During our stay in Rome last year, my wife and I both developed a taste for the traditional Roman pasta dish of cacio e pepe. A totally basic dish of cheese and cracked pepper, it is served with some sort of spaghetti. And when it is done well, it is usually as delicious as it is simple.
On Sunday night, while visiting friends in Seattle, we ate at the Capitol Hill Italian restaurant Rione XIII. We shared a number of dishes, including an appetizer made with morels that was scrumptuous. But the hit of the night, in my mind, was the cacio e pepe, which was served with tonarelli pasta. With our server — who happened to be my friend Leslie Kelly's daughter Claire Nelson — blending the cheese and pepe with the tonarelli at our table, we watched magic being born. You can see the process in the photo above.
(BTW, Rione apparently means “neighborhood.” And Rione XIII refers to the restaurant's inspiration, Trastevere, which is Rome's 13th district.)
And as my Italian-speaking pals might say, “Era delizio. Veramente.” In fact, this dish of cacio e pepe was as good as anything we ate in Rome and better than a recent dish we ordered in Florence.
Abbiamo soddisfatto. Moltissimo.