After arriving home from the beautiful city of Venice, to a typically wet and miserable August day in the UK – I needed to keep the holiday spirit going; I wasn’t ready to stop the good food and the wine guzzling just yet. So I decided to visit the guys at Pasta Loco to get my Italian dinner fix and see what all of the fuss what about. I had already put on roughly 40 stone whilst on holiday, so I figured what’s one more meal going to hurt?
I had kept up-to-date via social media on the restaurants progress before they opened their doors recently and I was really excited to see what was in store after hearing nothing but positive comments and reviews. I must start by telling you, the hype is real, and very justified. Nestled in a nice spot on Cotham Hill, the place was full when I arrived at 8.30, a great sign on a wet Monday evening.
The atmosphere was lively with the sound of chatter and laughter; there were tables of couples, groups of friends and families. The ambience was warm with dimly lit lights hung low over the tables, candles and flowers adorning them. The décor of the restaurant is mainly wooden; it is simple and unfussy but has the desired effect of looking classic and modern. I enjoyed the personal touches, black and white childhood photographs of cousins Dom and Ben (the co-owners) and their family up on the walls, almost as though they are all enjoying dinner with you. The atmosphere was punctuated with a lively soundtrack of music in the background. It could have been any night of the week in here, which I liked. Upon being seated the gorgeous Zaniah asked if we’d like two glasses of Prosecco to start. That is like asking me if I would like more money, a girl after my own heart.
After we’d finished the fizz we decided on a bottle of red wine from Tuscany. It was delicious. The wine list was not too daunting and extremely reasonable price-wise, with the majority of them being served by the glass or bottle. The food menu was going to be trickier; I liked the look of everything that was listed. My name was also printed on the menu; I love little touches like that. Makes me feel a little bit like Mariah.
In the end we settled on Venetian salt cold and home cured duck for starters, followed by Linguini Salsiccia carbonara (with pork belly and a poached egg) and Conchiglie with ox cheek ragu for mains.
The first courses arrived swiftly and were beautifully presented. I am big fan of beautiful looking food, (I love to instaspam) and it is a treat for all of the senses. We tucked in. The duck was fantastic; the sweetness of the poached grapes worked very well coupled with the lingering taste of gorgonzola on my tongue after every bite. The walnuts and rocket added some crunch in contrast to the soft meat. The Venetian style cod was equally as flavoursome, without being too overbearing and strong, it worked fantastically when coupled with the red onion.
Course one down and with the wine still flowing, Dom and Zaniah manoeuvred expertly around the space, serving and stopping to chat and joke with the diners. A cake was presented for a little girl’s 8th birthday, with everyone singing along. I felt incredibly relaxed and content taking everything in. Not a single detail was missed and the hosts were never overbearing or too much, if anything I could have chewed Dom’s ear off all night asking about his wealth of experience.
Next up were the mains. I can honestly say that this food was on par with what I had been eating over in Italy a few days prior. The pasta was hot, with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese melting beautifully into the ox cheek ragu. The portion was generous but not gut-busting and incredibly tasty. The Linguini was different to anything I had tried before; the poached egg broke beautifully over the spaghetti with the yolk running in between the pasta and over the pork belly. The combination of the three flavours worked very nicely together. I would highly recommend the dishes we enjoyed although everything coming out of the kitchen looked like a delight. A great excuse to keep going back for more.
Dessert was another beauty. Chocolate soufflé with salted caramel and pistachio was always going to be a winner for me as I am more of a chocolate fiend myself. However, I was surprised with just how much I also loved the almond frangipane with raspberry ice cream. Summery and fresh, it was glorious. It was very pretty too.
Dom and Ben have created a wonderful fine-dining restaurant without pretention and without a hefty price tag. Everyone is welcome – I would happily take the family here for dinner, come with my girlfriends or it is a lovely spot for date-night. Pasta Loco provides fantastic, creative food with a menu that changes regularly, alongside carefully selected wines and cocktails. At the end of our meal Dom explained how family plays an important part in their ethos, and is their main focus within the restaurant. Coming from a big family myself, I couldn’t agree more with the theme of sitting down together at meal times. It should be fun, there should be chatting, laughter, sharing, passing plates and enjoying the experience with one another. I believe in a city like Bristol, where there is a lot of emphasis on community, this theme fills a gap nicely in the independents market. You can expect a warm welcome, fantastic food and a great evening. I look forward to my return!