I have become disheartened over recent years, it has become seemingly impossible to find truly excellent pasta dishes in restaurants. With the rise of chain establishments such as Zizzi’s, Carluccio’s and Strada, the quality of restaurant pasta has plummeted and that is not OK. Pasta is comforting, it evokes happy memories within all of us, from oozing mac and cheese on winter nights to learning how to make spag bol with your mum, and if it doesn’t provoke jolly thoughts, who hurt you?
For those who share my beliefs, there is hope on the horizon. Padella, owned by Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda (yes, son of John), is a relatively new venture and a ruddy successful one at that. Each day an entire workforce happily role and shape various varieties of fresh pasta for lunch and evening service. This drawn out process is worth the hours of toil, their pasta is genuinely some of the best I have eaten. Unlike other restaurants, who would boast about the labourious process of creation, at Padella it is not played up, they let their dishes do the talking.
The short, simple menu reflects the ethos of the place: keep it simple, but execute it well. Four starters included an entire burratta and stewed Borlotti beans. The burratta was light and creamy, delicious when topped with high grade olive oil. The beans were tossed with salty pancetta, an excellent start to proceedings. The mains consist of eight pasta dishes, I wanted to try them all but thought it a little gluttonous. Of the four we ordered, my favourite was the ravioli of Neal’s Yard goat’s curd. The almost identical squares of pasta were excellently cooked and when tossed with marjoram butter I was completely smitten. Equally as special was Padella’s signature dish, the pici cacio & pepe. Similar to udon noodles, these small worms of pasta are prepared so simply the subsequent flavour is astonishing. Merely tossed in pecorino, black pepper and a little cooking water, this uncomplex dish defies logic. Once again, Padella demonstrating their understanding of the power of simplicity.
Not so impressive, however, was the pappardelle with 8 hour beef shin ragu. As with the other mains, the pasta was delicious and extremely well cooked but the ragu lacked character; it had potential to be bold and audacious but instead tip-toed carefully past my taste buds uttering but a whisper.
Borough is an area saturated with good food and good restaurants. Nevertheless, I would repeatedly visit Padella for lunch or dinner. My main query lies with the queuing system, which is becoming ever popular in London these days, however, even miserable queu-ers are appeased. Once you have been assigned a table, you are sent away to a local pub and notified by text when your table is ready, which makes my complaint irrelevant. You’ll be sure to find me here again, probably alone, greedily ‘testing’ the other half of the menu I was unable to this time.