My diet is about 80% pasta – and no, I’m not kidding.
Not only is pasta such a versatile food, but it’s the epitome of comfort no matter what state you eat it in.
Pasta is humble and simple, literally a peasant’s food.
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I can’t be sure how much pasta I’ve eaten over the years, but it’s definitely at least twice my own body weight.
So in this case, I definitely know my conchiglie from my conchigliette.
In London, we are overwhelmed with the number of Italian restaurants, delicatessens and pasta hot spots, which can sometimes be a blessing or a curse.
One of the newest Italian joints in town – yes they serve alone pasta – is the largest and one of the most popular restaurants in Italy, Miscusi.
London welcomed the pasta giant to its side streets of Covent Garden in December, promising to bring an authentic taste of Italy.
Tucked away in the courtyard of Slingsby Place is a quaint spot adorned with pasta-lined shelves, a wheat-covered ceiling and the mismatched furnishings of a small Italian bistro.
Miscusi lit up Slingsby Place on the cold, dark January night, inviting guests into his art deco-style venue.
It’s relatively small for a typical London restaurant, but its size only adds to the intimacy it tries to evoke.
To one side of the room is the dining room, where guests mingle under a wheat-covered ceiling.
On the other, plenty of space in front of the art deco bar and coffee counter, lined with bottles of Aperol.
It also gives diners and customers the opportunity to buy their own products, which they use in their diet.
Everything from their whole wheat trofie to ancient paccheri beans.
Unlike Eataly in Liverpool Street, Miscusi had no air or grace, presenting itself as a place to pop in for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner.
What is commendable about the restaurant is that they only serve pasta for the main course, so you feel like they know their way around a ravioli.
You’ll find nine signature dishes on their menu, but the real deal breaker is this…
Miscusi lets you “get creative” and build your perfect bowl of pasta.
Italians are generous and allowing diners to satisfy their pasta cravings is a big yes in my books.
What also caught my eye, for the right reasons, was the price of the prosecco.
We checked with the waitress for the size of the bottle, not wanting to be tricked into receiving one suitable for a small child.
I don’t know of any other place in London that would sell a standard sized bottle of fizz for £15.
Prosecco ordered and on the way.
The experience so far sent my mind to the streets of Rome, but without the enviable, ridiculous warmth.
For my first visit to Miscusi, I opted for one of their signature dishes.
On the menu for me was the Tris Di Bruschette and their Fusilloni Mediterranei.
I would share the bruschetta trio with my mate, who decided to get creative and build his own meal.
She opted for their chickpea and durum rigatoni with pomodoro and burrata sauce.
The prosecco arrived relatively quickly, and the bruschetta after that.
Three slices of healthy sized sourdough bread were topped with hummus, burrata and pesto. They were the perfect size to split between two, but the flavors were vibrant.
My favorite, without a doubt, was the bruschette with burrata, cherry tomatoes and basil.
Its coolness brought al fresco summer dining to a quiet corner of Covent Garden in mid-winter.
I was a bit put off by the hummus bruschetta, but it worked as a gentle cleanser for the palette. The last of the trio took the form of a Mediterranean pesto and sautéed vegetables.
Very slightly heavy for a beginner, the mismatch worked perfectly and left me looking forward to the next class.
As our evening progressed, our incredibly generous entrees arrived.
Miscusi doesn’t skimp on portion sizes – and I was in love.
My sorghum fusilloni with Mediterranean pesto, sautéed vegetables and chopped almonds were stacked in a dish a little bigger than my own head.
My meal was comforting, full of delicious flavors that were distinctly and distinctly Italian.
Miscusi’s food was perfectly simple, but not basic, avoiding complexity and pomp by adding minimal ingredients to the plate.
Every bite was an explosion of classic Italian cuisine, like all nonnas.
The pasta was so good it could make my heart sing.
It’s probably Amore.
I wasn’t even halfway through the bowl before I was full.
But I wanted to keep eating, because that’s what Miscusi’s food does.
It makes you want to go back for more.
If that’s not the sign of a fantastic restaurant, I don’t know what is.
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To make the night even better, Miscusi’s humble food won’t break the bank, costing my friend and I £22 each for a bottle of bubbly, starter and main course each.
For anyone who can master arguably the most versatile food on the planet has cracked the code.
You don’t need the pomp and exorbitant prices of Eataly to get an authentic taste of Italy.
All you need is to ask “Miscusi?”