Watch: How to cook (and eat!) the perfect pasta

Do you put olive oil in the water when boiling pasta? In this interview with Alice Harbourne, Pasta & Cuore's Stefania Ugolini explains why that's totally pointless, along with other key Italian cooking tips:



First Look: Pasta & Cuore

Back to work should mean a slower pace of life. There should be time to eat lunch with a knife and fork at a table, rather than breathlessly scoffing a sandwich on the way to the post office.

At Mt Eden's newest restaurant, Pasta & Cuore, you pretty much have to hang your watch up at the door. Time here is measured by the kneading of pasta dough and sipping of Pinot Grigio, punctuated by the noise of a working kitchen, made mellifluous thanks to a chorus of Italian voices.

Owner Stefania Ugolini's story is documented in the back of the restaurant's pretty cardboard menu. She grew up in Bologna with a mother whose life centered around cooking for the city's well-to-do at a prestigious restaurant, and a grandmother, who like most in her generation, believed cooking was an essential asset for a woman in want of a man. As a result, Ugolini began cooking pasta aged five, and has been doing so ever since, or as she puts it: "I grew up with a ball of pasta dough in my hand".

Pasta & Cuore opened in late December, and it's already doing a roaring lunchtime trade. With fresh pasta made daily in the shop window, the sell is simple: fresh ingredients, homemade pasta, and love. Cheesy, right? Well, actually, no. All you need to do is watch the video above to get a sense of Ugolini's effervescent passion for food, it's the opposite of cringeworthy.

And boy is the pasta good. On our visit we had the daily special - tortellacci alla zucca. I actually hadn't heard of tortellacci, but I'd heard of tortellini and was right in guessing this is its elder sibling. Presented in a shallow bowl were half a dozen giant pasta parcels containing silky mouthfuls of pumpkin. My partner (kindly a camera man on this occasion too!), had the gnocchi with seasonal vegetables. It was the sort of dish you could easily make quickly after work, if you were Stefania Ugolini and had mastered exquisite homemade gnocchi.

Service is a leisurely affair, so warm and friendly that you don't really mind the hours slipping by. Pasta portions are dainty enough to leave room for dessert, in this instance a panna cotta embodiment of the praise hands emoji, and rich tiramisu. We finished with a quick Kokako macchiato. And a chat, and a stare at the rolling and stretching and flattening of pasta dough. We left the leafy, suntrap of a courtyard with a Ciao! Arrivederci! and were shocked when we saw the InnerLink bus outside - we thought we were in Italy, for a moment.

Pasta & Cuore
409 Mount Eden Rd
Mount Eden
Auckland
pastaecuore.co.nz