"I'm going to eat spaghetti alla carbonara everyday!" That was hub's proclamation before our last trip to Italy. I reminded him that we were only going to be in Rome (home of pasta carbonara) for one day before moving on to Campania and Puglia where the food specialties change to seafood and grilled meats. Nevertheless, spaghetti alla carbonara is hub's all-time favorite pasta dish. Plus, we can't find really good carbonara in Texas, so if he finds it on the menu in Italy, I say, let the man eat all he wants!
In Rome, we stayed near Termini station where we had to pick up our rental car early the next morning. Finding a decent restaurant in this area was a bit of a challenge. None of my favorite trattorias were nearby, and others that were didn't seem to receive very good reviews. Plus, finding the perfect restaurant for our one night in Rome was not high on my list for this trip, while discovering the other parts of Italy were. So, I halfheartedly chose La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. It was within walking distance. And, it had to be at least OK -- they have photos of famous visitors like Ron Howard, Al Pucino and Robert De Niro dining there on their website -- right? (Kidding, of course!)
It was a pleasant evening for late October, so we were seated outside under a large tent. There were probably 20 to 30 tables under the tent and only 3 were occupied (including ours). The waiters were sufficient, but not overly friendly (typical for many tourist spots in Rome). Not a good sign. Why didn't I didn't take the time to research a small neighborhood trattoria? They almost always please with great food and warm service.
Regardless, we ordered up a meal fit for a small army. And of course, hubs ordered spaghetti carbonara. When the pasta arrived, hubs took one bite of his carbonara, rolled his eyes and said, "Oh my, this is better than sex!" I laughed, and then . . . wait . . . oh, gee, thanks a lot!! What's that saying about me?! (I love the fact that hubs and I can joke around with each other like that!) Even still, I reasoned that after 15 hours of nothing but airplane food, any old pasta dish would have tasted like heaven on earth!
As it turned out, La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali did have the best spaghetti alla carbonara. Hubs lived up to his vow and ate carbonara every day, sometimes twice a day, so he earned the right to be judge!
I'm not sure my spaghetti alla carbonara is "better than sex" good, but it's close. Here's how I make it:
3 eggs (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cups grated pecorino romano cheese
2 tbs. olive oil
6 oz. diced pancetta
Salt to taste
1 lb. dried spaghetti
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cheese. Set aside.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and fat has rendered. Add pasta and 1/4 cup of cooking water. Once pasta has rewarmed, remove the pan from the heat.
Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of reserved cooking water into egg-cheese mixture. Pour egg-cheese mixture into skillet; toss well to combine. Season generously with pepper. Serve immediately.
Do you know a restaurant in Rome serving awesome spaghetti alla carbonara? Tell me. I'd love to know about it!