Today I write an open letter confessing my love for the Amatriciana at Da Enzo al 29, Roma. You are the Roman goddess of pasta, the one who now haunts my dreams and calls me back to Roma like a beautiful siren. I just want to know Amatriciana, where have you been all my life? When will I see you again?
Alright, all silliness aside, I took my first trip to Rome last month, and having already been familiar with Cacio e Pepe, I was certain that would be my pasta of choice. After a few meals, I knew that I was hooked on Amatriciana, and that the other pastas didn’t stand a chance. OK, maybe I loved them too, but a girl has to have a favorite, right?
I learned a lot about food when visiting Italy, but most memorable was the difference in cuisines by region. In the US, we often “water down” food from other countries to make it more palatable for the masses, and we lose a lot of authenticity and culture in the process. We have an idea of what Italian food is, but we never realize, for example, the differences between Roman and Neapolitan styles. There is nothing like visiting a place, and exploring it’s cuisine, to leave a lasting impression.
On that note, in case you aren’t familiar with Amatriciana (I wasn’t), it is a sauce made of guanciale or pork cheek, pecorino cheese, tomato and onion. We also tried other traditionally Roman style dishes: Carbonara made with guanciale/pancetta/bacon, Pecorino/Parmesan, egg yolk and black pepper; and Cacio e Pepe made with Pecorino, Pepper, a small amount of the cooking water from the pasta. Hands down, we had a table favorite with the Amatriciana.
They used rigatoni style pasta for both the Amatriciana and the Carbonara, which was different than the other places in Rome where we tried it. The pasta itself at Da Enzo is also pretty perfect – a tad bit chewy, balanced with softness and a touch of salt, I swear I can still taste it.
Here is our meal at Da Enzo al 29…
You can find the menu for Da Enzo here. I highly suggest making a reservation, though they only take them for dinner. We got there early for lunch and did not have to wait, but there was a line when we left.
Pictured: 1. Front of Da Enzo, 2. Rachel (EatSociety) with the menu, 3. Jewish style artichoke, 4. all the pastas, 5 & 6. Amatriciana, 7. Carbonara, 8. Cacio e Pepe, 9. Meatballs, 10. Patio view of alleyway