Walking out of London Bridge station, my phone vibrates with a Whatsapp message from my friend Tasha, ‘The queue is ridiculous, word has definitely got around.’ I look up from my phone to see a a line of bodies snaking around the front of Padella and across the neighbouring building. I walked towards the queue, worked my way down from the front hoping to find Tasha there. My heart dropped and my stomach gave a little grumble when I found her second from last in the queue….Damn it!!!!
In other circumstances, Tash and I would have been on the hunt to dine somewhere else. Weboth can get really ‘hangry’ when we’re starving, (haha). However, on this occasion we unanimously agreed, ‘Let’s wait, it’s totally worth it’. Tash and I had already visited Padella a couple of times before. We knew what was waiting for us inside and it appeared that everyone else queuing did too. Even when Alex, our third musketeer joined us in the queue he appeared bewildered to a) why we were queuing for food? and b) we were prepared to wait for a bowl of pasta.
Padella, a pasta restaurant in the heart of Borough, is the creation by the guys behind Trullo, a contemporary Italian trattoria in Highbury. Since opening earlier this year Padella has proven to be very popular and recently won the ‘Worth The Queue’ crown at the Evening Standard restaurant awards.
We had to wait an hour for the three of us to get seated, but to ease the hunger pain we were able to order drinks from the maitre’d. A few aperol spritz were ordered and drinking through it made the wait bearable. Eventually, a table was finally available. We were led downstairs to the basement where we walked past the open kitchen and table bar where you can sit, eat and watch the chefs work their magic! It’s a great place to sit if there are two of you, or even dining solo. In the meantime, downstairs is decked out with the drinks bar and a number of tables for larger parties to dine at.
Food & drink
Now that we were settled in, all nice and snug, we were faced with that all important question – what do I fancy eating? To help with our decision, we were given a paper printed menu, which is small but concise. To choose, there is a small selection of antipasti, then at least 8 pasta dishes (including the pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu from Trullo) all at £12 and under and a couple of desserts. The same goes with the drinks menu. The selection is small but focused on Italian cocktails ( like Negroni and spritz) and a mix of Italian and local alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Though small, the menu is well curated and there is something for everyone.
We started getting our ‘food on’ with a burrata….EACH! It’s just too good to share. A fresh Puglian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, served with a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper. Slicing the ball of cheese open, the cream just oozes over the plate. It’s just a thing of beauty! Imagine that moment when you feed your mouth with that creamy dream? Tash and I were definitely not short of making those food love noises of appreciation. We ordered a side of beautifully hand sliced salami to round it off.
After we abolished our plates of burrata and salami, we waited for our mains. We all ordered the incredible plate of ‘Pici’ cacio e pepe. A fresh (egg free) pasta, Pici, is a thick hand rolled spaghetti, originally from Tuscany. Cacio e Pepe, is a sauce of melted cheese (traditionally made with pecorino romano, similar to Parmesan) and freshly grated black pepper. Combining these two is heaven! The thickness of the pici give it a really satisfying ‘bite’ – as Tasha, describes it, ‘it’s like eating stringy dumplings’. It is then thickly coated in this moorish, rich hot cheesy sauce. The saltiness of the cheese marries really well with the kick of the black pepper. It was so good that we all ordered seconds, like little piggies.
The portion size of the Pici dish is not as generous as the other pasta dishes on the menu, which is why you may need to order seconds if you still want more. But at £6.50 a plate it’s a total bargain. In comparison to the other pasta dishes I tried on previous visits, I think the Pici are by far my favourite and I have heard that from other regulars too.
There was no room for pudding, but we were very satisfied, thats for sure.
Padella wins my heart
Padella has a great casual, relaxed vibe which brings a level of intimacy too, as everyone is snugged in to the small space. It’s also good value for money especially as all the pasta is hand made with love. I highly recommend it to everyone, even to those people who are not a big fan of pasta. I think Padella, the food and its crew can change your mind.
If you decide to visit and are met with a long queue, just wait it out!. Grab a drink and take the time to chinwag with your mates. It’s worth the wait I can assure you. This is advice coming from a pasta addict. I love Padella and I love it even more after my third visit – already looking forward to my fourth, fifth and sixth!
Padella, 6 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TQ
Nearest tube: London Bridge