Lasagne layered with rich tomato sauce and lashings of cheese. Mouth-watering morsels of ravioli. Handmade tagliatelle tossed in sage butter. Need we say more? If the mere mention of pasta is making your mouth water, you’ve come to the right place. While we could easily eat a big bowl of pasta for tea every single day of the week, there’s even more of a reason to indulge in this Italian staple on 25th October. Why, you might ask? It’s World Pasta Day, of course!
To celebrate this momentous event, we’ve rounded up some of the best independent places across the North of England and Scotland where you can dig into some delicious pasta dishes.
The Pasta Factory, Manchester
Where: 77 Shudehill, Manchester, M4 4AN
With a name like that, you can expect good things from this Manchester venue. It’s widely considered one of the best places to eat pasta in the city – and you’ll see why when you browse its massive menu of moreish options.
The Pasta Factory focuses on back-to-basic ingredients handmaking all their pasta out of two simple ingredients – durum wheat flour and water. They also use the freshest produce in their sauces, whether that’s their lasagne verde or beef ragu. There are options to suit all dietary requirements too, meaning you can visit with all your friends and family without fretting about someone having only a plate of breadsticks to eat.
Seek out unusual vegan dishes like spaghetti topped with courgette flowers and pistachios or sample the restaurant’s decadent potato gnocchi topped with truffle oil and parmigiana. Yum!
- Piccolos, Sheffield
Where: 3 Convent Walk, Sheffield, S3 7RX
For pasta like you might find in an Italian grandma’s kitchen, you can’t go too far wrong with Piccolos. This tiny, family-run trattoria just off Sheffield’s bustling Glossop Road always gives its guests a warm welcome and leaves them with a very happy belly. In fact, you’ll probably feel like you’re dining in an Italian home thanks to Piccolos’ cosy venue and friendly staff.
Piccolos has been serving sensational pasta and other classic Italian dishes since 1998, so they know a thing or two about pasta. The menu focuses mostly on traditional, feel-good pasta picks like creamy carbonara and homemade Italian meatballs in a piquant chilli and tomato sauce. A few specials are usually thrown into the mix every week, so ask your server about them when you sit down.
- La Locanda, Edinburgh
Where: 61 Cockburn St, Edinburgh, EH1 1BS
This Edinburgh-based Italian sits next door to Edinburgh Waverley station, making it an ideal spot for lunch as soon as you jump off the train.
La Locanda has a fantastic outdoor seating area – which will 100% make you feel like you’re on holiday in Europe – and a menu featuring some seriously taste-bud tingling fresh pasta dishes. Favourite picks at this family-run restaurant include their homemade meatballs made from Aberdeen Angus beef and their spinach and ricotta ravioli tossed in sage butter and toasted pine nuts. Yum!
There’s also an awesome wine list, plus some divine sweet treats if you’re still a little peckish after your pasta. Why not finish off your meal with some creamy homemade tiramisu or a slice of cheesecake?
- The Italian Club, Liverpool
Where: 85 Bold St, Liverpool, L1 4HF
Liverpool is a king of independent restaurants – and there’s no shortage of places with an Italian flare. This includes the aptly named The Italian Club which prides itself on being the first port of call in the city for authentic Italian grub.
There are actually multiple venues in the city under The Italian Club umbrella, from a bakery selling sweet treats like cannoli, to a restaurant specialising in fish dishes. While none of them specifically focus on pasta, you’ll find a whole load of tempting picks on the menu at the original venue on Bold Street.
Tuck into a plate piled high with spinach and ricotta ravioli or try out the restaurant’s oh-so-delicious spaghetti bolognese. They create every dish from scratch after you order it, plus many can be made vegetarian or vegan on request.
- SARTO, Leeds
Where: Munro House, Duke St, Leeds, LS9 8AG
Sleek, modern interiors and a simple yet effortlessly flavourful menu makes SARTO a hotspot for the cool crowd in Leeds. It’s a relatively recent addition to the city’s independent restaurant scene having opened in 2019 and it’s a prime pick for a pasta fix.
SARTO’s menu changes fairly frequently, but it’s always got a solid selection of pasta (they are its specialty, after all). Current picks include fettuccini with nduja ragu and campenelle with garlic, lemon and caper butter. There’s almost always a couple of veggie and vegan options to choose between too, plus snacks that are ideal for sharing like focaccia and buffalo mozzarella.
- Portofino, Newcastle
Where: 12A Mosley St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1DE
Another authentic and very traditional place for pasta is Newcastle’s Portofino. Named after one of the most idyllic coastal towns on the Italian Riviera, it’s fittingly lodged inside a stunning Grade II listed Victorian building with gorgeous high ceilings and original tiling.
Venue aside, Portofino’s menu is certainly nothing to baulk at. They do their pasta dishes a little differently letting you choose exactly what kind of pasta you’d like to pair with your chosen sauce. There are nearly 15 different flavours to choose between, from pancetta-infused amatriciana to classic Genovese pesto.
Planning a lunchtime visit? Portofino’s Happy Hour menu is available until 7pm on weekdays and 5pm on Saturdays, and includes pasta dishes for £7.50. Bargain!
Whether you’re planning a pasta-themed date night or simply meeting a friend for a light lunch, why not visit one of these fantastic Italian restaurants in one of these top cities? If you can, buy tickets in advance to book a seat on the train and get ready to sample some of the best Italian cuisine going.