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.
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SHOW ME HOW
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