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Salt Your Water

Tasting Rome (and Cacio e Pepe) at Lou Wine Shop

Tasting Rome (and Cacio e Pepe) at Lou Wine Shop

I think dining in Rome is a lot like dining in LA: food is ingredient driven, and while there are some incredibly beautiful high-end restaurants, some of your most memorable meals will be eaten at the Italian version of a formica table at some strip mall noodle shop. But finding these restaurants is hard without a local guide, and it's why I wish I had author Katie Parla in my pocket when I honeymooned in Rome. If I had, I'd have found Roman Trattoria Cesare al Casaletto and fulfilled my dream of luxuriating in a fabulous version one of my favorite Roman dishes: Cacio e Pepe.

Fortunately for me, and any other fan of Roman cooking, Katie recently published Tasting Rome, which includes a riff on the Cacio e Pepe from Cesare al Casaletto that's incredibly easy to execute, among other favorites and lesser known dishes from the Eternal City.

Katie will be selling and signing her book at Lou Wine Shop in Los Feliz on Tuesday, May 10 from 6-10 p.m., and I'll be cooking up batches of the Cacio e Pepe. And of course, since this is Lou, there will be fabulously surprising wines from Lazio to enjoy too! RSVP here.

If you can't make it, here's the recipe to give it a whirl at home. Note: I used Semolina Rigatoni, and it was spectacular.

cacio e pepe di leonardo vignoli

Sea salt

1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli 

2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper and a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste.

When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and obtain a juicy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted from Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City. Copyright © 2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers,  an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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