“Yes, you’ll be going loco down in Pasta Loco. The magic down there is so strong.”
There’s a whole list of foodie places I want to visit in Bristol, but as life is busy and it’s an hours drive away, trips down south are few and far between. We’re slowly ticking them off the list each time we find an excuse to take a couple of days away to eat our way through Bristol’s colossal food scene. When I decided to book some tickets for a gig as a gift to Mr R, the closest venue the band were playing at happened to be in Bristol – jackpot. Between The Good Food Guide and local food blogger Natalie Bretherton’s Instagram feed, we’re pretty much covered for suggestions of where to try next. Before the gig and after a mooch around the St Nicholas Market food stalls, we got our fill at Burger Theory. Our lunch stop the following day, and on the way home would be at Pasta Loco on Cotham Hill.
Despite being a fairly new restaurant Pasta Loco seemed to be attracting lots of attention since opening in July 2016, and all good I hasten to add. I booked through their website six weeks in advance, and probably as it was a lunch booking in the middle of the week, I had no trouble getting a table. I’ve since heard rumours that there is up to a 3 month waiting list for weekend bookings. I guess that’s what happens when you’re named as one of best pasta restaurants in the UK by The Week Magazine.
Owners and cousins Ben & Dom grew up eating pasta made by their Italian mothers, inspiring them to open their own fresh pasta restaurant. Ben has a wealth of cooking experience behind him, and has spent time working as a chef in a kitchen in Italy. Dom is upfront, making customers welcome in the cosy 34 seat dining room. In September 2017, Ben and Dom announced that they’d be opening the UK’s first dedicated ravioli bar close to Corn Street in Bristol. Ben’s brother will head up the kitchen at Pasta Ripiena which is due to open in the spring 2018, and hopefully before our return visit to Bristol in May – eyes are peeled!
When we visit Pasta Loco at midday on a Thursday, all 34 seats including ours were occupied. I pretended just for a while that we were on holiday in Italy and sipped away on an Aperol spritz (£6), which also happened to contribute to a good cause as £2 of the price of my drink went to Action Against Hunger charity (Dom’s Nepal walk 2018). The top of the menu was dated – Thursday 22.02.18 and had been personalised with my name along with a smiley face 🙂 Lunch was a choice of 3 options per course with 2 courses at £13.50 and 3 courses at £16.
Mr R and I are usually pretty good at choosing something different from each other to get a good feel for the menu, but this time we both had our eyes on exactly the same couple of things. To start – Quenelles of salt cod fritters arrived hot out of the kitchen, served with a simple garnish of grilled courgette, sun blushed tomatoes and a moreish saffron aioli. The fritters were absolutely delicious, with the only criticism being that there wasn’t a bucket load of them on hand, as they were just so damn good.
Next up, a decent sized portion of fresh linguine appeared in front of us. The pasta was topped with mussels and sea trout in a light, but creamy pomodoro & rosemary sauce. I also got a strong hit of burnt garlic, which I think had been used in the crumb topping and added a different texture to the dish. As I greedily ploughed my way through the deliciously al dente pasta, shelling mussels as I went along, I thought to myself ‘thank goodness I don’t have to share’!
You know the portions sizes are spot on when you can still comfortably squeeze in a dessert. We picked out the espresso & chocolate cheesecake with the premise that the espresso might keep us awake on the drive home. It also happened to be a pretty amazing cheesecake. The sourness of the crème fraiche balanced the sweetness of the chocolate, and the texture was both light and fluffy. To cleanse the palette (or to order cheese for the sake of ordering cheese), we also shared some Manchego with mustard figs and biscuits. At £16 for 3 courses, we felt that, considering the great standard of cooking and quality of ingredients, that this was exceptionally good value. We were treated to a limoncello to conclude our lunch, which as Mr R was driving ended up being two for me, and suddenly I didn’t feel quite as awake as I had done post cheesecake. It’s not hard to see why it was voted Bristol’s best restaurant of 2017, and yes, you’ll be going loco down in Pasta Loco. The magic down there is so strong.
Yes, you’ll be going loco down in Pasta Loco. The magic down there is so strong.
Cost: £32 (food only)
2 starters, 2 mains, 2 desserts
Bristol, United Kingdom – last visited in February 2018
Food hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – date of last inspection 14th November 2017