Pastaio in Soho are serving up tasty student discounts
I'll take 25% off my meal, thanks
It’s 2 pm on a frosty Saturday when I arrive at Pastaio in Soho, so I’m expecting it to be relatively busy. Instead, it’s full to the brim with groups of chatty friends, families and couples, all nursing drinks and chowing down on plates of pasta.
Given the area, I had expected the restaurant to be somewhat fancy, but it’s casual, with a Wagamama-style set up of long tables in the middle – minus the uncomfortable benches. The eatery seems refined and modern, with a colourful wall dominating the room and hanging orbs for lighting.
The bar is lined with bottles and cans of San Pellegrino (this is a true Italian), but I settle on a 'prosecco slushy' – one flavour has already sold out, so I’m confident it’ll be delicious. The relaxed atmosphere is evident at Pastaio, particularly on the central tables, where I’m placed next to a young couple who rate the restaurant 8.5/10 and happily recommend the slow cooked Sausage Malloreddus.
It looks great, but I settle on the £8 Cacio e Pepe – a classic dish that I’ve been dying to try after Chrissy Teigen and her legion of fans began flooding my timeline with it weekly. It more than stands up to the praise, the perfect combination of simplicity and richness. I time how long it takes to come out – 10 minutes – and I’m even more impressed.
My dessert, a ricotta, orange, saffron and pistachio cannoli (£5), is similarly speedy – something I mention to co-manager Nick. He explains: “The restaurant is designed to be very streamlined, allowing customers to enjoy a three-course meal in 45 minutes, should they wish.”
I’m there for well over an hour because I’m enjoying the friendly atmosphere as much as the food. You might need Google on hand if, like me, you’re not well-versed in Italian delicacies, but the vegetarian dishes are clearly labelled, and gluten-free pasta is available upon request, so you’re safe to order no matter what your dietary requirements – it all looks, smells and tastes incredible.
The prices are by no means outrageous – my dinner amounts to £17.50 – but with the new 25% student discount the food is truly a steal, and saved me more than £4 (a free dessert?!). The discount applies Sunday - Wednesday between 12 - 5 pm, and then from 9 pm until last orders; just bring your student card to the restaurant. While the vibe is cool and casual, it’s not a spot for a cosy date night, but it’s perfectly suited for a pick-me-up after a long day of lectures with your mates.
I have to agree with the couple I spoke to when I first sat down – the restaurant gets a solid 8.5 from me, maybe even a 9 with that discount…
You can't book a table, (they're too chill for that) so they have a virtual queuing system where if the restaurant is full you can leave them your details and go for a drink, and they'll text you when a table is ready. Visit their website to look at their menu.
You can visit Pastaio at 19 Ganton Street, Carnaby, London, W1F 9BN.
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