I didn’t understand all the hype about the Roman staple pasta dish – Cacio e Pepe – until I tried it at Roma Sparita.
There is no shortage of articles and reviews written on the virtues of cacio e pepe. Since the main ingredients are Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper, I assumed it would be a slam dunk. However, the two lackluster versions I tried when I first arrived in Rome were inedible (and didn’t earn any presentation points either).
Recently, a friend told me that I simply hadn’t tried the best yet and needed to give the Cacio e Pepe at Roma Sparita a shot – and boy was she right! As noted in this New York Times article, I wasn’t the only one fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients. It turns out, the deceptively simple dish requires some skilled preparation.
You may recognize the name Roma Sparita from an Anthony Bourdain “No Reservations” special on Rome. A word of caution though, the Bourdain recommendation has put the restaurant (located in a cute little square in the equally popular Trastevere) on the tourist map.
Not to fear though, the restaurant remains a local favorite for a menu that goes well beyond Cacio e Pepe. Reservations are a must though.
A big Roman family party shared the upper dining area with our group the night we visited. Despite the crowd, the service was impeccable.
The interior is filled with shabby chic furniture and pottery displayed throughout.
Our server was a bit disappointed that all but one member of our party ordered Cacio e Pepe for the entree. Can you blame us though?
The portion size at Roma Sparita is spot on given the richness of the pasta and sauce. The presentation is also beautiful with each entree served in individual freshly made pecorino cheese bowls.
All of the dishes presented by the kitchen were excellent. Artichokes were in season and available in a variety of preparations, including a pasta entree with Pecorino Romano.
I tried the Carcofio alla Guida appetizer, which was fried in the old Jewish style. The artichoke tips tasted a bit like chips. If the entrees were any bigger there would have been no room for dessert.
I tried the Italian style cheesecake, which was made with a ricotta base and had lighter taste compared to New York style cheesecake. Are there any other contenders for the best cacio e pepe title in Rome? Roma Sparita Piazza Santa Cecilia 24
Trastevere +39 06 5800757 Closed on Mondays.