Anthony Bourdain’s favorite city in the world is Tokyo, but if he’s looking for pasta, he goes straight to Italy. On a famous episode of Bourdain’s No Reservations, he declared a simple bowl of pasta to be “the greatest thing in the history of the world,” and it’s actually very easy to make at home.
Bourdain’s favorite pasta in the world is cacio e pepe, which is one of the simplest things in the world to make. Bravo TV’s official website calls it “Italy’s equivalent of mac and cheese,” and it’s not much harder than making dinner out of a blue box.
The specific cacio e pepe that Bourdain loves best comes from Ristorante Roma Sparita in Rome, where the smooth, buttery, cheesy pasta is served in a bowl made of Parmesan. It looks amazing. While gushing over the pasta, Bourdain said he’d give up his first sexual experience to eat it again.
Chef Kathy Ayer from Food Lover’s Odyssey went to Roma Sparita to check out the pasta in question, and she posted a close copy of their recipe to her blog. The dish only calls for the following four ingredients (five if you count the pasta water): spaghetti, a tablespoon of freshly grated black pepper, butter, and 1 3/4 cups of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Get the recipe: Cacio e Pepe Inspired by Roma Sparita from Food Lover’s Odyssey
If you want to really impress people by making Roma Sparita’s pretty Parmesan bowls, you’ll need an extra 3/4 cup of Parmesan, but Ayer gives instructions for that too, and it sounds pretty easy. Just warm Parmesan in a nonstick pan until it melts, then lay it over a bowl to cool. This might take some practice, but you can eat any mistakes made along the way.
The combination of sharp, salty Pecorino Romano and bright, biting black pepper is always a winner, and it’s not just for pasta. Cacio e pepe has inspired a ton of recipes, and while most of them are not quite as effortless as cacio e pepe pasta, many of them are just as good. You can even make cacio e pepe cookies, or cacio e pepe popcorn.
Do you love this dish too?