Cacio e pepe is made with pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper, along with starchy pasta water, which creates a creamy sauce. The classic recipe uses tonnarelli pasta. You’ll see cacio e pepe on nearly every Roman menu, but we list the best the city has to offer.
Da Felice in Testaccio is the most famous old-school restaurant for cacio e pepe. Serving up classic Roman dishes since 1936, it’s an institution in the city and beloved by locals for its hearty, honest fare. Actor Roberto Benigni was a fan of Felice, the restaurant’s original owner, and is just one of the restaurant’s well-known patrons. The draw of the cacio e pepe here is that the waiter whips up this dish in front of you, tossing the pasta at your plate with an adept hand ensuring the ingredients are combined to perfection.
Da Felice, Via Mastro Giorgio 29, Rome, Italy, +39 06 574 6800
Flavio al Velavevodetto
Flavio al Velavevodetto never disappoints. Chef De Maio originally worked at iconic restaurant Da Felice meaning he learned from the best and has since shifted his expertise to this restaurant which means “Flavio, I told you so”. Built upon Monte Testaccio, a man-made hill comprised of discarded amphora, the restaurant has a main dining area with plenty of outdoor seating on two patios. Everything on the menu is fantastic and the cacio e pepe is well-balanced and creamy.
Flavio al Velavevodetto, Via di Monte Testaccio 97, Rome, Italy, +39 06 574 4194
To sample this decadent variation in a less touristy setting, head to Officine Beat. Located in the thriving student neighborhood of San Lorenzo, this restaurant has a hip vibe, cool furniture, a great beer list and a tasty menu. You’ll only hear Italian spoken at this restaurant which is a local go-to on weekend nights.
Officine Beat, Via degli Equi 29, Rome, Italy, +39 06 9521 8779
Da Cesare Al Casaletto
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Da Cesare Al Casaletto
This simple Roman trattoria is well loved by locals for its quality dishes and down-to-earth-service. Often touted as a favorite among Rome’s food bloggers, it excels at all typical dishes, including cacio e pepe as well as the other classic Roman pastas. You’ll also find an intriguing variation on the appetizer menu: deep-fried gnocchi served on a bed of cacio e pepe.
Da Cesare Al Casaletto, Via del Casaletto 45, Rome, Italy, + 39 06 53 6015
Sforno, located in southern Rome near the Cinecittà studios, is worth the trek to try one of Rome’s best Neapolitan pizzas. It is doubly-worth the trek to taste its cacio e pepe pizza. You’d be wise to share this salty pie, which is topped by a healthy dose of grated pecorino cheese and served with its own black pepper mill. The secret to achieving this perfectly cooked pizza lies in some simple chemistry: the dough is first baked with ice to ensure the center stays soft and moist and then topped by pecorino for the final minutes of cooking.
Sforno, Via Statilio Ottato 110/116, Rome, Italy, +39 06 7154 6118