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Looking for authentic Cacio e pepe in Bay Area

  • z

Looking for restaurants serving good cacio e pepe in the Bay Area. We were recently in Rome, and couldn't get enough of this simple yet awesome pasta. Any recommendations?
Thanks in advance.

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  1. I haven't tried it, but I've heard that Tosca Cafe in SF serves it and that it's good.

    1. Wouldn't this be pretty easy to make yourself with some high quality ingredients or are you seeking the restaurant experience?

      1. A serious suggestion, zara:

        Get ahold of the little paperback cookbook "The Romagnolis' Table." It is one of my most-consulted cookbooks in the working collection (kept near the kitchen), and has been ubiquitous in Bay Area used bookstores for 40 years. You could probably order it used via Amazon for basically cost of postage.

        The Romagnolis were the PBS TV counterpart to Julia Child, but for Italian regional cooking. They were contemporary with Marcella Hazan, and likely better known than she in the 1970s.

        Early chapters include a panorama of classic regional pasta specialties and this one is prominent -- maybe the simplest pasta recipe in the book. You can also extend it in various directions, such as the remakably satisfying spaghetti al guanciale, also detailed in Romangolis. (The Cooks Illustrated Pasta-and-Noodles book, which is much more recent, also explores the idea of these "peppery" pasta variations systematically, but credit is due the Romagnolis for earlier popularizing them in the US.) Such dishes are old stand-bys at my home.

        You can get a variety of Pecorino Romano cheeses (both the light "fresh" and the peppery "aged" types) at A G Ferrari, independent cheese chops, and nowadays probably Whole Foods.

        (I didn't actually realize this specialty was not commonly known and home-made in the US until I started seeing online queries about it in recent years.)

        10 Replies
        1. re: eatzalot

          Evil you :) I just ordered this through Amazon :) Sincerely, thanks.

          1. re: c oliver

            I can't tell you how many worthy-looking cookbooks I had acquired as of 30 years ago that mostly gather dust; the Romagnolis' belongs to the small, select group that don't, and the remarkable thing is, the ones most durably useful -- many have surfaced in other CH threads -- often are dirt-cheap on the online used market. Vastly cheaper than the latest new fashionable high-concept or celebrity-chef cookbook that will prove to gather dust on many other shelves in the next 30 years.

            1. re: eatzalot

              Yep, this one is used and with shipping was about $7. I've gotten some amazing cookbooks used. A couple were purged library books in like-new condition.

              1. re: c oliver

                $3.87 including shipping for a hardback in good condition on abebooks.com, a site that aggregates thousands of independent bookstores.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  "$3.87 including shipping for a hardback in good condition on abebooks.com, a site that aggregates thousands of independent bookstores."

                  This isn't a thread on used-book sources, but as I've seen that market evolve in 30 years from needing Wanted ads in a trade weekly, to specialized online clearing-house dealers (alibris and A.B.E. books already mentioned) -- which I still use occasionally for rare titles -- to Amazon "Marketplace," which likewise aggregates many, MANY thousands of dealers and mom-and-pop book collections, today I generally start with Amazon for common titles like this one.

                  Amazon (in clearinghouse role linking sellers and buyers) currently lists multiple copies of the Romagnolis starting at a few cents. Which is typical for such titles. (As compared, say, with the original edition I got once of an epic 1800s European classic which required negotiating directly with the dealer in Spain, not to mention checking their references for reliability...)

                  1. re: eatzalot

                    Amazon starts at $4.37 including shipping.

                    abebooks.com almost always beats them. I think it's many of the same vendors but minus Amazon's charges.

              2. re: eatzalot

                I JUST received this a couple of days ago. Had forgotten I ordered. Looking forward to it. Thanks again.

            2. re: eatzalot

              "The Romagnoli's Table" is a book worth having. I bought mine at a used book store in Winterhaven FL about 30 years ago for $4 after watching the PBS series. The book was in a LOT better shape back then. The Gnocchi Verde recipe never fails to please. A pleasant change from the typical potato offering.
              Another great success was the Rolled Breast of Veal which I boned myself. This was early in my cooking "career" and I was quite proud of myself.
              The intro to the Cacio E Pepe recipe states, "This recipe needs no saucepan. It doesn't need a serving dish either, as it should be mixed on individual plates, as the Romans do. Each person can then mix his own sauce and decide on the amount of pepper to his taste".

               
              1. re: grampart

                I didn't see the "America's Test Kitchen" show last year that jcg cited, but can't help wondering if that episode mentioned either (a) that it was rehashing a dish popularized 40 years ealier by the hosts of another TV cooking series on PBS, or (b) that in the 2000 "Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles" from Cook's Illustrated, the dish is called only "Spaghetti with Pecorino and Black Pepper," no mention anywhere of Italian regional origin or name.

                1. re: eatzalot

                  The host had recently traveled through Italy and he mentioned how popular the dish is there and that almost every restaurant has it on the menu (or at least the region he was in). Remember Cook's Illustrated is just the magazine for America's Test Kitchen / Cook's Country as they are all basically the same company (see link). The show I watched gave the real name and the American translation.

                  http://www.cooksillustrated.com/about-us

              1. It's such a simple dish that any Italian restaurant that uses pecorino could make it for you on request. You do not need a cookbook to toss pasta with butter and add grated cheese and pepper.

                Cupola, 54 Mint, Chiaroscuro, and Locanda have it on their menus. Cinecitta and Ideale are owned by Romans and I'd be surprised if they would not make it.