“Dangerous.” That’s the word Umberto Espresso Bar’s Marco Finanzio has heard most from his customers in the opening week of Pastificio Sandro, the team’s polished new pasta shop and Italian grocer on High Street in Thornbury. Which is to say: you’ll leave with more than you bargained for.
“This has all been done before,” he says of the overarching concept, referencing Mediterranean Wholesalers and DOC Delicatessen, and mentioning Psarakos Market and Preston Market, two nearby culinary beacons. But Finanzio’s approach, putting newer grocery items alongside old-school Italian classics, makes Pastificio Sandro “a microcosm of our little community”.
The centrepiece is a skylit glass cabinet filled with all sorts of fresh handmade pasta including silky-smooth, sliced-by-hand green pappardelle and button-shaped, bursting-with-ricotta bottoni, but surrounding it are hundreds of delicious distractions.
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That includes friends of pasta (house-made sauces, herb-spiked cultured butters, lo-fi Italian wines); ready-to-eat goodness (freshly baked focaccia wheels, and focaccia sandwiches layered with the holy trinity of mortadella, stracciatella and pistachio); and a well-curated selection of pantry and fridge staples (St David Dairy milk, Spanish tinned fish and even Tom Sarafian’s trio of dips) that Finanzio says will change with local demand.
And, of course, there’s the pasta, which you can see ex-Stokehouse chef Adrian Bressanutti making through the cabinet. The main point of difference here is the use of wheat from Bellata Gold in Tamworth, which grows and mills its own durum semolina (instead of importing 00 flour from Italy, as many local pizza, pasta and bread makers do). Not only does it add a nice nuttiness, but it was important for Finanzio to support local.
The green-accented, timber-clad venue is the Umberto team’s fourth – alongside the espresso bar, summer-only rooftop Gigi and wine bar Joanie’s Baretto, all within 100 metres – further strengthening their High Street stronghold.
Pastificio Sandro’s next phase is to open for apericena, or pre-dinner snacks and wines, and for the pasta bench to turn into a chef’s table for “experimental” pasta nights.
822 High Street, Thornbury
Mon to Wed 10am–6pm
Thu & Fri 10am–8pm