Chances are good, if you’re a Tourist in Rome, you’re going to spend some time checking out the Colosseum, the Forum, the building shaped like a Wedding Cake. Chances are also good, you’re going to work up an appetite. When in Rome… Cacio e Pepe is a must.
What is Cacio e Pepe?
Cacio e Pepe is modern Roman pasta dish. Cacio e Pepe translates simply enough to cheese and pepper, so guessing what’s in the dish is a bit of a no brainer. Here’s the hitch though, what makes Cacio e Pepe so special is the preparation. You know those giant wheels of Pecorino and Parmesan cheese Italians are famous for? With Cacio e Pepe pasta, those wheels are crucial not for grating, but for swirling.
Imagine a giant wheel of Pecorino cheese with a heaping mount of pasta melting down the middle of it. Then imagine a good helping of freshly cracked black pepper being added before that mound of pasta is stirred until a swirled nest of perfectly cheesy pasta of lifted out. That’s Cacio e Pepe. Just pasta, cheese and pepper and it’s mouthwateringly good.
Cacio e Pepe Proper Pronounciation
Cacio e Pepe is pronounced phonetically as [kaˈtʃo e ˈpeːpe]. If you’re anything like me, these little phonetic guides are like alphabet soup. I prefer hearing rather than reading for pronunciation. Just in case you’re like me on this one, here’s a quick video I found to help.
Where to Eat Cacio e Pepe in Rome
Luckily, there is a restaurant just 15 minutes walk from the heart of the Tourist Buzz, that Romans recommend. Bello had fond memories of the food from La Salumeria Roscioli while he lived in Rome nearly 10 years ago. When we arrived I could instantly see why.
It’s easy to miss, the door being inconspicuous labeled and what appears to be a local Roman deli counter immediately inside the door. We actually walked right by it ourselves despite know what we were looking for. Stepping back and opening that door, represented my favorite dining experience in Rome.
Once inside, the to the left is a Deli Counter maned by four handsome young Romans who smile quickly before return to their preparations of world class meats, cheeses and charcuterie. To the right, round Bistro style tables sit snug against the wall, decked out with young attractive Italian couples.
Walking back just a few more steps reveals a curved bar on the left and shelves of decedent oils, vinegars and jars of various other tasty treats to the right. True to form, Bello and I opted for the bar over a table in the back.
This was our final meal in Rome and I had one thing on my mind Cacio e Pepe. I could not leave without indulging in this classic Roman Pasta.
At La Salumeria Roscioli there were several things that made me absolutely fall in love with our dining experience. First, we and were treated by staff with the kindness usually reserved for locals, who happened to be sitting right beside us, engaging in friendly banter. Second, the wine list was strong, affordable and included great local options. We ordered up our perfectly lovely bottle of Olevano Romano Cesanese Superiore ‘Silene’ ‘14, Damiano Ciolli for the grand total of 20€.
Third, almost as quickly as our wine was opened, fresh fluffy light as air Ricotta and some seriously and I mean seriously good, house made bread magically arrived… on the house. I know! I could have stopped here but,
it just kept getting better. On to the food we ordered! Fourth, a Charcuterie and Cheese plate that left us beyond satisfied with traditional local preparations and a few new twists like Mortadella with Truffle which is sinfully good and…
Lardo so tasty bad you need to head to the Vatican and confess after eating it all!
Best yet, the fifth reason I fell in love with La Salumeria Roscioli, the Cacio e Pepe. So perfectly simple, so close your eyes and taste it good, the Gods must have dined on this. Umami meets a slight salty, flavor focus on high quality Pecorino Romano cheese, with a sharp pleasing black pepper bite. Roman God was it good.
That was it, I was convinced this was my favorite experience in all of Rome. What can I say I’m a Foodie that loves to travel, not a Historian.
Then, the I swear to you, Barry White started singing and I saw this. There’s nothin’ wrong with me, lovin’ you. Giving yourself to me, could never be wrong, if the chocolate is melty-gooey!
Yeah, there it was, the unexpected seventh reason I recommend taking the few minutes walk away from the Wedding Cake building to find La Salumeria Roscioli, free Chocolate Dessert!