Italians have known for centuries that good pasta is at the core of life. “Pastificio” – pasta factories where “nonnas” (grandmothers) known as “sfoglina” make fresh pasta – are common across Italy and are held in the same regard as the local basilica. In other parts of the world, the simple dish, though hugely popular, has tended to be treated, undeservedly, with less reverence. Outside of fine dining restaurants – where any chef worth his or her salt will make their own pasta – it’s somewhat rare to be served pasta that has been made that day, on site. But thankfully, that looks set to change, with a range of new, Pastificio-style restaurants across the globe that are flying the flag for this beloved combination of eggs, flour and water.
London, in particular, seems to be going through a pasta boom. Pastificio and restaurants majoring in pasta are springing up all over the city and expat Italian chefs are its champions. The first of these (at least according to its own website) was Shoreditch’s are Burro e Salvi, which opened its second restaurant in East Dulwich in 2015, and has a sister restaurant in Bologna, where many of its staff are trained. Earlier this year, brought us Padella on Borough Market, a diner-style eatery from the team behind Trullo, in which staff hand-craft pasta in front of guests sitting at the bar. What these different establishments are teaching us is that pasta, far from being the rather bland serving of carbs we’re used to, is a nuanced dish that can be made in a myriad of different ways. “Every Italian family has their own way of making pasta and follow certain traditions,” says Mr Francesco Mazzei, who took over as head chef of the revamped Sartoria on Savile Row in 2015. “The pasta culture varies between the towns and what’s been passed between generations. At my restaurant we specialise in southern Italian pasta and my favourite dish is ‘pastachijna’, my mother’s take on lasagne that’s been in the family for decades.”