Our pick of Leeds' best pasta dishes, and where to get them
Pasta: friend of Sofia Loren, enemy of white tablecloths the world over. If you ever needed proof that real beauty can come in all shapes and sizes, look no further than the contortions that pasta gets pinched, stretched, and twisted into (not to mention the fact that ravioli and tortellini make a pretty strong case for inner beauty). Who does it better than anybody else in Leeds though? I'm glad you asked...
Meanwood’s Venetian-style small-plate restaurant is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Leeds, and for good reason. Its menu of simple and rustic, but bold and satisfying dishes changes almost daily, however according to Zucco themselves “some items we are not allowed to change for fear of upsetting our regulars.”
If you think getting upset seems like an overreaction, you obviously haven’t tried their sage butter-drenched salt cod ravioli, or gloriously bare ribbons of pappardelle, laced with braised beef ragu and finished with grana padano. Put it at the top of your to-do list.
Zucco, 603 Meanwood Road, Leeds LS6 4AY. Website
There's only two pasta dishes on this new-age pub's small plates menu, both of which use simple ingredients to maximum effect: lip-blackening squid-ink linguine is made in house before being tossed with the sweet heat of tomato and chilli and then topped with a confit egg yolk, and messy-buns of angels hair pasta come slick and fierce with garlic and parsley. Read our full review here to see why we love the place so much.
The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Leeds LS2 7PN. Website
Salvo’s & Salumeria
Salvo’s is such an institution that eating there is as much of a Leeds rite of passage as it is a meal, but that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in its ways - even 40 years on. Their Carbonara is probably the best you’re going to find around here, made with guanciali - a cured meat similar to pancetta, but made from the cheek rather than the belly - paremsan, egg yolks and strictly no cream.
Everybody knows that though, but more of a hidden gem is the neighbouring offshoot Salumeria. A relaxed deli spot by day, which turns into a restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings offering menus of dishes from selected regions served family meal style, and traditionally including one course of homemade pasta paired with whatever’s fresh and in-season.
Salvo’s, 115 & Salumeria, 107 Otley Road, Leeds LS6 3PX. Website
Not strictly Leeds, but this traditional regional Italian is well worth the train out to Harrogate. No set menu means that every visit brings new surprises, one thing that remains consistent though is the fact all pasta is handmade in the restaurant, meaning they can boost it by addings things like spinach or spicy Calabrian N’duja sausage to the dough before twisting it into strozzapreti or folding into filled tortellini.
If you’re into the deep-fried double-carb indulgence of arancini, don’t miss the Timberletti - linguine bound with tomato, anchovy, and fresh peas, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried into croquettes.
Stuzzi, 46B King's Road, Harrogate HG1 5JW
The little takeaway that could continues to grow in size and quality, now a fully functioning neighbourhood bistro. While the pure black charcoal-crust pizza might be Culto’s most eye-catching signature, their pasta range is formidable, ranging from saucy classics like bolognese and lasagna to refined dishes allowing ingredients like lobster and black truffle to shine.
Culto, 97 Stainbeck Road, Leeds LS7 2PR
Vice & Virtue
Recently expanding from its tasting menu roots and providing a selection of small plates a la carte means the pasta dishes which frequently featured in V&V’s mammoth multi-course menus are now available to order separately at the bar.
Big flavours and textures are combined with playful presentation, resulting in dishes like linguine blacked-out by cuttlefish ink, with scallop, pistachio and hen’s yolk, and rabbit tortellini with sour black truffle yoghurt.
Vice & Virtue, 68 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU. Website
If you turn up to Ipsum in the mood for something in particular then you might well be disappointed, but if you’re easygoing and happy to trust the chef then you’ll have a great time. The bright, open, and modern space is in the style of an traditional Italian enoteca (wine bar/eatery), so the short menu on the blackboard changes every day, depending on what happens to be good, this generally includes a pasta dish such as gnocchi with beef ragu or paccheri with mushroom veloute.
As well as being a wine bar, Ipsum is a merchant stocking hundreds of bottles ready to pop open. Order a few plates and they’ll recommend the perfect wine to go with them, or alternatively start with the wine and see what the chef suggests to soak it up with…
Ipsum Vinoteco, Munro House, Duke Sreet, Leeds LS9 8AG. Website
An institution of Leeds: and while the restaurant’s matriarch Gilda might have retired, putting an end to the tradition of belting out opera while serving customers, her commitment to giving them a proper feed lives on.
No-frills food in folksy surroundings, but extremely satisfying if you like your pasta in big portions, baked, cheesy, or saucy. Go for the tangle of wriggly spaghetti with meatballs, served underneath Mont Blanc-scale drift of parmesan.
Pasta Romagna, 26 Albion Place, Leeds LS1 6JS