Soft Launch of the Week: Pastaio vs La Tagliata

There is a new wave of Italian restaurants taking over the city. Last week saw the opening of not one, but two Italian joints in central London. In Soho, we have Pastaio – the much hyped venture from Stevie Parle of Palatino and Rotorino. North of this Carnaby venue, is also La Tagliata. Following on from their first site in Spitalfields, is this brand new Fitzrovia space. Naturally I had to check out these two new eateries as soon as possible.

Pastaio

First up was Pastaio. I had been forewarned of the queue – manic Londoners wanting to be the first to Instagram those speckled white tables and perfectly lit small plates. We queued to put our names on the list and went off for a drink at Ping Pong. After over 2 hours we finally got the heavenly text that told us our table was ready and hurried back to the restaurant. Annoyingly, half the venue was now empty and it appeared that we could have been seated much earlier.

As we took our seats, we were told that 6 dishes from the menu had completely sold out. I was horrified that after almost 3 hours of queuing and waiting, we wouldn’t even be able to try the dishes that we had come for! The waiter was lovely and offered us some free drinks so we ease the pain with Prosecco slushies. We finally settled for Castelfranco, Pomegranate + Pecorino Salad (£5), Cured Meats with Sweet Pickle (£8) & Sourdough with Olive Oil (£3) to start… However another nightmare emerged as the kitchen had now run out of bread. Have you ever heard of an Italian restaurant with no bread???

Bring brutally honest, these two starters were bland and boring. Dry salad and unimaginative meat. I wish I had been able to try the other starters as I’m sure they would have been much better.

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Castelfranco, Pomegranate + Pecorino Salad & Cured Meats with Sweet Pickle

Next up are the mains, which were hastily brought to the table before we had the chance to finish either starter. I opted for the Crab Fusilli (£11); a spicy, hearty and delicious dish. However I soon found myself chewing on pieces of crab shell which the chef had clearly forgotten to remove.

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Crab, Courgette, Tomato + Marjoram Fusilli

We also went for the Pesto Casarecce (£8) which was deliciously fresh but didn’t pack enough flavour for my friend who had ordered it.

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Pesto, Green Beans + Potato Casarecce

My favourite part of  a meal is always dessert. Unfortunately the Chocolate & Cherry Tart had run out so we chose Tiramisu and Cannoli. We placed our order, only to be told minutes later that the kitchen was now completely out of dessert.

I understand that this is a soft launch, but surely on the third day you can attempt to correct the issues that have been arising since the opening night? No bread, no hot water, no dessert! If the kitchen cannot handle the demand then the obvious solution is to limit the number of customers coming through the doors. I must admit that the staff really made this evening better, offering free drinks (to the numerous groups groaning in disappointment) but this was the worst soft launch that I have ever been to and the food could not make up for it.

La Tagliata

On Saturday, I made my way to Fitrovia for La Tagliata’s first weekend in the area. The vibe here is quite different to that of Pastaio. Long benches are swapped for low lit intimate spaces and informal small plates are replaced by more expensive choices.

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To start, we went with I Gamberi Alla Fra’ Diavolo (£9), La Tartara Di Tonno (£11.50) + Bruschetta (£8).

The prawns were absolutely delicious – perfectly plump with a creamy sauce which we couldn’t stop ourselves from tasting. The tartar was just as tasty, with fresh pieces of tuna and strawberry which perfectly complemented the dish. However the avocado wasn’t fresh enough and appeared to have been sitting out for a while which wasn’t great. We ended our first course with Bruschetta: five slices of toasted bread with a selection of toppings. I wasn’t massively impressed with this dish as some pieces were nice, but others were quite bland.

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I Gamberi Alla Fra’ Diavolo – Spicy King Prawns with Tomato and Lobster Sauce
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La Tartara Di Tonno –  Tuna Tartar with Avocados, Strawberry and Fresh Lemon
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& Bruschetta

I went with Linguine Al Granchio (£17.50). Flavour-wise, this was quite bland and nowhere near as tasty as Pastaio’s. The price tag doesn’t seem to reflect the taste.

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Linguine Al Granchio – Long Pasta with Crab, Cherry Tomatoes, Chilli Pepper, Garlic and Fresh Parsley

He went for La Scamorza (£16) which was exquisite. The Mozzarella was perfectly baked and the Porcini and Truffle were mouthwatering. The side salad was a perfect counterpart and I was really impressed.

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La Scamorza – Oven-Baked Mozzarella, Stuffed with Porcini Mushrooms and Sun-Dried tomatoes, with Truffle Paste, Rocket and Radicchio

While the wine list at La Tagliata is extensive, there were few cocktails and they were quite boring. I had an Aperol Spritz which was ok but not amazing. The dessert list is also boring and I didn’t bother trying any.

 

Overall, I was much more impressed with La Tagliata than Pastaio. In fact, I was extremely disappointed with the selection of food available at the latter. La Tagliata had more than one dish which I would go back for but I cannot say the same for Pastaio. Both restaurants clearly try hard with their food menus, but seem to lack creativity when it comes to their drinks. Spritz’ and Slushies are fun for summer but shouldn’t be the main focus of a winter menu.

Find out more about La Tagliata + Pastaio and check my Instagram for more munching in London.

London Girl ✖️

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