100 Favorite Dishes, No. 2: Cacio e Pepe at Lucia

100 Favorite Dishes, No. 2: Cacio e Pepe at Lucia
Pasta coated in a sauce made out of thin air.

For last week's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we've been counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

I'm not sure why, but I get a disproportionate number of questions about the pasta dish you see above. Sure, cacio e pepe, the signature pasta dish of Rome, is a modestly popular plate, but so is roast chicken, and I don't exactly have tons of people asking me where to get the crispiest bird in town. But cacio e pepe, or "that pasta dish with the cheese and peppercorns," as it's often referred, has popped up in casual conversation and in comments in our blog a lot.

And every time I'm asked where to get a decent version of cacio e pepe, my answer is always the same: Get out your stock pot and sautée pan because the only way to have this dish as it should be is to prepare it yourself at home.

The recipe is simple: Cook some pasta in salted water until it's not quite done, and then finish the pasta in a pan with butter or olive oil, cheese (usually parmigiano reggiano) and enough of that pasta water to create a simple sauce. A healthy dose of black pepper gives the dish its characteristic bite. Cheese and pepper: That's the dish.

Yet restaurant kitchens never seem to get it right. Plates are often oily, and the peppercorns that fleck the pasta lack punch. So when I saw taglierini cacio e pepe on the menu at Lucia, I jumped at the chance to try David Uygur's take on the dish.

The trick is getting the water and fat in the dish to emulsify in a way that forms a sauce that clings to the pasta without weighing it down. Uygur also makes use of massive peppercorns that looked like they were cut up with a knife instead of ground in a mill. They explode like gunpowder when ground between your teeth, filling your mouth with faint heat and soot. It's such a simple dish, but it's a difficult one to pull off this well, and it's even harder to conjure something new like Lucia has.

No. 100: Pastrami Egg Rolls at Blind Butcher No. 99: Chicken-fried Steak at Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 98: Pasta with Uni Butter at Nonna No. 97: Camarón en Agua Chile at La Palapas No. 96: The Wings at Lakewood Landing No. 94: Chicken Kebab at Afrah No. 93: Trompo Tacos at Bachman Lake No. 92: Fish and Chips at 20 Feet No. 91: Canelés at Village Baking Co. No. 90: Banh Mi from La Me No. 88: The Burgers at Off-Site Kitchen No. 87: The White Album at Spoon No. 86: Ramen at Tei An No. 85: Tacos at Revolver Taco No. 84: Stuffed Chicken Wings at Sakhuu No. 83: Korean Fried Chicken at Bonchon No. 82: Grilled Branzino at Tei Tei Robata No. 81: The Toddfather at Cattleack Barbecue No. 80: The Biryanis at Chennai No. 79: Shish Tawook at Qariah No. 78: Arepes at Zaguan No. 77: Goat Momo at Everest Restaurant No. 76: Steak Tartar at Gemma No. 75: Escabeche at Joyce and Gigi's No. 74: Spicy Fish in Oil at Royal Sichuan No. 73: Pupusas at La Pasadita No. 72: The Kathi Roll at Simply Dosa No. 71: The Chicken Wings at Teppo No. 70: Cheesesteak at Truck Yard No. 69: Chicken and Waffles at Jonathon's No. 68: Birria Tacos at Los Torres Taqueria No. 67: Bulgogi Cheesesteak at Say Kimchi No. 66: Suadero Tacos at La Banqueta No. 65: Brian Luscher's Post Oak Red Hot No. 64: Banana Flower Salad at Mot Hai Ba No. 63: Cinco Leches Cake At Mesero Miguel No. 62: Cabrito a la Parilla at El Ranchito No. 61: Reuben at Kuby's No. 60: Plain Cheese Pizza Cooked Extra Crispy at Zoli's No. 59: Enmoladas at Mesa No. 58: Pig's Head at CBD Provisions No. 57: Rib "Sandwich" at Baby Back Shak No. 56: Beef Noodle Soup at Monkey King No. 55: The Nachos at Spiral Diner No. 54: Elotes, Everywhere No. 53: The Popeye At Green Grocer No. 52: The Cuban at International Bakery No. 51: Rush Patisserie's Croissant No. 50: Kitfo From Sheba's Ethiopian Kitchen No. 49: Beer at Craft and Growler No. 48: Pastor Tacos at El Rincon No. 47: Banh Mi From Nammi No. 46: Beef Fajitas From Mariano's No. 45: Italian Combo from Carbone's No. 44: The Brisket at Pecan Lodge No. 43: Chicken-Fried Steak at Ellen's Southern Kitchen No. 42: Carnitas Tacos at Taqueria Y Carneseria Guanajuato No. 41: Lamb Burger at LARK No. 40: Regina Margherita At Cane Rosso No. 39: Barbacoa At Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo No. 38: The Peace 'Stachio at Hypnotic Donuts No. 37: Nasi Lemak at Kampong No. 36: A Rotisserie Chicken Taco at Velvet Taco No. 35: The Burger At Boulevardier No. 34: Surfers On Acid At Local Oak No. 33: Bread Pudding at Sissy's No. 32: Pelmeni at the Russian Banya No. 31: Loukoumathes at Greek Fest No. 30: The Charcuterie Plate at FT33 No. 29: Short Rib Grilled Cheese at East Hampton No. 28: The Fried Bologna Sandwich at Maple and Motor No. 27: The Pastrami Sandwich at the Whistling Pig No. 26: Bacon-Encrusted Bone Marrow at Knife No. 25: Meatloaf at Stock and Barrel No. 24: The Reuben at Cock and Bull No. 23: Causa Limena at San Salvaje No. 22: Fish Tacos at TJ's No. 21: The Cuban at ¡C. Señor! No. 20: The Smoked Salmon at Zen Sushi No. 19: The Ham Sandwich at Vagabond No. 18: Steak and Eggs at Meddlesome Moth No. 17: Campechano at El Come Taco No. 16: The Chicken Scratch at Chicken Scratch No. 15: Veal Bolognese with Pappardelle at Urbano No. 14: Chicken-Fried Steak at Babe's No. 13: Hanger Steak and Eggs Taco at Good 2 Go Taco No. 12: Emporium Pies' Pies No. 11: Bun Bo Hue at Don Que No. 10: Fish Reuben at Rex's No. 9: Tacos at La Ventana No. 8: Moules Frittes at the Grape No. 7: The Sliders at Easy Slider No. 6: Pulpo a la Plancha at Casa Rubia No. 5: Bacon Egg and Cheese at Start No. 4: Dry-Aged Burger At Neighborhood Services No. 3: The Pork Chop at So&So's

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Lucia

408 W. Eighth St.
Dallas, TX 75208

214-948-4998

www.luciadallas.com


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