From the rustic simplicity of places like The Pasta Factory and Vapiano to the razzmatazz of Cafe Grande and San Carlo, our city has no shortage of pasta cafes and restaurants serving the most sumptuous Italian dishes.
So to celebrate World Pasta Day, we thought we’d round up the very best. It goes without saying that plenty of pasta was eaten in order to compile this list and we are, in fact, now pasta experts.
Here’s our picks.
How many times have you eaten out and thought, this is okay but it needs a little more oomph. How many times would you rather have a little more bacon or a little less cheese with your pasta? At Vapiano you can mix and match flavours, pasta combinations and even swap out the bacon for filet beef in your carbonara, if you’re feeling like a baller. The pasta is made fresh daily and consists of two carefully selected ingredients – water and durum wheat semolina. If you want our advice, try the salmon carbonara. The base is a delicate freshly seasoned salmon fillet, topped with onion and swimming in a rich and creamy carbonara sauce. You can season to your liking and it comes flecked with a generous shaving of parmigiano reggiano that will leave you feeling full and in amore.
You always feel a little special walking into San Carlo and it’s one of the most authentically Italian dining experiences you’ll find in the country. They use only the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients, many of which are flown in from produce markets across Italy. With respect to Italian grandmothers everywhere, this might just be the best version of spaghetti cipolla out there, featuring onion, prosecco and fresh bay leaves. Sprinkle with parmesan or grand padano and Roberto’s your uncle.
Founded and operated by husband and wife team Maurizio and Claire, Salvi’s is everything that traditional, southern Italian eating is about. Rustic, comforting, generous, fine food made from the best, carefully sourced Italian ingredients. All of the pasta is made by hand the traditional Italian way each morning. This means that it’s gorgeously fresh and that comes out in the flavour. Pasta alla puttanesca comes highly recommended.
The Pasta Factory
On Shudehill, this no-frills ‘pastificio’ was opened last year by Italian friends Elisa Cavigliasso, Alberto Umoret, Enrico Princi and Paolo Gaudino, who grew up together in Turin. It’s hearty and divine with ravioli neri di salmone con pepe rosa e pistacchi standing out as a signature dish. It features black squid ink Ravioli filled with salmon, soft cheese and a twist of lemon served in a delicate butter sauce with crushed pistachios and pink peppercorns. Simple and perfect.
If you go down to Per Tutti on the corner of Deansgate and Liverpool Road, you’re in for a surprise. Back in September, Manchester’s oldest independent Italian Don Giovanni announced it would be taking over a secret city centre location with a surprise pop-up event this winter. The long-standing Italian favourite needed an additional site over the Christmas period to cope with demand so it’s taken over Per Tutti until the end of December. Here you’ll find a stripped back menu and some of the best pasta in town. Freshly made of course.
Caffe Grande Piccolino
With its cool vintage exterior, Piccolino is an excellent choice when it comes to Italian fare in Albert Square. Poetic, I know. They offer 120 dishes and a vast menu that spans the classics but also has a shellfish counter offering where lobsters and caviar await. Expect fabulous interiors decorated with Carrara marble and a Harrod’s style food hall – plus a terrace overlooking Albert Square. The linguine ai gamberetti is probably the best thing you’ll eat all year.