As a student, pasta is a reoccurring theme in my dinners, so I wouldn’t normally choose to eat pasta out at a restaurant. However, a menu teeming with fresh ingredients, vegetarian options, and meat delights had me sold. I thought The Pasta Factory would surely be able to beat my simplistic dried pasta dishes which always involve a heavy after-kick of garlic.
Walking into the restaurant left me feeling underwhelmed. The décor could definitely do with a revamp. The floor was a cream, plasticky, tile effect and the tables were laid with logo paper sheets instead of table cloths – something I really don’t like. Yes, I understand the ease, but the feeling it gives to a restaurant isn’t shabby chic but more ‘can’t be bothered’.
After the initial visual disappointment, we were met with a beaming Italian-accented waiter who was keen to walk us through the menu. He eagerly pointed out and described the daily specials and with that information, left us to deliberate.
As we conversed over the menu options, I overheard numerous nearby tables speaking Italian, surely a good sign I thought. If the pasta brings in its native makers, then surely it’ll be good enough for me. Finally, we decided on ordering, one mixed antipasti and one vegetarian antipasti to start, one special spinach and cheese ravioli served with a tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes, and one ravioli filled with ham and topped with hazelnuts.
We waited contently with a glass of red wine each — the cheapest being £5 for a small glass — and looked up keenly when our waiter brought over our antipastis. The meat option was instantly more pleasing to the eye due to the variety of colour and textures included, however, the vegetarian board was more intriguing due to the assortment of interesting ingredients that were dotted across the wooden board. The different parts of the antipasti were explained to us in detail so we should happily dive in knowing exactly what we were tasting.
The stand out flavours on the vegetarian option included the fresh, bursting bruschetta and the richness of the earthy cheese. However, I would have preferred another slice of toasted bread rather than the thin, crispy flatbread-esque item that was included. I also found the lettuce leaves that were included, as kind of pots for the cheese, were strange and unnecessary and the addition of a spoonful of tart hummus was confusing. The price of £7 was steep for the amount included, I understand The Pasta Factory has an ethos of supporting small suppliers, something I admire, but a slightly larger portion wouldn’t hurt anyone, especially not the customer.
Feeling somewhat dampened by the starter, we tried to remain positive, as the fresh pasta was why we were both really there. When our mains were brought out, we knew we had made the right menu decisions. My dish was vibrant and fresh looking, a mix of fresh baby tomatoes and a blended tomato sauce surrounded a hearty pile of delicate squares of filled ravioli. I’ve always loved the idea of ravioli, the satisfaction of biting into fresh pasta encasing my chosen fillings never lets me down. I can safely say I felt that way with this dish. The spinach and ricotta inside to my perfectly formed ravioli worked extremely well with the slightly sweet tomato sauce that they were paired with. I could almost certainly see the waiters glancing at me as I wiped my bowl clean.
My partner exclaimed his pasta was a delight too. The salty ham inside this ravioli combined with the rich cheese fondue sauce created a truly lavish experience, and, the crunchiness of the crushed hazelnuts on top gave the dish an added texture that was more than welcome.
We paid and I thought about a closing sentence for this article, but I couldn’t come up with much more than avoid the pricey, unsatisfying starters, but the pasta is a winner — it’s all in the name.
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