A few year’s ago this place was a closely guarded local secret, hidden away in the corner of a secluded courtyard, only a select few people were lucky enough to know about it, but all that has changed thanks to an American food writer called Anthony Bourdain. Since he featured the restaurant on his TV show, No Reservations, the place has become a tourist Mecca and they all go for the one thing, the best bowl of Cacio e Pepe in Rome.
Roma Sparita is not the easiest place to find, but if you manage to make your way through the maze of near identical-looking alley ways streets, of the main Trastevere high street, you eventually spill out onto a quiet courtyard that houses what was once one of Rome’s best kept secrets. That is not the case any more but that doesn’t matter, people come here for the food and in particular the cacio e pepe. A pasta dish that is synonymous with Rome, it is a epitome of simplicity but yet so few places have managed to perfect it to the extent that they have here.
The sauce consists of olive oil, some of the starchy water from the cooked pasta, pecorino cheese and of course pepper. The warm, fresh pasta, preferably hand-made tagliorini, is then tossed in the sauce and served, how hard can it be? Well apparently very hard, as no where else that have I tried this dish has it tasted anywhere near as good as it does here. To add to the drama Sparita serves the pasta in a parmesan crisp, which has been cleverly moulded into the shape of a bowl and holds the mound of creamy, cheese-covered pasta perfectly. If there is one pasta dish you try in Rome this has to be it and at less than £10 for a generous sized portion it is great value too.
The rest of the menu is pretty special too. Don’t miss the deep fried artichoke, slowed-cooked oxtail in tomato sauce, or Roman-style tripe ragu. Service is pretty good considering how busy the place is all hours of the day, just make sure you book at least one day in advance as this is not a place you want to miss out on.
Meal and wine for two: £35
Address: 24 Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 00153 Rome
Website: Roma Sparita
Open: Mon 7:30pm-11:30pm, Tue-Sat 12:30pm-2:30pm 7:30pm-11:30pm