Global cuisineGuide to London

Pasta Bars: London’s Latest Carb Craze

Officina 00Officina 00

London’s love affair with pasta is a well-known story, but forget your tablecloth-clad fine dining—a new wave of casual pasta bars is taking the city by storm. Let’s delve into the world of these speedy slurp havens and what’s driving this delicious trend.

Interior of Officina 00 Fitzrovia
Interior of Officina 00, Fitzrovia

Italians Did It First (But London's Loving It Now)

Italian food has been a cornerstone of London’s culinary scene since the late 19th century. From classics like pasta and pizza to everyone’s favourite gelato, Italian flavours have woven themselves into the fabric of the city’s food scene. Think about it: would London be the same without icons like The River Cafe or Locanda Locatelli?

The new pasta bar trend bridges the gap between those fancy Michelin-starred establishments and your corner pizzeria. Imagine sleek, modern spaces dedicated solely to the art of pasta, boasting concise menus, fantastic wine lists, and inventive cocktails. Throw in some serious queues (a badge of honour, you see), and you’ve got the recipe for a London phenomenon.

Pasta Bars Londons Latest Carb Craze

Fresh, Fast, and Full of Flavour: Why Pasta Bars Rule

Firstly, freshness is king. Many restaurants make their pasta daily (like the brilliant Officina 00 with its two locations), showcasing top-notch ingredients and creating that comforting, “just-like-nonna makes-it” feel.

Secondly, compared to traditional Italian restaurants, pasta bars offer a more relaxed vibe and speedy service, often at a more wallet-friendly price. Plus, many places let you customise your dish with different pasta shapes, sauces, and proteins—a choose-your own-adventure for the carb loving connoisseur. It’s like having a personal pasta chef without the hefty price tag!

Pasta vs. Processed? No Contest! Pasta bars offer a welcome alternative to the usual fast-food suspects. Not only is it a healthier option, but it’s also infinitely more interesting and satisfying. And let’s face it, a delicious pasta dish is a whole lot more affordable than a night at the (admittedly lovely, but oh-so pricey) Arts Club—perfect for those who enjoy a hearty portion without the hefty bill (if you can handle the inevitable carb coma, that is).

The Top of the Pasta Pile: Places to Have Great Pasta in London

Now, onto the good stuff! Here are some of the top contenders in London’s pasta bar scene:

Officina 00 (Fitzrovia): Childhood friends and Neapolitan natives, Enzo Mirto and Elia Sebregondi, bring a taste of Nonna’s kitchen to London with Officina 00 (Fitzrovia & Old Street), serving up innovative twists on classic pasta dishes using seasonal ingredients.

While not strictly a pasta bar, don’t miss Officina 00 for their incredible take on handmade pasta!  They go beyond the classics, offering unique delights like pillowy pumpkin gnocchi, curly papardelle tangled with rich beef short rib, and “occhi” (meaning “eyes”) – little pasta pockets that look like their namesake and burst with lamb genovese. Feeling adventurous? Try their gigantic raviolo bergese – a single, monstrous raviolo filled with a runny yolk and a tangle of wild mushrooms.  Don’t miss their deep-fried panko lasagne “snacks” – perfect for sharing or a decadent starterThe Fitzrovia restaurant (located at 67 Whitfield Street, London W1T 4DE) is opening a brand new terrace this March, so get ready for some al fresco pasta indulgence! 

Padella (Borough Market): The Michelin Guide mentioned this award-winning spot as a pioneer of the London pasta bar scene.  Expect fresh, house made pasta inspired by the owner’s Italian travels, served in a bustling, fun setting. Grab a seat at the counter and watch the masters at work while you wait in their (virtual!) queue. Mains are around £6—perfect for a quick and tasty Borough Market pitstop. Don’t miss their legendary cacio e pepe!

Pastaio (Soho): Pastaio brings fresh, house-made pasta to the heart of Soho’s buzzing restaurant scene.  Watch the chefs work their magic through the window as you wait (reservations are now accepted for groups of 2–6!). The boldly designed space features communal marble bars and an eye-catching mural.

Their seasonal pasta menu changes frequently, featuring delights like courgette and ricotta conchigliette or black and white spaghetti with fresh crab (their priciest dish at £11). Don’t miss their signature cacio e pepe, or their delicious antipasti like the watermelon, tomato, and feta salad. End your meal with a scoop of pistachio gelato or their classic tiramisu.

Emilia’s Crafted Pasta (Multiple Locations): Can’t decide between fresh pasta and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser? Look no further than Emilia’s Crafted Pasta. Their mantra? Freshness, quality ingredients, and authenticity—all served in a welcoming atmosphere that whispers “cosy Italian dinner” without needing a reservation. With locations across London, Emilia’s offers a taste of Italy without the plane ticket. Their signature pappardelle with slow-cooked béchamel bolognese is a legend, but don’t miss their seasonal specials for a taste of culinary creativity. Bonus: They even have a gluten-free pasta option made fresh daily with just three natural ingredients!

Pasta Bars Londons Latest Carb Craze