Cacio e Pepe – A dish that literally translates into “cheese and pepper” was a foreign word in our culinary palate till a recent trip to Rome. A cousin of a dear friend, a Roman who we had never met picked us up at our hotel and announced that she was taking us to a Trattoria, a family run restaurant frequented only by locals.
The place “Li Scalini De Marisa” was tucked away in a residential area and was packed. Right away, our hostess insisted that a visit to Rome would be incomplete without trying Cacio e Pepe. We consented and as the dish appeared, our thoughts were, “What’s the big deal? It seems to be spaghetti with some cheese and pepper.” That was before we had our first bite. And we were in culinary heaven. The pasta cooked just right, the cheese lovingly embracing each strand with the perfect seasoning of freshly cracked pepper. Could something this simple be so divine?
Passionate about trying out recipes in my own kitchen, I thought it would be a simple task to recreate such an “easy” dish back home. But success was elusive. It did not achieve the magic of that night in Rome.
That was until we ended up in Eataly in NYC….the everything Italian can be savored under one roof concept by Batali and Bastianich. With an Italian from Milan for company, we decided to order the Cacio e Pepe, expecting it to be a far cry from our Roman experience. And Eataly did not disappoint. The Cacio e Pepe was an almost exact rendition of our Roman plate…..the pasta cooked to perfection, the cheese coating each strand perfectly and the pepper oh so freshly cracked.
As a foodie, nothing makes me happier than a great meal and the fact that I can now just head to the city any time and grab a perfect dish of Cacio e Pepe and be transported back to that magical night in Rome makes me smile.
You can savor the Cacio e Pepe in Rome at
Li Scalini De Marisa
Via Roberto De Nobili, 17
And in NYC at
200 5th Avenue
NY, NY 10010