Pastaio London

Pastaio. It means pasta-maker in Italian and making pasta is exactly what they do here. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the whole time pronouncing it wrong when people ask you where you’re going for dinner that week.

It’s a no-bookings style restaurant which serves up plates of handmade pasta with powerful sauces. It’s located just off Carnaby Street in Soho, with a huge large glass front plus a bright, Insta-friendly art mural along the back wall. It comes complete with an open kitchen where you can watch the Pastaio’s at work and rows of communal tables.

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Their starters are pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook them. We opted for the burrata which was served swimming in olive oil and had chilli and oregano sprinkled over it.

As their burrata is incredibly creamy, if not a little too juicy, you’ll need to grab yourself a side of their sourdough bread to help you mop up all that cheesy goodness.

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The main event: the crab, chilli, agretti, black & white spaghetti, and now that spring is just around the corner, this is the type of food I long for. It packs a punch and the crab does well to hold it’s own.

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Their slow-cooked sausage malloredus keeps the standards high and it’s a brilliant vehicle for another great sauce. It’s a dish comprised of small, striped shells of pasta and the sausage sauce is topped with crust crumbs from the bread – which really cuts through the richness.

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To help wash all the carbs down, we ordered the prosecco slushies. Their blood orange one giving me flash blacks to wandering Milan from bar to bar drinking Aperol Spritz.

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Would I go back? Most definitely – although I can’t help but feeling that I’m cheating on Padella.

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Pastaio, 19 Ganton St, Carnaby, London W1F 9BN

*Main photo courtesy of Pastaio 

 

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Monmouth Kitchen

Covert Garden is a hotbed for tourists, and most of the time it’s a no-go area for me as I’m someone who rolls her eyes when people stand on the wrong side of the escalator. But I was enticed to the area by Monmouth Kitchen, who were offering 50% off food during their soft launch. The restaurant is located in the heart of the Seven Dials and serves Italian and Peruvian-inspired small plates. I’ve never tasted Peruvian cuisine, so I was excited to see what was on offer.

It’s happened to all of us when we have had our hopes so high for a restaurant, just for them to be knocked down as soon as you walk through the door. Our table wasn’t ready when we arrived at 9pm, and Scott and I quickly exchange an eyebrow raise of ‘but it’s way past peak dining time, how are you not ready for us?’ – so were quickly seated in their bar area. The restaurant was very sleek everything was white or black and all the table tops were marbled. Once seated I ordered the only Rosé on the menu, and I was immediately disappointed, I found it too tart for my taste buds.

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We were taken over to our table in the main dinning room only to be greeted by a DJ, so the only way Scott and I could commute to each other or the service staff was by shouting at each other. Our waitress explained the menu perfectly to us and we order a range of bites and nibbles. In total we were served by a least 10 different people and I would so much prefer less people at the table.

Now eating here doesn’t come cheap and the portions are small. We ordered some of the chicken tacos and our waitresses warned us that they were mini, but they were the size of a 2p piece. All I could taste was spice which completely downed all of the other flavours – a real shame. The only bright side of the dish that they they weren’t a mess to eat like normal tacos.

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Our next dish was the mushroom and ricotta ravioli which was served with a sage butter. It was lovely, however we only had one raviolo each – I wouldn’t suggest ordering this dish if there’s more than two of you wanting to eat it.

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I love Pardon Peppers and I have them quite a lot at home as a simple starter, so I thought this dish was ridiculously over priced for what they offered. Unfortunately they were under-cooked and quite chewy.

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Next came the King Prawns, which were served butterflied with the shell on. I felt like it’s the type of place where people would judge you if you used your fingers instead of your knife and fork, so this dish just didn’t work for this restaurant.

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We were then brought the Chicken Lollipops, and so I had to use my fingers to eat these and I was past caring what my fellow diners thought of me. What annoyed me about this dish was that it wasn’t easy to spilt between two. Again, I thought this were overpriced for what is just flamboyant chicken wings.

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Our last dish was the Calamari – which they had completely forgotten about and had to remind twice to bring. Now, you can’t go wrong with deep fried food and this dish was pretty tasty and we were brought a decent portion size.

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We decided not to stick around for dessert as the food  we had so far was a not of good enough quality to charge the prices asked. The type of food served here is appropriate for a bar or standing dinner, but it’s just not right for a sit down dinner.

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Monmouth Kitchen, Radisson Blu Edwardian, Mercer Street, 20 Mercer St, London WC2H 9HD

 

 

 

Yard Sale Pizza | Finsbury Park

I’m always keeping my eye out for new restaurant openings and recommendations in North London, and for a while now I’ve been hearing good things about Yard Sale Pizza. They’ve recently opened a second branch in Finsbury Park and with it being so close to home, I had no excuse not to try it out with a couple of my girlfriends.

It’s got a couple of tables and benches, but it’s really not much more than a takeaway shop yet it’s a complete hive of activity. We nabbed a table at the back and quickly ordered from the 6 or so options – a classic margherita, the squash (butternut squash, goats cheese, rocket and a drizzle of honey), and the TSB (tender stem broccoli, manchego, pine nuts and garlic).

Their bases are crisp and perfect and I adored their cheese to tomato ratio. You don’t get cutlery at Yard Sale pizza just a board and pizza wheel. I’m a firm believer that you have to have dips with your pizza (and we can all thank Domino’s for this). I had their garlic and herb dip, which was thick and creamy and didn’t overpower the pizza. I promise you, I did try and save some for breakfast… but it was too delicious.

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Yard Sale Pizza, 54 Blackstock Rd, London N4 2DW

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A London Favourite | Enoteca Super Tuscan

Mozzarella, artichokes, olives and fresh basil are some of my favourite ingredients to cook with, so it’s no surprise I’m a lover of Italian food. I love the variety, the taste, and of course, the simplicity of it all.

Enoteca Super Tuscan is a gorgeous Italian wine bar down a tiny side street just south of Spitalfields Market, blink and you’ll have missed it. I met my mum and sister here one day after work and by 7 o’clock it was packed.

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They’re got a huge selection of wines which is complimented with an ever-changing specials board – which is completely ingredient-led.  We started with a vegetation antipasta; a selection of cannellini beans, artichoke hearts, olives, mozzarella, peppers and green beans – proving that sometimes meat isn’t needed.

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The name of the next dish has completely slipped my mind, but it was basically cheese wrapped in ham, but it was so much better then cheese wrapped in ham. It was served on a bed of rocket with grilled courgettes and sun-dried tomatoes. The cheese melted in your mouth and wasn’t stringy from being baked and was beautifully complement by the saltines of the ham.

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For mains each of us ordered from the specials board, my mum went for the Seabass which was so tender and my sister had the Gnocchi which was served in a rich, creamy sauce. I went for the Pea and Mint Tortellini – it was so good I was scrapping the plate for every last morsel. All of our food was washed down with their house white which was smooth and crisp, and worked well with all the flavour combinations.

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A meal with my family wouldn’t be complete without dessert and a digestif. The Panna Cotta went down a real treat, it was perfectly set and a great end to a fantastic meal.

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I swear it’s some of the best Italian food I’ve had in London (second to the River Café), and I’m already eager to go back.

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Enoteca Super Tuscan, 8A Artillery Ln, Artillery Passage, London E1 7LJ