The last leg of our honeymoon a couple summers ago was spent in Rome, where I ordered cacio e pepe—pasta mixed with pecorino and cracked black pepper—every chance I got. It’s a Roman classic, and the superlative example is served at Ditirambo, near the Campo de Fiore. But it is also also a blasphemous version in that it uses goat cheese instead of the traditional pecorino. Ditirambo serves its cacio e pepe with tonnarelli pasta, sort of like a square spaghetti, which I’ve had trouble finding back here so in a pinch I’ll substitute a fat linguine. While the tanginess of the goat cheese is inspired in this dish, I still love the saltiness of pecorino, so I’ve split the difference and have arrived at the following.
The Foodinista’s Cacio e Pepe
Serves 4 as a main course
17.5 ounces tonnarelli or linguini pasta
1 1/2 cups grated pecorino (or more to taste)
2 ounces goat cheese
3/4 cup reserved pasta water
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salt the hell out of boiling water, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 cup water. Return to pot and add pecorino, goat cheese, 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, and cracked black pepper to taste. (Add additional water if mixture seems dry.) Toss well to melt cheese. Serve with a dry white Italian wine, such as orvieto. I love the 2007 Salviano Orvieto, available at K&L in Hollywood for $12.99.