A SIMPLE pasta dish for lunch with a glass of wine. Easy to rustle up at home – boil to al dente the Cecco or Barilla, in the shape of your choice, and pour on the Dolmio or the Napolina. Ready grated cheese if you are really feeling lazy. We are all Italians now. You could even scoff it watching one of those cheesy (and we don’t mean parmegiano) telly ads where it’s all just like Mamma used to make.
Or instead – and we’d heartily recommend it – you could go to Sugo in Altrincham or Salvi’s in the city centre and discover a world of pasta more rustic yet more sophisticated. Now you can add to that classy duo Pasta Factory on Shudehill. It took ToM a while to follow up all the word of mouth praise and we deliberately chose lunch.
That’s because the offering is so basic. The menu offers just two pastas – the squiggly spinning top-like trottole and bucatini, that thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole in the middle – at £6 to £7 a shot. With each is a selection of three sauces apiece. We resisted a tempting £15 special on the board, squid ink bucatini with shrimp, indicative of a more ambitious evening menu.
I went for a chilli-spiked arrabiata with my bucatini, while my companion’s trottole (above) was topped with a sauce of rich Toma cheese and black pepper. Both dishes, augmented by an ample sprinkling of Parmesan, were super savoury.
As was our £20 bottle of spicy Barbera, half of which we had downed by end of our nibbles of nocellara olives and bread with balsamic/olive oil (again good value at £4).
The exemplary, affordable wine list shows the influence of the Piemontese background of the folk who run Pasta Factory. There’s also a nod to the burgeoning Italian craft beer scene with Turin’s IPe IPA on draught and a serious selection of bottles, mostly from Amarcord in the Marche.
For an imminent evening return shortly (because we fell in love with this homely place thats also does takeaways of cheese and fresh-made pasta) I’ve earmarked a real beer treat – My Antonio, a collaboration between a Lazio brewery and America’s Dogfishhead. At £7.50 for 330ml, serious stuff. ToM does like the surprises you get at genuine indie places.
The Pasta Factory, 77 Shudehill, Manchester M4 4AN. 0161 222 9250. Closed Monday, open all day the rest of the week.
Checkout our Our Taste Top Ten Italians.