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Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe

I have a really terrible memory. When I’m introduced to new people, their names fly in one ear and straight out the other. I can’t remember what classes I took in college. And I often find myself wandering the aisles of Rite Aid wondering what I needed that brought me there in the first place.

Yet, I can recall almost every single restaurant I’ve ever been to. And I eat out a lot. I couldn’t tell you where the restaurant was located or when it was that I ate there, but I could recount exactly what I had and why I liked it (or didn’t.)

So when the conversation at a recent cocktail party turned to a meal that included pasta mixed in a giant wheel of cheese, a lightbulb went off. My friends Jon and Julie and I dined at an Italian restaurant that had a dish like that … maybe four, or was it five years ago?

Of course I couldn’t remember the name. Luckily for me, Jon isn’t nearly as memory-challenged. He provided the address and Dave and I were off to Cacio e Pepe for dinner.

The restaurant’s signature offering — Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe — was even better than I remembered. It’s a typical Roman dish using tonnarelli pasta, like a square spaghetti, tossed in pecorino with black peppercorns.

What’s fun is that the waiter does the tossing table-side:

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe Being Tossed

Then scoops it all right onto your plate:

A little bit of drama, a lot of cheese, and I’m one happy girl.

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe

The pasta was perfectly al dente, with the rich and salty cheese offset by the spiciness of a generous amount of black pepper.

It was gone in mere minutes.

You don’t have to have a giant wheel of pecorino to recreate this dish at home (though it would certainly be handy.) Click here for a really simple 15-minute recipe from Food & Wine.

Cacio e Pepe, 182 Second Avenue, 212-505-5931