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Pasta Ripiena, Bristol
In Bristol, Pasta Loco is legendary. With a four-month waiting list, it plays hard to get. Its newer younger sister, though. Well, she’s somewhat easier to pin down. Not for long though, as she’s already had Marina O’Loughlin, The Times’s formidable lead critic, singing her praises, while The Telgraph’s William Sitwell (of Waitrose Magazine ‘killing vegans’ infamy) was supposedly brought to tears with the mezzaluna of black truffle and porcini. Well, it was hardly going to be the meat-free, cheese-free, lettuce-wrapped falafel that did it for him, was it?
Pasta Ripiena is unfussy and has a menu that will leave you speechless and with money still in the bank. Result. The pasta is freshly made, the organic wines carefully selected and the focaccia seasoned to perfection.
Hot tip: they’ve got a deli opening up a few doors down, so finally you can enjoy the delights of their olive oil-dipped focaccia and biodynamic wines from the comfort of your living rooms. I’ll meet you on the other side, where I’ll be 50kg heavier, with spaghetti for hair, burrata for hands and a heck of a big smile on my face.
Botti di Mamma, Nottingham
Until a few months ago, I didn’t think the words ‘Nottingham’ and ‘world-beating Italian food’ could be found in a sentence together. However, my thoughts were silenced when we took a trip to Botti di Mamma, which is tucked away in the artsy and oh-so-independent Hockley area of the city.
The food, which comprises mainly pasta-based dishes, is simple but delicious — and just like the restaurant’s stripped back and rustic setting, focuses on flavour rather than fanciness. Botti di Mamma’s prices are worth mentioning too, with main courses never exceeding £10 and starters beginning at £5. If you’re lucky enough to have already been, there’s a sister restaurant called Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti located just around the corner. Result.
‘Good things come to those who wait’. No truer phrase could be used to describe a culinary experience at Padella. Yes, queues are inevitable, but after the first bite of their astoundingly tasty range of pasta dishes the 40-minute-or-so wait beforehand will feel like a distant memory.
Prepared using a mixture of Italian and local ingredients, Padella’s menu is perfect for those looking for an authentic Italian meal just south of the River Thames. Best of all? It’s incredibly reasonably priced.
Paesano Pizza, Glasgow
For us, there is no pizza worth parting with your money for other than the stuffed crust Tesco margarita. Because pizzas in restaurants are more often than not incredibly average and monumentally overpriced. Not Paesano, however.
Pizza £5. Wine £4. Ice Cream £3. Done. And there is nothing remotely chainlike about this place. You can feel Pizza Express entering administration the minute you walk through the door. Proper Neopolitan pizzas cooked fresh with the most outrageous toppings Glasgow could source. The atmosphere is buzzy and fabulous, too.