I'll have to admit to getting the wrong end of the stick when first hearing the name Pasta Factory, but thankfully a stroll down Shudehill and a peer through the window of this little Italian eatery was more than enough to persuade me it was definitely worth checking out. My concern, I suppose, was that it sort of sounded like a chain or, if not, the word factory didn't exactly conjure an ideal of freshly cooked dishes- how wrong I was.
Opened at the back end of 2015 by a group of friends from Turin, The Pasta Factory have been enthusiastically serving Manchester's hungry folk with handmade pasta, to eat in or take away. So with names out of the way we popped down to try some of this factory's handiwork.
To begin with we were recommended the special of asparagus wrapped in speck ham. These were a big juicy bunch, thankfully retaining plenty of their al dente crunch and nicely seasoned by the salty ham. The successful simplicity of that starter was replicated by the taglieri, a chopping board covered with delicious antipasti. Anchovy cupped by little gem lettuce and freshly made pesto impressed as did a deliciously savoury feta style cheese marinated in lemon.
Tasty as those appetisers were, freshly made pasta was what I'd come for and so we shared a couple of dishes. First goats cheese filled ravioli smothered in a nectarous sage and pumpkin sauce then sprinkled with sage crumble. I liked the pasta itself but the combination of crumble and sweet sauce was a little oddly reminiscent of a dessert. We also chose the mackerel ravioli and it worked much better for me as a dish, the earthy, grainy chew of wholewheat pasta and such a meaty fibrous fish only needed a delicately flavoured dressing which it gladly received with a simple parsley butter coating, it was really quite impressive stuff.
The pleasingly straightforward menu of pasta, gnocchi and regularly changing specials is mirrored with a perfectly formed list of Italian wines and craft beers. We plumped for the Barbera D'Alba, and its dry spice worked well alongside the oily fish and cheese filled pastas.
Chocolate ravioli sounded like the sort of must-order thing that couldn't be ignored, the indulgent little bites enveloped in creamy sauce and finished with pine nuts were fun and also pretty good too. Even better though was our other pud, from the specials board, an amaretti biscuit and mascarpone tart that was deliciously moreish, moist but crumbly, it was crying out for a little glass of something sweet, fruity, strong and boozy.
Dessert came around all too quickly if I'm honest as I was really enjoying myself by then. A nicely jovial atmosphere both inside and out of the bustling open kitchen combined with knowledgeable, and indeed quite passionate, service from our waiter had me imagining I was somewhere far from these shores, rather than a stones throw from Manchester's central bus station.
Pasta has to be one of the simplest forms of food possible, although it's capable of producing such wonderful dishes, there must be a lesson in there somewhere I reckon.
The Pasta Factory
77 Shudehill, Manchester M4 4AN
0161 222 9250