With Jamie Oliver moving to town with his new Italian restaurant, we thought we’d make a list of places in the city that maybe even he could learn from. These are the places doing wonders with wheat. And we mean, wonders.
Now, pasta is one of those dishes that many of us believe we can make just as good at home while wearing our Mario and Luigi print pyjamas, so somehow we slightly resent ordering pasta when dining out. However, once you try the handcrafted stuff made by masters of the Italian kitchen, you’ll realise how horribly far from reality you are.
Here are 5 Italian eateries in Vienna that are making their own fresh pasta daily, and serving up extraordinarily tasty dishes that even Nonna would approve of:
Pasta e basta
Where: Werdertorgasse 10, 1010
The sheer smell of this place screams, ‘Mama Mia! that smell of melted cheese sprinkled over steaming pasta is turning us on!’. As the name suggests, eating at Pasta e Basta is all about the pasta, and the owners mean that literally. Every day, homemade pasta is produced in the glass enclosed lab (we call it a lab as there is some serious scientific shit going down in there) next to the dining tables, allowing everyone to watch and learn, as their delicious meal is made from scratch in front of their eyes. The cooks start making the pasta at 4am, so it’s ready by the restaurant’s rush hour at lunch time. Different fresh pasta dishes are served up every day, with always two options always being featured on the menu (which is scrawled on the restaurant window out front). Usually there is an option of some sort of ravioli or stuffed pasta, alongside some classic spaghetti or tagliatelle. And the imperfect texture and superior taste that comes with an artisan product made by hand make this pasta Splendido!
Tip: if you don’t want to stay and eat in, they also sell their home made pasta to take away.
Where: Servitengasse 10, 1090
The charming little Italian place on Servitengasse is both restaurant and a delicatessen shop. Serving daily fresh and handmade pasta, either to eat in-house, or to take away. La Pasteria’s owner, Xerxes, will make sure you feel very at home, judging by the regulars running in and out, having chats and laughs with him.
The delicious homemade ravioli comes with different fillings, like spinach/ricotta, pumpkin/cream cheese, red beet/horseradish, herbs or truffel/ricotta. You can also buy all of the other pasta on the menu to take away, so you can have your way with it at home. Amongst the wheatey-wowsahs is freshly-cut tagliatelle, taglioni, rigatoni and farfalle. Just be sure to ask for them at the counter, as you won’t find them in the glass cabinet.
But if you’re not that into cooking for yourself, just stay in for lunch or dinner and try one of La Pasteria’s wonderfully Italian pastas. If it’s a handful of fresh prawns and tomatoes thrown into a pan and mixed with freshly cut tagliatelle, or super tender calf’s liver Venetian style – the dishes taste like love and home (that Italian home with the Italian nonna that you never had).
Homemade ravioli (different fillings) = 2.50€/100g
Rigatoni with creamy tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella = 10.90€
Tagliatelle with prawns (arrabiata) = 14.90€
Farfalle with zucchini, tomato, olives and grilled branzino = 14.90€
Taglioni with roasted calf’s liver (veneziano) = 15.90€
Herb/Ricotta ravioli with grilled calamari and pepper tomatoes = 15.90€
Where: Margaretenstraße 25, 1040
Carrying around a huge chunk of Mortadella with a carving knife is a giant of a man, wearing breeches, and chatting in a low volume, gravely voice to each of the guests he carves thin slice of the pinkish white polka dotted meat for. He’s presence (and his moustache hidden smile) is as heart-warming as the aura of Cafe Bacco. There are plenty of Alora! and Bongiornos thrown around in the dark-wooded place. The plate and cutlery you’d find at that elegant grandmother’s place – you know, the one that wears gloves and a scarf whenever she leaves the house. Wine bottles live the shelves like little soldiers and the chairs squeak with every little movement you make.
There is no menu here. Alberto Stefanelli, the big personality of the place, is your menu. Just tell him what you feel like and he’ll take care of the rest, and while the thought of leaving the fate of our dish in somebody else’s hands scares the hell out of us at first, our nerves ease as we see the delight on the other guests faces when trying the random dishes he’s served them. He serves us a plate of thin homemade tagliatelle, which when it arrives, doesn’t look like much. Alberto manoeuvres a pile of it onto our plate from the serving plate and tells us to eat it straight away – ‘ It must be eaten as soon as it’s served,’ he tells us. We do as we’re told and immediately the taste of the lemon zest the plain-looking pasta has been infused with, brings our mouth to life. Wowsah! This has to be the freshest pasta that’s ever been slurped up by our lips. Alberto even seasons the pasta for you so all you have to worry about here is eating. Well, they certainly make you feel like that here, anyway.
Fun fact… Cafe Bacco used to be Bacco Tabacco e Venere which Alberto used to run across the road. And while they’ve moved across the road to their new location, nothing else has changed. The wine and the food and the laughs are still just as good.
Trattoria da Paolo & Anna
Where: Burggasse 25, 1070
Even from the outside, before you catch sight of the trays of raw pasta in the glass cabinet inside, you can tell this place is the real deal. A sweet father and daughter set up, Trattoria da Paolo & Anna is a honest and genuine place that makes for the perfect local that you head to when you have a hankering for some superior pasta than what you can boil up and serve yourself. With Paolo, (papa of this establishment) in the kitchen himself with another chef, and Anna and Giovanni on the floor, this low-key place is an intimate experience. Especially because there are only around 20 seats inside, which fill up with reservations quickly most days of the week.
The truffle and ricotta ravioli , garnished in a lemon zest garnish is the house specialty and crowd pleaser. And once we get our tastebuds tangoing with it, we get it – it’s divine. The chunky homemade Taglietelle is confidently and superbly simple.
You know what you’re going to get at Trattoria da Paolo & Anna, there are no surprises. From the outside it’s obvious there’s a unpretentious, unassuming vibe that only insider places give, while the open kitchen where the delicious dishes are prepared (mostly inspired by Paolo’s roots which hail from close to Rome) leaves bare the brilliance of the traditional cooking going on, for all to see.
Ristorante La Tavolozza
Where: Florianigasse 37, 1080
Kitchen open daily until 12pm
La Tavolozza is a restaurant located in the heart of the 8th district that screams Italy from the inside-out. It opened its doors 35 years ago, and the employees go above and beyond when serving their customers (mostly regulars who cannot get enough of this place). The restaurant is usually packed from 6.30pm–9pm, so be sure to make a reservation, or come early!
The name speaks for itself (translation: the palette). The wine menu is full of carefully selected Italian wines, and most of them are put on display in the small restaurant. And, carrying out the must for any authentic Italian restaurant – serving the hungry waiting diners bread with (garlic) oil upon arrival – is a special moment here. You’d think a piece of bread with oil drizzled on it is not worth mentioning Wrong! This was certainly some of the best oven baked bread we’ve ever tasted, and it comes in two variations, fresh out of the oven.
You may find the food menu a bit overwhelming because of the many (seasonally varying) options to choose from (we definitely did!), but a waiter was more than happy to help us make the right decision (where were these guys around during our teenage years!). We listened to them and went straight to Italian food heaven with our choices! The restaurant specializes in seafood, pasta and pizza, with the seafood tasting very fresh, and the porcini ravioli is exceptionally aromatic.
As for the pasta, the chef boasts about how he sources the ingredients that go into it from the market, but we kind of tune out at some point as after tasting it, we couldn’t really care how he does it, we’re just glad he does. The lasagne is ace, while the gnocchi are da’ bomb.
Good to know: the staff can more than just cook and serve. Some of the art inside is painted by an employee!
Also good to know: they prepare their grilled dishes in their wood-fired stove, not only the pizza!