison are worth a try too.
How much: From £11
Where: 33 St James Street, SW1A 1HD
What: Tajarin with raw duck egg and Parmesan
Why: When you’re about to go to the theatre, sometimes all you really want is a dish that is great and feels special, but can be eaten quickly. Pasta is the ideal thing for this and as Bocca di Lupo is located in the theatre district, it makes sense to give it a visit before you head to your show. Try the tajarin with raw duck egg and Parmesan, and ask for a shaving of white truffle on top to bring it up a notch. Other dishes you could try are the tagliatelle with ragu Bolognese or the pumpkin and amaretti cappellacci with butter and sage.
How much: £12
Where: 12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB
What: Spaghetti Arrabbiata
Why: Although this dish is simple and to some, may seem a bit boring, Italian cuisine thrives off a few simple ingredients, so sometimes keeping things pared back is just what a pasta dish needs. Bocconcino’s spaghetti arrabiata is a must try along with the ravioli zucchini e ricotta and tagliolini with porcini mushrooms and stracciatella cheese. Following the motto of ‘excellent quality ingredients, honest cooking and first class service’ you can guarantee a great pasta dish as Bocconcino’s.
How much: Part of a set menu
Where: 19 Berkeley Street, W1J 8ED
What: Bucatini with brown shrimp and seaweed butter
Why: Translating to ‘bar’ or ‘counter’ in Italian, Bancone has three different dining bars you can sit at to watch the chefs work while they cook up your dishes. Talk about dinner time entertainment. Its pasta is made fresh daily and with so many exciting dishes to try, you’ll find it difficult to pick just one. Thankfully we’ve done the hard bit. Give the bucatini with brown shrimp and seaweed butter a try. It may not be you’re first choice when ordering at an Italian restaurant, but given Bancone cooks up dishes from over 20 different regions in Italy, why not expand your horizons and try something new.
How much: £11.50
Where: 39 William IV Street, WC2N 4DD
What: La Gran Carbonara for two
Why: This 70s inspired trattoria in Shoreditch not only does great pasta dishes, but the over the top décor transports you back into the 70s in the best way possible. From loud and kitschy carpet to old school drapes it somehow manages to make dated décor look cool. Aeshetics aside however, the food is spectacular at Gloria. The carbonara is best for two people and cooked the traditional Italian way with egg, parmesan and served in a wheel of cheese of course. Other dishes worth noting are the pappardelle with sautéed chicken livers and the potato gnocchi with semi-dried tomato.
How much: £16 per person
Where: 54-56 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3QR
What: Gnocchi with nutmeg butter
Why: As the original cheap and cheerful pasta restaurant, Padella’s freshly made pasta attracts flocks of people daily. The best part is every dish is under £20. We recommend going for the buttery gnocchi but other dishes that are worth a try include the pappardelle with beef shin ragu, ravioli with squash, ricotta, sage and olive oil, and of course the famous cacio e pepe. If you’re planning on paying Padella a visit get there early because there is always queues.
How much: £4
Where: 6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ
What: Gnocchi Tricolore
Why: As the quirky sister restaurant of Gloria (mentioned above), Circolo Popolare's great authentic Italian dishes aren’t the only thing you’ll want to visit for. The stunning décor and quirky cocktails alone are worth a trip. Pasta-wise, go for the gnocchi tricolore – a big piece of gnocchi filled with ricotta, San Marzano sauce and topped with pecorino and parmigiano. Other dishes worth noting are the great open lasagne and mafaldine al tartufo.
How much: £12
Where: 40-41 Rathbone Place, W1T 1HX
What: Tonnarelli cacio and pepe
Why: Residing on Burlington Gardens in Mayfair, this modern Italian restaurant screams luxury and elegance. With dark wood finishings, velvet chesterfields and white table cloths, this is a special occasion restaurant. Since it’s an Italian restaurant and the pasta is made fresh daily, it would be silly not to order some. We suggest you keep things classic and go for the tonnarelli cacio and pepe because you can’t beat a cheesy pasta dish, but other dishes that also definitely worth a try include veal cannelloni and crab ravioli.
How much: £17
Where: 5A Burlington Gardens, W1S 3EP
What: Tagliatelle al Pomodoro
Why: This Michelin-starred restaurant is a must visit for any foodie. Specialising in Italian cuisine and having trained a number of celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, it is safe to say they may be one of the best restaurants in the City. Using the highest quality ingredients and complex cooking methods, the tagliatelle al Pomodoro may be a simple pasta choice to go for, but made with fresh pasta and cooked by expert chefs, it may be the tastiest pasta dish on this list. Other dishes worth mentioning at The River Cafe include the tagliatelle al ragu and linguine con Granchio.
How much: £20
Where: Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA
Can’t get enough of Italian food? Check out our list of the best Italian restaurants in London.