I had never had cacio e pepe until I took my dad to Rose's Luxury for his birthday a few weeks ago. It wasn't on the menu, but the waitress brought it out complimentary to try and, as most dishes from Rose's Luxury are, it was mind-blowing. Seriously, if you're in the DC area and haven't been yet, go ASAP. Our waitress told us that Tuesdays and Wednesdays early are the best times to go to get in quickly (since they don't take reservations), but even if you have to wait, I'm convinced it's worth it. The pork lychee habanero salad sounds bizarre but is so so good, and my dad, a veal connoisseur, said theirs was the best he's ever had.
On a recent day home sick from work, this was the perfect comfort food to make when I was a) too tired to make anything difficult and b) hadn't gone grocery shopping in a week. I've seen a million variations of this, which seems insane for such a simple recipe, but I went with the always-reliable Mark Bittman (with a few changes based on what I had in my fridge). It's not much to look at, but it. is. amazing.
Cacio e Pepe
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman
- 2 cups grated parmesan (DON'T USE KRAFT - not because you're being fancy, but because it doesn't melt right)
- 2/3 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoon black pepper
- 16 oz spaghetti
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
In a large bowl, combine cheese, cold water, and pepper, mixing until it forms a paste. Cook spaghetti per box instructions, and move pasta quickly to the bowl once done, reserving pasta water. Toss pasta in cheese mixture until coated, add olive oil, and, if sauce seems too dry, slowly add pasta water until creamy (but not watery). I usually add salt to everything but the cheese makes this plenty salty without extra. Add more pepper and eat!
I also think this would be great with garlic or crushed red pepper, but start with the basics and get as crazy as you want!