Eat Here: Padella, Borough MarketBy Alex Goode
Pasta is a wonderful thing. Do you honestly know anyone who doesn’t love pasta? Good pasta is easy to find, easy to understand and unites pretty much everyone. But great pasta – now that’s a whole different ball game. Plenty of people can probably go their whole lives without trying really fresh, homemade pasta. After all, it’s more common to find dried pasta in restaurants than it is to find people making it from scratch and at an affordable price. Luckily for us, Padella has recently opened its doors.
The small pasta bar and restaurant in London’s Borough Market could be mistaken for a pop up but, mercifully, we promise it’s here to stay. Created by the brains behind Islington’s much talked about, Trullo, Padella is a rustic little spot churning out simple, delicious food at great prices.
Padella: The Vibe
To put it in its simplest terms, Padella is the perfect Italian embodiment of a tapas bar – tiny, cramped, candlelit and buzzing with conversation. Upstairs, you can sit on tall stools and watch the pasta being made, shaped, cooked and served in front of you. Downstairs, you’re elbow-to-elbow with other diners on small black tables or perched at the small, busy bar.
This might be London’s hottest new pasta place, but the atmosphere in Padella will do everything it can to make you relax. The service is friendly, but swift, and the style of dining is casual. You’ll drink your wine out of cute glass tumblers and help yourself to cutlery and napkins from a big ceramic pot on your table. You might have to step over a few people on the way to the toilet, too, but that all contributes to a cosy, neighbourhood feel.
Padella: The Food
Padella’s entire existence revolves around simple food, beautifully done, two boxes that it definitely ticks. The streamlined menu offers a choice of a few antipasti and six homemade pastas. The portions are on the smaller side but reasonably priced for the quality of the food you get, so it’s worth trying as many of the dishes as you think you can manage.
You can’t visit without trying the burrata – a big, soft ball of mozzarella, drizzled with some of the best Italian olive oil. Paired with a few slices of fresh sourdough, cut to order at the bar, this is a perfect nibble while the drinks arrive. The beef carpaccio might not be the obvious choice as a starter, but all the antipasti are designed to complement each other. Although we’d advise saving room for the main event, you can never go wrong with a little top quality bread, meat and cheese.
But the pasta is what you’re here for and it certainly stands up to its reputation. The choice might seem limited but is, in fact, a treasure trove of tested dishes, with something to suit everyone’s tastes. This is the kind of pasta that really demonstrates the difference between homemade and the dried stuff. It’s a beautiful creamy yellow, rich in flavour, silky but with excellent bite and texture. Padella cook all their pasta al dente and finish it with a generous scattering of fresh parmesan.
The pici cacio e pepe, which literally translates to cheese and pepper, comprises fat noodles coated in a light silky sauce. There’s a huge amount of flavour packed into a few, beige-looking mouthfuls, and is really putting this little-known dish on the map. If you’re after the satisfying feeling of twirling pasta around your fork, opt for the tagliatelle. You’ll receive a pile of handmade ribbons with sauces that vary regularly. The fennel sausage ragù is a saucy, meaty plateful of heaven, while some of the fish options, such as the smoked eel, are an interesting deviation from the Italian classics of pomodoro and Bolognese.
The dessert menu offers just two choices – one chocolate and one not. The almond tart with rhubarb was dense, moist and not too sweet, exactly what you need after so much rich, luxurious pasta. The wine list is similarly good value, but well formed, and sure to delight wine buffs as well as those looking to enjoy a cheap glass of white with their meal.
Padella: The Verdict
This little piece of Italian heaven does exactly what it says on the tin – serve up flawless, homemade pasta in a relaxed environment that won’t break the bank. Padella is set to be one of your permanent favourite spots to swing by for a midweek dinner, because fresh pasta just never gets old.
Photo Credit: Instagram – padella_pasta