I took the above photo while the waiter at Cacio e Pepe prepared my pasta.  I mean, come on – a parmesan bowl!  Need I say more?

Okay fine.

In the spirit of full disclosure, that is actually a pecorino romano bowl, and no, I did not get to eat out of it (darn).  But I do have a soft spot for dinnerware of the dairy persuasion, and my recent visit to Cacio e Pepe did not disappoint.
It was a balmy weeknight, and my eating buddy and I ate outside.  You can see that the outdoor dining area isn’t much (unless you count the lady in the green sweater, who I’m sure was thrilled to have her picture taken).  But we weren’t there for the ambience.  We went straight for the pasta.

I ordered the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, which is prepared tableside, as shown in the first photo.  Consisting of homemade pasta tossed with pecorino romano cheese (scraped straight from the wheel!) and whole black pepper, it is piquant, creamy and rich.  I admit I was disappointed that the portion was a bit small, but then again, I’m a pig.

I forgot the exact name of my eating buddy’s dish, and it’s not online (it seems as though the restaurant forgot to renew its site domain name – uh oh), but as you can see below, it involved cheese, olive oil, and a bacon/pancetta/lardo type product.  I do remember reaching over quite rudely to eat off her plate. Repeatedly.

Overall, the ambience at Cacio e Pepe is…fine.  The service is passable.  But really, who am I kidding here? I’m going for the big wheel of cheese.  Yumzo.

Do you like cheese? (! thought so). Then you’ll like Cacio e Pepe.

Cacio e Pepe 182 2nd Ave. (off 12th St.)