Arte E Pasta

So you’ve never been to…Arte e Pasta E17

We roadtest what's often considered the best pasta in Walthamstow

Where exactly is it? Just east of the buzzing Ravenswood Industrial estate in Walthamstow, Arte e Pasta is housed in a colourful former gymnasium with striking exterior murals: how we love the Wood Street Walls collective (don’t miss a stroll along nearby Wood Street itself for more).

So what goes on there? Some of the area’s best pasta, if local opinion is to be believed, with ingredients imported from Slow Food producers throughout Italy, by  food wholesaler The Chefs Deli (you might know its sister restaurant, Bombetta in Wanstead). Having eaten again recently at acclaimed Leytonstone restaurant Mora, we wondered whether this experience would actually be better.

Arte E pasta
Masterful: anchovies and orange. Photo: SE

What should I eat?  It turns out our starter was the most impressive plate: Ligurian anchovies with zesty orange, aniseedy fennel and just a hit of fiery chilli, a masterclass of balance, all tanginess, heat and savoury flavours. An accompanying artichoke tapenade was tasty but just a tad under-seasoned, a hint perhaps of issues to come.

And then? Although the friendly server was very keen to get us to choose one item from each of the four sections, since the word ‘pasta’ is in the restaurant’s name – and as it was our first visit – we felt the emphasis on this occasion needed to be firmly on carbs. So we then shared two pasta mains.

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Arte e pasta
Pappardelle and gnocchi at Arte e Pasta. Photo: SE

First up, a plate of crab gnocchi with chilli, red onion and dill butter: delicate, fragrant and summery, it was nonetheless a little light on the distinctive white meat for £19, while the gnocchi themselves proved less than pillowy, and at times even rather bullet-like.

Meanwhile, a veal ragu with silken home-made pappardelle successfully delivered its required umami hit – but only with a wee bit of extra seasoning, as well as an additional swirl of (very good) olive oil to loosen it. Or perhaps we were just customising it for our own annoying palates.

Did you speak to the staff about the gnocchi? Yes, we mentioned it politely to the server, who, while acknowledging the issue, launched into a rather lengthy explanation of cooking times. He happily offer to re-do the dish, but not wanting to contribute to food waste we agreed to stick with it, and he halved the price on the bill. A worthy compromise.

Arte E Pasta
Unique interior. Photo: SE

The interior: discuss. It’s a striking hangar-like space. We sat at the counter for a more intimate experience, while Walthamstow’s young families lapped up their mid-afternoon weekend visit in the main dining area.

And what do I drink? The bar person was also helpful on this: steering us away from the darker house rosé, we enjoyed his (only slightly more expensive) recommendation: pale, crisp and lovely. Again: great service.

Overall verdict: We arrived as a huge lunch party had just finished, and the place was quite literally something of a mess, although it was swiftly cleaned up. We’re sure it would be a different, sexier, experience at night, dimly lit and with those simple details – a moment’s overcooking, a jot of under-seasoning – ironed out. In short: we hope to return to share some more starters, pasta – and, next time, a secondi.

Follow Arte E Pasta, 93 Shernhall St E17 @arte.e.pasta

Stephen Emms is the founder of Leytonstoner and also writes about food & drink for Time Out, The Guardian, Lonely Planet and more.

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