Review of Padella – best pasta in London?
I’d tried out Trullo in Highbury last year – a friendly Italian inspired restaurant serving up excellent food. I left with a very good impression and have been meaning to go back since. Sadly the location isn’t that convenient for me. So when I heard that they’d opened up a new sister restaurant next to London’s Borough Market dedicated to pasta,there was no excuse to not go!
All the pasta at Padella is handmade fresh everyday. They want to keep things simple, yet serve the best of Italian pasta. No surprise then that since opening in March this year, they’ve had queues outside.
So one sunny Friday a few weeks ago, I decided to brave the queues and made my way down to Padella. Lucky I got to leave work a little early and got there around 6pm. There was already a small queue of about 5 people in front of me and the restaurant was packed!
I’d asked if I could get a table at the bar, as that would give me the best seat in the house – into the kitchen. As seats are scarce in the small restaurant, the staff couldn’t guarantee that for me. Luckily, my companion for the night arrived late and conveniently at the same time as a couple finished their meal seated at the bar! So I’d suggest you time your visit so you can get this great seat too.
As I was there for the pasta, I skipped on the starters. Although as I sat waiting for my pasta to be made, I was fast regretting that decision. The burrata with olive oil and salami “lovison” looked so yummy! But I knew I’d want to try them with the sourdough bread and that would mean I wouldn’t have enough stomach space for the pasta. So I’ll have to go back in a larger group another time so I can try the starters!
I also watched the chefs preparing all the different types of pasta dishes. All the pasta dishes looked great, and after a bit of a struggle in choosing, I decided on the following:
Fettuccine with Datterini Tomato and Basil (£8.50) – a simple pasta dish allowing you to taste the skill from Padella. The fettuccine was cooked al dente and seasoned well. As you can see, this pasta dish isn’t served with the generous shaving of Parmesan. I guess this is so you can taste the beautiful combination of tomato and basil. I added a good grind of black pepper, just to give the pasta that extra oomph. Definitely worth a try if you want something simple.
Tagliatelle with Nduja, Mascarpone and Parsley (£5.50) – I’m always a sucker for nduja when I see it on the menu, so of course I just had to order this one! When ordering, I was told this was a little spicy and asked if that’d be OK – which of course I said yes. From the first bite to the last – this is not just a “little” spicy. On a scale of 5, I’d say this is probably a 3.5 – so pretty spicy! Don’t go for this unless you can handle your heat. Again the pasta was cooked al dente. The sauce was creamy from the mascarpone and was very comforting. I absolutely loved that generous shaving of parmesan too which had such a depth of flavour.
Ravioli of Ricotta with Sage Butter (£8.20) – As the portion sizes aren’t that big, (or maybe because I was just hungry that day) I decided to order a third pasta dish for me and my companion. Ricotta ravioli is also another one of my favourites and this one didn’t disappoint at all. The pasta was nice and thin, encasing the crumbly creamy ricotta inside. The sage butter sauce was heavenly and really helped to combine everything together. Again the generous shaving of parmesan added another depth of flavour to the dish.
To round off my meal, I decided to try out a dessert.
Almond & Cherry Tart (£4.00) – this was a sad end to my meal. The slice of tart was just not proportionate to the price that I paid. The tart was yummy – soft sponge like texture inside with a crispy crumbly outer later – it was like eating an amaretti biscuit with cooked soft cherries inside. But it just wasn’t enough, I was literally fighting my companion for every last crumb.
So overall I had a pretty good time at Padella. I’m pretty sure if I’d tried the starters and if the dessert portion was bigger I would’ve given a higher score. Being able to sit and watch the chefs in the kitchen was also a big eye-opener and made my evening that much more enjoyable. If you know a thing or two about pasta, then I’d highly recommend you try out Padella. Let me know in the comments below what you think!
Address: 6 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TQ
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 22:00, Sunday 12:00 – 17:00 (tip: no reservations so get there at the right time!)