Dish of the Week: Cacio e Pepe

You can make it at home, they said; nine dollars is too much for just noods and cheese, they said. Well, fuck. Pardon my French, but this Italian pasta dish was so flipping incredible, I’m still walking around in a fog, muttering “that’s a spicy a-meatball,” to strangers and feral cats five days later. It’s gotten so bad, my wife is on the verge of having me committed… HAHA, just kidding! … I don’t have a wife… It’s my mom that’s worried… About the lack of a wife.

Joke’s on Mom though — I’ve found the love of my life. Her name is Mama DeCampo and I’m obsessed with her noods — specifically the cacio e pepe. Somehow cacio e pepe is even more basic than macaroni and cheese. With the mac, you can mix and match your cheeses, throw on some breadcrumbs, mix in some bacon, etc. Cacio e pepe has just three ingredients: pecorino Romano cheese (cacio), black pepper (pepe), and noods. I’ve ordered dishes with longer menu descriptions than this dish’s Wikipedia page! It’s so hard for me to order something this simple at a restaurant, because it always comes with a side of FOMO. But throw this in a bathtub and call me Jacque Cousteau, because I am diving the fuck in. Over and over again. The noods were perfectly al dente; the cheese, melted by the starchy cooking water, was rich, creamy, salty, fatty, and bursting with umami; and the pepper added a kick to the roof of my mouth that only an ungodly amount of pepper can do. Matt can attest: every bite came with a chorus of mmms, and ohmygods, and jesuschrists. I’d apologize to anyone offended by my taking the lord’s name in vain, but this was a true religious experience if I’ve ever had one. I pray to the altar of noods now, and in that I am saved.

If you go: Mama DeCampo’s is a weekly popup by the team at Monello, every Sunday night from 5-10pm. We also recommend the big-as-your-face lasagna and the 4-pack of cannoli.