The Pasta Project

By Jo Cooksey

We eat out in Manchester a lot, so it’s nice to get out of the city every now and then. I received an invitation via our Twitter from The Pasta Project in Harpurhey, to the launch of their new pizza offering.

I hadn’t heard of The Pasta Project so I went on line to check them out and found a really nicely designed website, which laid out the ethos behind the business. “The Pasta Project offers the very best handmade Italian dishes in the neighbourhood of Harpurhey. Simplicity and quality ingredients are key; humble, hearty and indulgent fresh pasta dishes and pizza to eat-in or take-out.”

It sounded good. Who doesn’t love a bit of fresh pasta or pizza? They are as much a staple of the British diet as fish and chips or a roast dinner. The menu itself consisted of seven pasta dishes and nine pizzas, including specials, all simple in their lists of ingredients. No whacky pizza toppings here.

I’m not familiar with Harpurhey, other than somewhere I drive through on the way to the motorway sometimes, so I was delighted when the sat nav directed me into a big, free car park right outside the parade of shops where The Pasta Project lives.

Inside it is bright and modern and the pasta station and pizza oven are right in front of you, so you can see your chosen dish being cooked from scratch. There is plenty of seating if you want to eat in or you can take away. They also have a delivery service within the M9, M8 and M40 areas.

Ivan Levorato, joint owner and manager, warmly welcomed us. He explained that The Pasta Project has been open since last July, serving their pasta menu, breakfast and snacks. However, lots of their customers had been asking why they didn’t serve pizza too, so Ivan decided to give the people what they wanted and last month the new pizza oven was installed. Ever since their fresh, stone baked pizzas have been flying out of the door.

He also told us that everything, the pasta, the pizza dough, the sauces are made freshly every day on the premises and that because everything is cooked to order the customer can tailor-make their own dish. If you want more garlic, you can have it. If you want less herbs you can have it. It’s your dish. They only use the finest ingredients; 00 flour, semolina flour and free range eggs and their pizza dough is left to prove for the proper amount of time before being cooked.

I asked what the future plans for the brand were and Ivan described how the opening had been an experiment to test the concept and now that it was proving to be a success they are ready to launch it on the city centre. Aiming particularly at the lunchtime trade. What better than a freshly made, wholesome lunch to eat in or take away or grab on the way home from work? But don’t worry Harpurhey; your branch is staying put.

By now we were really hungry, so we chose a pizza and a pasta dish with the aim of sharing them between the two of us. I decided on the Genova pasta, fusilli with basil, toasted pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan and my dinner guest chose the Tonna pizza, a 10” medium base topped with tomato, mozzarella, tuna, sweetcorn and red onion. Both dishes arrived at our table in only a few minutes and we tucked in. The pasta was cooked correctly, al dente, toasting the pine nuts added a nice crunch and the other components made it flavoursome and luscious. Though I have to say it was a little over salted for my palate. The pizza was delicious, steaming hot with a crispy, bubbled crust that wasn’t soggy and held the toppings well when picked up. It was so good that we ordered the Ciccia pizza, with tomato, mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni and nduja to take home for my dining companion’s other half, who is a pizza aficionado.

Despite being replete and satisfied, we couldn’t help noticing the portions of Tiramisu in the chiller cabinet. We do have a very big weakness for this creamy, coffee infused dessert and do tend to judge an eating establishment by its version of this Italian classic and the end we decided to buy some portions to enjoy once we got home. In case you’re wondering, The Pasta Project are not lacking in the Tiramisu department, although could we have an adult version with Kaluha or Masala in please?

We will be going back and would suggest if you’re local or just passing through that you bob in and give it whirl. We really think you’ll enjoy it.

Taste Today were invited as guests but all opinions are unbiased. We did pay for take home pizza and the Tiramisu portions.

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Photos: © Taste Today