★★★★ | Pasta Nostra, London
Excellent tasting homemade pasta and very very reasonable prices? It’s Pasta Nostra.
Only open for a couple of months, Pasta Nostra, located on a strip of Old Street between the station and Goswell Road, in an area that sorely needs good and good valued places to eat, is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
It’s not a very big restaurant (though in the summer there is a conveniently locatedoutdoor space right next door), but the food is big – taste, portion and enjoyment! I highly recommend the Orecchiette dish. The pasta, in the shape of a very small ear, is green in colour because it is basil pesto and green beans mixed with potato. It’s absolutely delicious, and at £8 for a reasonably nice-sized dish, is a starter-priced but main course fulfilment! The Pappardelle – 12-hour braised oxtail and tomatoes, is also absolutely delicious, with the ragu lamb amazingly tasty and tender, the pasta fresh fresh fresh, and not too cheesy parmesan – perfectly priced at £12.
The starters are also amazingly reasonably priced – so we decided to order three of them. The best of the three was the Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad. At £5, it was a steal as there was plenty of watermelon while the mint gave it a zing, and just enough Feta to not overpower the watermelon. Excellent! Also worthy was the selection (9 slices) of three different types of Salami, and served with a Salame Bun, which was different but very good – and all for a mere £5! My dining companion wanted to try the Suppli – and I am glad he did! It was a large ball of dough with nice a nice crust of crunchy bread crumbs and stuffed with mozzarella and tomato rice – also £5, and a great deal for a dish we had never heard of!
One can’t really eat ones way through a menu, but I wish I had the stomach and hunger for it because at Pasta Nostra there were other dishes we would’ve liked to have tried, including the Tortello Carbonara (with crispy cured pork cheek) and Bottonoini (filled pasta with mussels in a tomato sauce). I was very tempted to order the starter Gazpacho, but one of the ingredients was chilli, and the night we went was officially the UK’s hottest day ever, so I didn’t fancy eating anything spicy! But we did fancy dessert, and it was the Sicilian Cannolo(tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling). Yummy! One for £4 so I would recommend ordering two! Give the Tiramisu a miss – it’s served in a coffee cup and it’s too much cream, too much dairy, and just too much.
Pasta Nostra has a nice menu of drinks, including the usual Italian specialities of Negronis and Campana Spritz, along with wines, beers and soft drinks. It’s a nice small modern-looking restaurant with a small bar in the front and tables in the back and upstairs with a great £10 takeaway special (pasta, sauce, and dessert – though the pasta is uncooked). Pasta Nostra is on a mission, according to its website, to make the best pasta in town. Well, I say they are on their way to a great start! I’ll definitely go back!
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.