Cacio e Pepe is one of the classic dishes of Rome.
Cacio is Roman for cheese; Pepe is Italian for black pepper.
There is a place, just outside of Rome, on the road towards Ostia (Rome's seaside), called Cacio e Pe...sce! It is a mom and pop's place nestled in an area that doesn't seem to be ideal for a restaurant, but it is.
It's a residential area, with locals having lived there for generations. It's a blue-collar area with simple family homes that began as large villas for two, gradually split into smaller and smaller living quarters as the families grew. Generations of the same family end up living in the same homes as time goes by, giving this neighborhood a sense of community with not much outside tourism. I have a personal connection to this neighborhood. My godfather and his family live, and I visit every time I return home <3
Its why I want to make a stop here. For you to see another side of Rome. For you to experience absolutely delicious hand made dished, outside of the busy and at times overpriced, tourist places. Its a welcome change to the busy hustle that is Roma Centro (the center of Rome). My experience at Cacio e Pe...sce! was outstanding! I was introduced to it by my godfather and his wife and immediately added it to my growing list of places to take my Divora Roma culinary adventure seekers to.
The owners are excited to welcome us back, and he aways with open arms.
Classic Cacio e Pepe recipe:
- Spaghetti (high quality pasta make for the best dish: Barilla or DeCecco come to mind)
- About 200 grams of Pecorino Romano (get the Italian import for the REAL Italian taste)
- Black pepper (grade it fresh onto the dish, don't get pre-graded pepper...)
- Salt for the boiling pasta water (ALWAYS salt the water)
- Make sure the water is salted abundantly and bring to boil
- Cook the whole pack of spaghetti to al dente (it'll say on the box how much time that is)
- Drain pasta (but keep some of the pasta water aside, half a cup or so)
- Put drained pasta back in the empty pot and add that pasta water to it
- Grade the Pecorino Romano onto the pasta by hand, while the pasta is still hot
- Use a fork or tongs to gently fold the spaghetti so they are fully coated (it should look thick)
- Freshly grind black pepper to taste on top of it all (be generous with this, it's part of the dish)
Serve alone on a pasta dish and Buon Appetito!
The pescetarian, modified Cacio e Pe...sce! recipe is:
- Same ingredients as the classic Cacio e Pepe above
- Half a pound of fresh prawns
- Perform steps 1 & 2 above
- While the spaghetti is boiling away, in a shallow pan, heat extra virgin olive oil and sauté the prawns (I recommend with shell on for maximum flavor)
- When cooked, set aside while you continue with steps 3 & 4
- Add the prawns to the pasta
- Proceed to steps 5, 6 & 7
A delicious variation on the classic Roman dish!
** Be sure to visit Cacio e Pe...sce!'s Facebook page for more information on their cuisine **