“Life is about exploring all the pastabilities!”
Tirana’s culinary scene is like a “Little Italy” with its ubiquitous restaurants serving up delicious Italian fare that rivals the quality of that which can be found across the Adriatic Sea. Many of Tirana’s population lived and worked in Italy for over a decade and now many have returned to share their foreign-developed skills in their homeland. This has resulted in authentic, locally run businesses offering incredible food at significantly lower prices than its European neighbours.
With so much choice available, it can be hard to find the best offerings. After years and years of dining out across this cosmopolitan capital, here are HaPiTirana’s top 10 picks for pasta lovers in Tirana. Take the order with a grain of salt – these are all great options for those who are craving the noodle!
Have you tried any of these establishments? Is your favourite pasta place listed below? Feel free to drop a comment with your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations!
Interested in a particular restaurant? Click its name to find out more!
This should come as no shock considering my review of Fraterie, but this pasta is literally so shockingly good it could make an atheist believe there really is a God. From the first bite of the delicious capeletti with chicken on my ‘tris pasta’ plate, I had a spiritual pasta awakening. Even the truffle/mushroom pasta was incredibly good – and I seriously can’t stand mushrooms! Oh, and their desserts are just divine, too. From the outside, the place doesn’t look like anything special, but this is definitely a case of don’t judge a book by its cover. The inside dining area is beautifully designed and the ambiance of the restaurant is suitable for families, couples and work meetings alike. Add in that the prices are completely reasonable and you have a great restaurant that is well-deserving of the top spot on this list!
When Pastaria opened about five or six years ago, it was an instant hit with the local population – and for good reason! Although they are 100% dedicated to serving pasta, pasta and more pasta, the menu is so extensive that you can be sure everyone in your dining party will find something to their tastes. Just pick your pasta type, choose your sauce (categorised by colour) and enjoy! Prices are seriously good value (most range from 300-600 leke), majorly contributing to it’s high positioning on this list. They’ve expanded to three venues across Tirana and just recently announced that a new location in town will be opening this year. Great service, great value, great taste – an all around GREAT restaurant!
One day when I was on my way to try a particular restaurant I’d had in mind for a while, I stumbled across this absolute gem! L’Osteria is BEAMING with curbside appeal, simply oozing cuteness on to the street. I was drawn like a moth to the flame, but it wasn’t a trick or a trap this time! Oh no, what I walked into is one of the cutest restaurants I had ever seen. This is definitely a perfect “date night” location. Oh and, of course, not only is the place delightful, but their fresh pasta is AMAZING! Some friends of mine went for Valentine’s Day and they were SO pleased with their experience, they had to write to me specifically to tell me and let me know that they will definitely be repeat customers. Feel free to shoot me a message with the same once you’ve had your experience there 😉
Now we head into ‘Pasta Row’ – an area of Tirana e Re that happens to host a large number of the best pasta restaurants in town. The next four restaurants are all located in ‘Pasta Row’!
I’m really splitting spaghetti over the order these restaurants are in, so take the numbers with a grain of salt and if you’re in the mood for pasta consider just wandering over to this neighbourhood and parking your bottom in whichever of these recommendations you find first – you won’t be disappointed. PaPirunj is one of my favourites in the area because of its large, open dining areas. This place is great to go with a group of friends. They have other options, but pasta is the star of the show here. The business is run by a local man spent years working at nearby pastarias before opening his own enterprise – and he’s done a great job! Gotta love supporting the local entrepeneurs!
Cute, cozy and quaint are the three words that immediately come to mind when I think of Terracotta. Another locally owned and operated business, don’t expect to sit and and peruse a menu here! Instead, let the owner enthusiastically and passionately explain his daily creations in order to make your choice. The daily menu ensures that only the freshest ingredients are used in these artisinal pasta dishes for the most delicious tasting offerings. A popular restaurant with only four tables, this intimate restaurant gives off quite an exclusive vibe. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to enjoy the wood fireplace on a cold winter’s day!
This long-standing establishment has been popping up in “Best Pasta” discussions since my first visit to Albania back in 2014. Despite having moved locations a number of times, one thing has remained consistent – they deliver on their promise of delectable freshly made pasta to suit all tastebuds and styles. Whilst they are technically a little out of ‘Pasta Row’ as of their recent move, they were originally well within its boundaries and still very close, so I’m counting it. The chef here is a genuine Italian, which of course makes it a favourite for Italian expats and tourists!
7. Pasta Da Pucci
The original in ‘Pasta Row’, Pasta Da Pucci is still my number one pick in the area for couples looking for a romantic evening. The menu also changes regularly here, although there is a more stagnant listing of staples such as salads and appetizers. The menu also includes main plates and desserts, but certainly their pasta is the star of the show – oh and perhaps the delicious salad with strawberries! This restaurant is located underground and is quite large, though split into different ‘rooms’ so-to-speak, giving it a really intimate vibe. Be aware – you’re phone might not get reception down here! (Phone addicts, don’t fret! They do have wifi!)
8. Gastro Organic
One of my favourite types of pasta linguine with prawns and zucchini and this is pretty much my “go-to” when trying a new pasta restaurant as it allows me to set a kind of baseline in order to judge upon. Gastro Oragnic knocked it out of the park! Located in my old stomping ground of 21-Dhjetori, this restaurant is totally unique for the area and by far one of the best restaurants around. In fact, I even chose it as the destination for my own birthday dinner! The family who run the place are super sweet and the service provided is excellent. Whether you live in the neighbourhood or want to explore a new area, Gastro Organic won’t disappoint.
9. A La Santé
If I am being truly honest this place probably deserves to be MUCH higher on this list, but I at there so often for so many years because I loved it so much that I kind of overdid it. As a result, more recently it has undeservedly dropped off my radar a little bit. The chef here has literally PERFECTED portion sizes into an absolute artform. At first you may think your plate looks a little light, but what you have been served is the exact amount to ensure you feel satiated without that heavy, bloated, full feeling – allowing you to culminate your dining experience with one of their delicious desserts.
10. Fresh Garden
Rounding out the top 10 is one of Blloku’s favourite lunch spots, Fresh Garden Restaurant. This is part of the Fresh Garden family of businesses which are focussed on providing fresh, organic food and ingredients. The restaurant is set above their supermarket, providing a nice terrace as well as an indoor dining area.The serve up delicious pasta and the best part is the prices – INCREDIBLE value! The menu changes regularly, but pasta dishes will set you back between 390 and 550 leke. I really love the decor as well, with lots of green working well with the whole ‘nature/organic’ vibe.