Wednesday, November 03, 2010

10 Best Pasta Dishes in London

I have selected 10 truly outstanding pasta dishes that have been eaten in London over the last 18 months. They are rated outstanding or great because in my opinion they are not only beautifully executed by very talented and skilled chefs but they have been prepared with world class ingredients. To this end they are in most cases as good or more often better than the equivalent dish sampled anywhere else in the world.

What is really encouraging is that many restaurants are now using top quality dry pasta like Pastificio dei Campi (in the case of Tinello and Locanda Locatelli where I have had outstanding pasta dishes many times but not in the last 18 months). It's a pity that so many other Italian and non Italian restaurants can't be bothered to source quality durum wheat , bronze dye (sauce gripping) pasta from Gragnano or Abruzzo and continue to use industrial commodity variants that are often inferior to the supermarket own brand dried pasta. Will the addition of a few pence to their cost per portion be punitive ?

Also the quality of the homemade pasta at Alloro , L'Anima (Pappardelle) and Zafferano (Pappardelle) Galvin Bistro De Luxe (Lasagne) was really exceptional.

I have also been privileged to watch some of these chefs cook the dishes and the memory of Francesco Mazzei creating "emulsione con emozione" whilst preparing Linguine alle Vongole will forever remain in my mind.

Those of you who are particularly observant will have noticed that Paul Merrony's Penne Putanesca would, to most Italians be a total anathema . Firstly the ideal shape for this type of sauce is Spaghetti and the addition of Parmigiano-Reggiano or any cheese should be avoided. Paul is his own man and I have to admit that this actually dish works and despite the imperfect pasta shape and addition of Parmigiano-Reggiano perhaps because it's combination with anchovy creates nothing short of an umami weapon of mass destruction.

If you live in London or are passing through I strongly recommend all the restaurants mentioned not only for the specific dishes but for a fabulous dinning experience.

Spaghetti with Meatballs by Paul Merrony at Giaconda Dinning Room

Pappardelle al sugo di lepre by Francesco Mazzei at L'Anima

Penne Putanesca by Paul Merrony at Giaconda Dinning Room

Spaghetti a la Carbonara made by my Roman Great Aunt

Lasagne of Dorset crab, beurre Nantais by Chris Galvin at Galvin Bistro de Luxe

Linguini alle Vongole by Francesco Mazzei at L'Anima

Pappardelle allo zafferano con guanciale di maiale by Andy Needham at Zafferano

Spaghetti alla Bottarga at Sardo

Pacheri di Gragnano “Nduja” e burrata by Frederico Sali at Tinello

Tagliolini ai funghi porcini by Daniele Camera at Alloro