Few things in life go together quite as naturally as a bowl of carbs, a (large) glass of wine, and yourself for company. This combination isn’t just made for wallowing and watching Netflix’s... 11... next... 10... episode... 9... though. It’s a celebration of not being arsed to cook, of not having to share, of pretending your life is much classier than it actually is. That said, you can’t do this anywhere. You need your pasta place to have a few things: a relaxed atmosphere, a room that’s comfortable to sit in, and obviously a load of non-pricey pastas and wines by the glass. So, next time you need the best kind of me-time, choose one of the spots off this guide.
If you work or live around Shoreditch, then it’s likely you need some respite more often than not. Unlike most restaurants in the area, Popolo is able to give you just that. This little Italian on Rivington Street has a downstairs and upstairs bar area perfect for escaping the high-intensity horrors of outside. The food menu is made up of a few changing pastas, like squash ravioli or pig cheek agnolotti, while the wine list is full of the natural stuff.
Although a slab of lasagne from Ponti’s used to do the job on lone shopping trips down Oxford Street, these days you should aspire to a classier type of carb, and that’s what Emilia offers. Although the upstairs to this Mayfair spot is very white tablecloth, the downstairs is a stylish casual bar setting that’s made for you, your taglierini, and your glass of chianti. There are three pastas on the bar menu - vegetable, meat, and fish - meaning there’s no excuse not to treat yourself.
Your housemate has recently self-diagnosed themselves as ‘freelance’, which appears to be similar to going stir crazy, but involves more elaborate lunches and sending a lot of texts about toilet roll. Home is not what you need right now. What you need is an escape involving pasta and wine, and Trullo is where to go. There are always three pastas on here, all under a tenner, plus twenty or so wines by the glass. Atmosphere-wise, this place is anti-stress, and you’re not going to get any more relaxed without investing in some communal sedatives.
There’s big competition for London’s most picturesque pasta spot. And no, that doesn’t include you eating from your tupperware on a bench next to the Thames. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta is definitely in the running. It’s on St Katherine’s Docks, meaning if you’re around Tower Hill and find yourself pining for waterside views plus a bowl and a glass of the good stuff, then you want to be heading here. The pasta selection is fairly extensive and priced around £10-12 mark, while glasses of wine are under a fiver.
The problem with eating out these days is that all too often you’re obliged to share. It starts with ‘ooh shall we order a few things and have a bit of everything’ and ends in your far superior choice (the signature agnolotti) being ravaged by animals (your friends), and basically getting two bites to yourself. This is a problem we’ve had at Burro e Salvia before, and we’ve solved it by having a lovely time on our own. Although there are only five pastas on per day here, they’re handmade in front of you. You’ll be glad you’re not sharing.
Sometimes pasta is important, but wine is more important. When you’re feeling like that you go to Sager + Wilde in Paradise Row. That’s not to say the pasta here is not lovely. It’s to say that once you happen to stumble on their glass of wine and bowl of pasta for a tenner deal, you’ll probably find that you’ve got enough left over for another glass or two. Which is an extremely welcome surprise, if you ask us.
It’s funny isn’t it? Everyone thinks imagination games are just for kids, but you still end up playing them as an adult. Only instead of fighting imaginary space wars or building multicoloured cities, you’re imagining being sat at a dimly lit bar, elbow deep in a bowl of tagliatelle, with a vase-size glass of Barolo for company. That’s the grown-up dream, and at Luca it becomes reality. This Clerkenwell Italian is the classy restaurant you’ve been imagining your whole life.
Don’t get us wrong, we love a plate of handmade pici and a glass of merlot, but there are times when you’re looking for something else on your own. Something that may or may not be a portion of lasagne big enough for three, but which you’re ordering very much for one. Along with a glass of house red. Trevi is that kind of Italian. It’s a homely, no-nonsense place where you can pitch up in a little corner booth, hide away for an hour or so, and have a lot of cheap and cheerful pasta. You’ll leave much more content. Believe us.
Going out to eat and drink alone can be a weird one if you don’t do it right. That’s why you need the right environment, especially if you’re looking for somewhere with a bit of atmosphere. You don’t want to be muggins at the bar with pheasant ragu all over their chin, do you? You need a restaurant with buzz that you can vicariously enjoy, without needing to fully get your buzz on via the wine list. Here’s where Bright comes in. This London Fields wine bar/small plates restaurant only has two or three pastas on at time. But that’s all you need. Thanks to its extensive wine list, and a cool, comfortable atmosphere, you’ll end up back here again and again.
Self-care is a big deal these days. We’re not entirely sure what the definition is, but we’re pretty sure getting a plate of pasta at the counter in Bocca Di Lupo falls into it. This is a power move. It sends a message to the world that says, you best take me seriously, because I take feeding and watering myself very seriously. There are usually seven or eight primi bits to choose from at this legendary Soho spot, and the best thing is they come in small or large, so you won’t be choosing one or the other.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more quiet. You know, somewhere, you and your rigatoni can have some serious alone time. A proper one-on-one, if you will, then Flour and Grape in Bermondsey is a good bet. The pasta is very tasty, and the restaurant itself is very lowkey. This is an excellent back pocket spot for when the queues at Padella are too much.
It may say it’s a pizzeria, but Pappa Roma is one of those Italian restaurants that does a bit of everything, and you’re not going to find anywhere as welcoming or this close to South Ken station. Especially not for when you’re on your own. The pasta choice is pretty broad, and even though they’re all a tenner or more, that’s good value when you consider you’re in Kensington.
There are many advantages to eating pasta alone. For starters, you have complete control over what and how much you want to eat. You also have no concerns about bad, or awkward, conversation. Even better is the total (and potentially dangerous) autonomy over the amount you drink. These are all excellent, but what’s often overlooked is the flexibility. Bancone is regularly packed. That means it isn’t somewhere you can just walk into as a couple. But you’ve got much more chance alone. So come around 8:30ish and you’ll probably be enjoying their silk handkerchief pasta in no time.