The Best Cacio e Pepe in Rome: 10 Must-Visit Restaurants

It only takes three ingredients to make one of Rome’s stand-out dishes.
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Close up of a bowl of cacio e pepe pasta on top of a menu

I blame my Italian heritage for my undying love of carbohydrates. I grew up eating penne, fusilli, or tortellini each night at dinner. And truth be told, I have no desire to be weaned off pasta. There are few dishes that can compete with the satisfaction of a comforting bowl of noodles. And in Italy, there are seemingly endless variants to choose from. But of all the pasta recipes that exist in Italy, one stands above the others. Cacio e Pepe (literally meaning “cheese and pepper”) is my unrivaled favorite dish.

This Roman pasta is made using only three ingredients! Tonnarelli, a long, fresh pasta from the Lazio and Abruzzo regions with slightly square edges; pecorino, a hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk, and freshly cracked black pepper which, as it turns out, is an extremely versatile condiment. Then, everything is carefully melded together with a healthy dash of starchy pasta water–an essential ingredient for creating a silky smooth sauce–making it ready to eat.

While restaurants in Rome often substitute spaghetti for tonnarelli or add too much parmigiano into the mix to cut down on the tartness of the sheep’s cheese, I’m a pecorino purist and prefer to enjoy the recipe the way it was intended—in all its savory glory. After eating my way through hundreds of bowls of cacio e pepe in Rome, I’m excited to share my favorite places to enjoy this delicious dish!

Where To Find The Best Cacio e Pepe In Rome

  1. Grappolo d’Oro
  2. Trattoria Da Felice
  3. Osteria da Zi Umberto
  4. Pigneto Quarantuno
  5. Hostaria Romana
  6. Settimo Terrace
  7. L’Osteria di Monteverde
  8. Cesare al Casaletto
  9. Lo’Steria
  10. Sforno

1. Grappolo d’Oro

If I had to pick just one favorite trattoria in Rome, Grappolo d’Oro would be it. Friendly, reliable, well-priced, and located around the corner from Campo de’ Fiori, it’s una certezza as we say in Italian — a guarantee. One of the city’s “slow food restaurants”, it uses quality ingredients to create excellent Roman classics, from cacio e pepe and carbonara to seasonal dishes with artichokes and foraged greens. There’s also a nice array of vegetable sides for vegetarians, including pumpkin parmigiana, Panzanella salad, and deep-fried eggplant patties. Grappolo d’Oro has indoor and outdoor seating.

Grappolo d’Oro
Piazza della Cancelleria 80

Bowl of pasta with cheese sprinkled on top

2. Felice A Testaccio

Felice in Testaccio is one of the best restaurants in the city and is well known for serving a superlative cacio e pepe. Here, a waiter mixes your bowl of pasta directly at your table, carefully incorporating the ingredients until every noodle is generously layered with cheesy goodness. With its retro checkered floors and local feel, this stylish bistro has been popular since it first opened in 1936, so be sure to book your table well in advance.

Felice A Testaccio
Via Mastro Giorgio, 29, 00153 Roma RM

Animated gif of someone mixing a bowl of pasta with a fork and a spoon

2. Osteria da Zi Umberto

One of Trastevere’s classic trattorias, Zi Umberto hits all the right buttons: location, price point, and style. It’s no-frills, but that’s what we love in Rome, right? It’s a little boisterous but not too over-the-top. I love the cacio e pepe here: it’s creamy and slightly less sharp than others, though I often end up choosing a cacio e pepe variant that only Zi Umberto has on the menu: short casarecce pasta with pecorino and cicoria, a bitter leafy green that complements the saltiness of the cheese really well. PS I’ve also seen Jude Law here twice.

Osteria da Zi Umberto
Piazza di S. Giovanni della Malva, 14, 00153 Roma RM

4. Pigneto Quarantuno

Pigneto Quarantuno is a low-key restaurant located along the main street in Pigneto and is considered to be one of Rome’s hidden gems. Everything here is excellent, from the creative antipasti and wine list to the creative pasta dishes and main entrées. The cacio e pepe is rich and creamy, salted to the perfect degree, and just peppery enough. Although I’m a cacio e pepe die-hard, the menu here is so tantalizing, sometimes I can’t help but order something a little more creative. Their mezze maniche pasta with pumpkin, caramelized onion, and pecorino is excellent.

Pigneto Quarantuno
Via del Pigneto, 41, 00176 Roma RM

5. Hostaria Romana

Hostaria Romana is a very traditional eatery in the heart of Rome and one of a few good places within a stone’s throw of Piazza Barberini (the other being Colline Emiliane which serves dishes from the Emilia-Romagna region). This family-owned establishment has been serving Roman classics for over 50 years and has perfected its cacio e pepe, one of the restaurant’s strongest dishes. The atmosphere is rustic, with scribblings on the walls, and despite the high turnover, the service is surprisingly warm and friendly.

Hostaria Romana
Via del Boccaccio, 1, 00187 Roma RM

A bowl of cacio e pepe pasta next to glasses of wine

6. Settimo Terrace

Although cacio e pepe is a staple of Rome’s cucina povera tradition (using inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients) you won’t only find it on menus in casual trattorias. You can also enjoy this dish with an impressive view of Rome’s skyline from the terrace of Sofitel’s Settimo Terrace — one of the best rooftops in Rome. Most luxury hotels in the Eternal City offer gourmet cuisine, so I commend the Sofitel for serving traditional recipes in an upscale setting. Just be prepared to pay €23 for cacio e pepe. This is double what you’d pay elsewhere — but the view may be worth it. Come for sunset drinks and stay for a satiating meal.

Settimo Roman Cuisine & Terrace
Via Lombardia 47, 00187 Rome

A rooftop restaurant with a view of the city of Rome

7. L’Osteria di Monteverde

Located in the residential Monteverde neighborhood, this little restaurant is a favorite with the locals. L’Osteria di Monteverde uses spaghetti instead of tonnarelli, meaning the noodles are slightly thinner and less textured, but the flavor of the cacio e pepe is well-balanced. The pasta is also perfectly cooked al dente, giving the dish a nice chewiness.This version is slightly drier than others but it’s still thoroughly satisfying. The familial service, and Roman crowd, are a bonus.

L’Osteria di Monteverde
Pietro Cartoni, 163, 00152 Roma RM

8. Cesare al Casaletto

There’s not much I can say about Cesare al Casaletto that hasn’t already been said by Rome’s food bloggers. This spot is a local favorite and worth a ride to the end of the tramline to reach. All of the dishes I’ve tried here are top-notch, and the cacio e pepe is truly excellent. It is perfectly creamy, peppery, and ultra cheesy. What you really need to order at Cesare however, are the deep-fried golden gnocchi served on a bed of melted pecorino cheese. You can’t have too much of a good thing, right?

Cesare al Casaletto
Via del Casaletto, 45, 00151 Roma RM

A plate of fritti on top of a table

9. Lo’Steria

I’m lucky to live around the corner from Lo’Steria, a no-frills osteria in the northern neighborhood of Ponte Milvio which serves delicious Roman cuisine. The dishes here use excellent locally-sourced ingredients: the pecorino comes from the Tuscia countryside in northern Lazio, lending the dish an intriguing and delicate flavor. It has a hint of sweetness for a nuanced dish. Even though the menu here is limited, there are always a handful of daily specials to add more intrigue to your dining experience. Most importantly, don’t miss ordering the fritti to start, they’re sublime.

Lo’Steria
Via dei Prati della Farnesina, 61, 00135 Roma RM

A bowl of pasta with cheese sprinkled on top

10. Sforno

Owned by Stefano Callegari, one of the master pizzaioli in Rome, Sforno invented cacio e pepe pizza — and for that, I will always be grateful. This special pizza comes served with a pepper mill in the center and heaps of pecorino on each slice. The secret to baking a cheesy pie that doesn’t turn into goo? The dough is first baked with an ice cube in the center to keep the center of the pizza moist. Then the pie is topped with freshly grated cheese which slowly melts thanks to the heat. Then it is dusted with black pepper. Sforno is located near Cinecittà, so it’s a good spot to check out after a tour of the iconic film studio in southern Rome.

A cut pizza with a thick layer of cheese on each slice and a glass pepper mill in the center
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