Onda: a 'new wave' pasta kitchen is moving into Exhibition

Are you ready for sharing lasagne Sundays, pici cacio e pepe and lumache alla vodka?

By Kelly Bishop | 29 March 2023

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From the teams behind Lizzo-approved Manchester brand Gooey and elevated pizza pop up Rise, comes the newest addition to Exhibition on Peter Street, Onda – a modern pasta kitchen.

While Gooey is a familiar name on many Manchester foodie’s lists, Rise has been a bit more of a cult underground hit. If you’re not familiar with the brand or its owner Sam Astley Dean, then here’s a potted history that might whet your appetite for his fresh new project. 

A Manchester lad, Sam grew up in Stockport and has been cooking since he was 17. At 19 he applied to all the nearest Michelin star places to his family home and ended up working at Chester Grosvenor for three years. He then went on to work for Simon Rogan at Fera in Claridges, Chez Bruce, and with Phil Howard at Elystan Street (all of which had a star) before heading back up to Manchester when his daughter was born. 

Chef Sam Astley Dean from Onda pasta at Exhibition. Image: Manchester’s Finest

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do next really,” says Sam as we catch up for a chat about his new project, “It was always that dichotomy. I loved the skill and the craft but I wanted to do something more approachable that could allow a bit more balance in life. That’s how Rise came about. When it came to a natural end, Paddy [from Eat MCR/ Gooey] reached out and said he wanted to do a high end pasta brand. I bit his hand off. It was exactly what I wanted to do.”

A new wave pasta kitchen

The new pasta place will be moving into Exhibition in the spot recently vacated by Brazilian chef Caroline Martins. Onda means wave in Italian and so it will be a ”new wave” pasta kitchen broadly inspired by Sam’s time spent flitting around Italy. While he doesn’t have any Italian roots himself, he calls the country his “spiritual home” and says its “soul nourishing” cuisine is by far his favourite. 

“At the end of the day, it is just pasta,” says Sam, “We want it to be super approachable. It’s for everyone. Yes we’re using great ingredients and yes, there’s some skill behind it. But ultimately, it’s all the stuff you want to see on an Italian menu. And it’s all delicious.”

Spaghetti carbonara from Onda pasta at Exhibition. Image: Manchester’s Finest

Manchester already has some great places for pasta. How is Onda going to be different? The plates will be smaller, for a start, designed for sharing, and while Sam gives props to both Sud (formerly Sugo) and The Sparrows, he is taking a good glug of inspiration from Padella in Borough Market, London. He reckons there’s nothing like it up here.

Pasta and bread will be made fresh using Wildfarmed flour – a sustainable British grain focused brand that’s popping up everywhere at the moment, as it should be. Other ingredients will be sourced from the likes of Organic North and Natoora. There will be semolina from Molino Passini and bright green Capezzana extra virgin olive oil. The care and attention to these basic ingredients results in dishes that you will really want to eat.

What’s on the menu at Onda then?

In Sam’s words: “Delicious, comforting, well-executed things.” There will be a core offering of six small pasta plates designed to mix and match with mates, ideal for the communal eating space of Exhibition. There will be pici cacio e pepe – a signature Padella dish – the simplest of Italian pasta dressings served over pici (think spaghetti in a sumo suit), and a wild garlic pesto cavatelli. There will be fishy faves in the form of fettuccine alla vongole and a hefty scallop and crab raviolo served on a creamy bisque. Then there are the people’s champions: spaghetti carbonara and a rich beef cheek pappardelle. 

Lumache alla vodka to share from Onda pasta at Exhibition. Image: Manchester’s Finest

These six small plates will be permanent fixtures on the menu and there will also be two bigger sharing plates for tea: a gnocchi gratinate which Sam says is “similar in vibe to a spinach and ricotta cannelloni” made with potato gnocchi drenched in parmesan béchamel with “loads of spinach” and a crunchy pangrattato topping. The second of these uses lumache, the Piedmontese shell-shaped pasta that has recently seem a huge rise in popularity in New York, and Black Cow vodka for a modern view on the classic penne alla vodka. Sundays are lasagne days with two types on offer, the classic lasagne al forno and lasagne bianco – cacio e pepe in lasagne form.

Scallop and crab raviolo from Onda pasta at Exhibition. Image: Manchester’s Finest

Sides/starters will include a house made foccacia, roasted garlic and parsley baguettes, whole burrata, caesar salad, and seasonally changing fritti (think organic spring onions with watercress lemon and chilli). Desserts will be tiramisu and house made gelato rippled with seasonal fruits like blood orange and rhubarb. Other seasonally changing chalkboard specials will be added eventually. A £10 lunch deal includes pici cacio e pepe with a wedge of focaccia and some dressed leaves. 

On joining the current offering at Exhibition, Sam is full of enthusiasm, “They’re a really nice bunch. All the guys who work for Exhibition and the owners, and then the Baratxuri lot and the Osma lot. It’s a really, really nice group of people.”

We’re excited about this one.

Onda opens in Exhibition on Wednesday 29 March.

Exhibition is open Wed – Sun from 12pm till late, with the kitchens open until 9pm every evening.

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