Italian cuisine is a mainstay in any major city across the globe and Nairobi is no different. The world has fallen in love with noodles and all of their derivatives: from spaghetti, to penne, farfalle to rigatoni, or the more adventurous stuffed ravioli and tortellini. Served with a hearty bolognese, a nutty pesto or a creamy carbonara, there is a delicious pasta dish for all palates.
We explore 10 of Nairobi’s great pasta offerings from authentic Italian eateries to continental restaurants with delicious pizzas and pastas. Whether you’re looking for a quick food court meal or a fine dining experience to impress that special someone, there’s a Nairobi restaurant for all of your needs and wants.
Sundowners at the Oval, lunch at Village Market, breakfast in Karen: Artcaffe’s many outlets have something for everyone. This is a tried and tested Nairobi establishment and its reputation for outstanding quality and understated charm and style precedes it. If you have never tried any of the offerings from the “I Love Pasta” section you are definitely in for a treat: novelty dishes like the delicious Linguine Dhania sit side by side with popular favourites like Art Pesto with chicken and Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna. Their pizzas also live up to their reputation with Pizza Roma, with its grilled eggplant and parma ham, a popular favourite amongst the restaurant’s Italian clientele.
Derived from the original 18th century French word ’bonhomie’ meaning ‘good fellow’, this is a restaurant that offers a warm and friendly atmosphere from its good-natured service to the tantalizing array of contemporary Continental dishes. In a vibrant, light and airy al fresco atmosphere, guests are sure to feel at home with family and friends. Try the Oven Baked Bologna for a melt-in-your-mouth dish made with hand chopped beef, red wine and cream sauce. Pair the dish with a glass of red wine from their menu and you’ll be sure to have a great time with friends or family.
Oozing with easy charm and beautifully light ambiance, La Dolce Vita has always been a favourite with the Italian community in Nairobi. Its menu strives to balance the traditional with the modern, combining Italian classics like crab fettuccine with ingredients like dill that bring out the flavour in new and unexpected ways. For years this was the only place in Nairobi to get a decent pizza and their Margherita is arguably still the best in town. Come here for dinner with a loved one and gaze in each other’s eyes over a glass of ruby red full-bodied Italian wine.
Set on the top floor of Kempinski, one of the most majestic hotels in Nairobi, this is the place to make an impression. With a bright and airy patio and traditional Italian interiors, this is trattoria style dining which is both simple and incredibly sophisticated. Their egg Fettuccine al Ragu is the closest thing to an authentic Bolognese sauce you’ll get outside of Italy, the complimentary focaccia never fails to get mouths watering, the Linguine con Gamberi e Zucchine Profumate is bursting with flavour and if you still have space left over make sure you taste their tiramisu!
Mouthwatering pizzas, steaming plates of delicious pasta and exciting Italian mains… Mambo Italia successfully caters to even the most difficult to please palates. Have a light business lunch or make it a fun night out as you tuck into their sharing platters with your friends and family. The branch at Lavington Curve offers some of the best views of Nairobi and its Garden City mall outlet has lost none of the original restaurant’s eclectic appeal. Decorated with reclaimed dhow furniture, Mambo Italia is a place where you can feast all your senses. Still hungry? One nutella pizza coming up!
Mediterraneo was the winner of the “Best Italian Restaurant” at 2015 Taste Awards and it is not hard to see why. Each of its three outlets successfully recreate a little slice of Italy. Whether you are relaxing in the classically inspired garden of its Gigiri branch, sitting underneath the vespa motorbike that hangs on a wall above the mosaiced pizza oven at 9West, or taking a bite at its rustic Junction outlet, you cannot but feel that you are experiencing a slice of Italy like no other. The extensive menu offers a glimpse of the different cuisines the Italian peninsula has to offer.
Think that Pomodoro at Village Market only makes Nairobi’s most delicious Roman style Pizza al taglio? Well you were wrong. For years the owners Fausto and Lorenza Trufelli have strived to bring a taste of Rome to their customers by preparing pasta dishes made just like they are back home. Their specials menu changes daily with their ricotta ravioli a definite favourite. Some argue that this is the best value for money establishment in the Village Market food court. Whatever the case, they do an excellent job at serving good, simple and honest food that does exactly what it says on the package.
Step into Sale e Pepe, set on the ground floor of central Nairobi’s Hilton Hotel, and you would be forgiven for thinking this is the Italy we see in films. The checked tablecloths, the wooden chairs, the terracotta tiling, all it’s missing is those bottles of Chianti wine, the ones with the round bottom that sit in a straw basket, sitting on each table with a candle stuck in for good measure. The no frills menu strives to remain authentic and offers up only the most classic of Italian dishes. Try their Penne alla Genovese, it really is as good as they say.
Established in 1981, Trattoria is the oldest family run Italian restaurant in Nairobi.From Mamma’s Ruffos home made pasta to the home made ice cream, the menu abounds in specialities from the south of Italy, Rome, Tuscany, Piemonte and Veneto. Trattoria uses only the freshest produce, accompanied by their selection of Italian Wines. Trattoria’s Spaghetti con Polpa di Granchio e Zenzero was inspired by local ingredients when they first created the dish. With a little bit of fusion flair, this pasta dish has evolved into something truly unique and bursts with character and flavour.
360 Degrees Pizza got its name from the wood burning pizza ovens which cook their authentic Neapolitan pizzas at a precise 360 degrees Celcius. Their famed pizzas are served in an upscale casual dining setting great for friends or a fun date night. Don’t be fooled by their name, however, 360 Degrees Pizza also serves a selection of pastas, salads, meats and brunch on weekends. Try their homemade Spinach Tagliatelle with Lemon Chicken tossed with sundried tomatoes and snow peas for a healthy, colourful dish enjoyable at any time of year.