Il Pastificio is one of the most impressive Cardiff restaurant success stories from the last few of years.
Having originally opened in dinky Wellfield Road premises, this neighbourhood Italian restaurant rapidly built a large and loyal fanbase making it perennially difficult to snag a reservation. A few months ago they relocated to a larger place around the corner and surprise surprise, it’s still just as difficult to get a table for dinner on the weekend.
Embarrassingly, for a restaurant of such renown located only a few minutes from my home, this was my first visit.
ll Pastifico means the Pasta Factory (according to the font of linguistic wisdom Google Translate) and living up to their name, seven out of eight mains incorporate homemade pasta (check out the bottom of the post for a sample menu as they don't have a website).
To start, a trio of juicy meatballs (£5.95) were flecked with hunks of mortadella and bathed in a tomato sauce heady with garlic and oregano. This was a cracking plate of comfort food.
There’s nowhere to hide with a plate of fritto misto (£7.50) and it mostly delivered. Tender calamari were coated in grease free batter whilst a whopping king prawn and a dollop of punchy garlic mayonnaise were both on the nail. The only let down was a few batons of courgette which were well flavoured but disappointingly limp.
Onto mains and spaghetti ai frutti di Mare (£13.50) saw banging al dente pasta with mussels, squid, king prawns, squid and cockles in a sauce which beautifully balanced butter, white wine and shellfish intensity.
A tagliatelle dish (£11.95) meanwhile combined top drawer pasta bathed in a potently savoury and creamy dolcelatte sauce. Chunks of anise twanged homemade sausage, pieces of braised broccoli and a handful of rocket balanced the richness of the blue cheese.
Desserts maintained the high standard.
A pretty lemon tart (£4.50) matched thin pastry with a sweet and slightly sharp filling.
A torta al caramello (£6.50) was a trio of indulgent elements. A crisp biscuit base was topped with smooth salted caramel, glistening chocolate ganache and amaretti crumbs. Super soft vanilla gelato and a turbo-charged espresso shot were excellent foils.
Il Pastificio is an example to other neighbourhood Italian restaurants which rely on the same old menu of spag bol and pepperoni pizza. It deserves the hype.
Address - Il Pastificio, 2 Penylan Road, Cardiff CF24 3PF
Telephone - 029 2049 4138