“We’ve travelled all over Italy, through people’s kitchens as well as it’s most famous pasta restaurants, and having rolled enough pappardelle to get to Rome and back, Padella will serve the absolute Don Daddies from our 10 year love affair with Italy’s most famous dish!”
Padella – which means pan in Italian – is the culmination of its founders (the people behind Trullo in Highbury) long held dream to open a pasta bar serving hand-rolled pasta with sauces and fillings inspired from their trips to Italy. Trullo opened in 2010 to rave reviews and is now fully established as one of London’s most accomplished and respected neighbourhood restaurants. As I’d been there three years ago for an excellent bowl of pasta, I was keen on trying out newly launched Padella, and in the mood for continuing my celebratory Easter weekend, I took my companion here on their soft launch.
Padella is the epitome of counter-top eating. The sleek, traditional and functional design features shelves lining the walls with ingredients and bespoke pendant lights. Split over two floors, diners enter the restaurant on the ground floor from either Southwark Street or from within Borough Market. Counter seating runs the length of the ground floor and along the window overlooking Southwark Street. The lower ground floor offers further counter seating as well as a handful of tables and chairs, where my companion and I sat.
Padella serve a short menu of eight homemade pasta dishes, as well as a few antipasti and dessert options. All the pastas are, of course, made fresh on-site shortly before being served, proudly rolled in full view of passers-by and queues in the restaurant’s window.
Three vege pastas were on offer that evening: Tagliarini with slow-cooked tomato sauce (£5.50); Pici with parmesan and black pepper (£6), of which I have very fond memories of in Rome where I first tried the dish in an edible parmesan basket; and a Ravioli of ricotta with sage butter (£6.50). Torn by which ones to order, I asked for recommendations from my waitress, but I was unimpressed by her unwillingness to describe the dishes further or guide us. She actually seemed a bit distracted the whole evening. In the end, my companion went for the eggless Pici. She enjoyed the textural, firm, worm-like ropes of the pasta and its buttery cacio e pepe dressing. The sauce uses pepper as a spice and is a key flavour rather than just a seasoning. The pasta was also cooked beautifully al dente, which gave it a nice bite.
I went for the Ravioli, served with a solo sage leaf and a creamy butter sauce. The ricotta was oozing out of the well-cooked ravioli discs and was very moreish.
Tim’s aim is to “to make great pasta affordable for everyone, after all it started out being peasant food. The beauty of pasta is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to be luxurious.” It’s impressive that Tim’s idea is “to do a handful of things very, very well” as this enables him to offer high-quality food at very competitive prices. Although we were dining here on their 50% soft launch, even their full price menu is very affordable, with “pans” of pasta starting at just £5.50 a pop. That’s very good value for fresh pasta in the heart of London and is about a third of the price of Jacob Kenedy’s Vico where I’d dined the night before. In total, our meal at Padella, including a sourdough starter and a couple of pasta dishes came in at just over £7! Brilliant value. I’ll definitely be returning to try out their slow-cooked tomato sauce to see how it compares to my mum’s tomato sauce which I’ve already crowned as the best sauce around!
Padella, 6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ