Review: Pasta Loco, Bristol

Bugatini pasta

Bugatini pasta

They’re turning them away in droves at Pasta Loco, and you’ve got more chance of finding Heinz Spaghetti Hoops on the menu than you have of getting a table on a Saturday evening! Determined to find out what all the fuss is about, we found a lunchtime excuse for a visit.

Pasta Loco is tiny and spartan. It’s a nice, relaxed place for a meal but don’t be expecting white tablecloths and comfy upholstery. It’s the food that’s going to make you feel at home. Well, and the service. They’re a friendly bunch.

Maureen’s starter is an antipasti of long green peppers, thick white goat curd, sweetly vinegary barley with a little belt of harissa. It’s a magic combo, fresh and tasty with a bunch of contrasting textures. My starter is centred on three beautiful little slices of cold seared beef, on top of a silky-sexy sauce gribiche, with texture from tiny little sweet onion rings and a parmesan crisp. That beef on top of that sauce was definitely an x-rated pleasure. Phew.

Beef stack

Beef stack

Fortunately my main course was so beautifully soothing that I calmed right down. I’ll admit, I’m no expert on pastas. For those of you that also aren’t: bucatini is like thick spaghetti but with a hole all the way down the middle. This one was green with spinach and muddled up in a creamy truffle sauce along with girolle mushrooms and garlic scapes – which turns out to be short, sweet sections of garlic stalk. The pasta itself was as perfectly cooked as I am qualified to judge!

Maureen’s pasta was tortellini of rabbit ragu. And let me tell you that bunny was superb. Doused well in sage butter, along with some tender charred veggies. But the bunny! Soft, deep in flavour, just a tiny bit of bite left.

In true Italian style, there was no failure in the pud department. My coconut and cherry frangipane filled in all the holes just beautifully, and Maureen got a plate of beautifully kept Gorgonzola dolce perfectly partnered by a spiky-sweet little pumpkin relish.

At £26 for three courses, you’d be just delighted to have Pasta Loco as your neighbourhood Italian. That they’re booked out sooooo far in advance shows just how far they’re elevating pasta above “good neighbourhood Italian” levels! You know what they really need to do? Open another branch. In Cheltenham, please.



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