Lazio is a region in the center of Italy. Lazio’s most important city is a small town called Rome. My home town, Atina, is technically in Lazio although we are halfway between Rome and Naples, which is in Campania. Many classic Italian dishes come from Lazio including the famous four pasta dishes. (see them below) I cook a lot of dishes from this region at Bello because I ate so many of them at home (well, plus because they are so good).
1. Pasta all’Amatriciana This dish, named for the town of Amatrice, is one of the most famous pasta dishes in all of Italy and leads the famous 4. It is made with tomato, olive oil and guanciale (a cured pork product made from the jowl of the pig). It should not be made with pancetta or, worse, American bacon. It can be topped with Pecorino Romano. Properly made, it is truly spectacular.
2. Pasta alla Gricia Pasta alla Gricia is almost a white version of Pasta all’Amatriciana. It is made with guanciale, black pepper and Pecorino Romano. It’s basically a sauce made of liquid cheese and pork fat. You really can’t get much better than that.
3. Pasta alla Carbonara This classic is made with eggs, guanciale, pecorino and black pepper. The sauce should be creamy but cream should never, ever, ever, ever be added. Garlic is also not used in this dish. Properly made, it’s one of the best pasta dishes in Italy.
4. Cacio e Pepe This is a very simple dish but also hard to prepare. It’s just a sauce of melted Pecorino Cheese and black pepper. The trick is that the cheese needs to have little moisture or the sauce will clump and create a mess. This is the last of the famous 4 pasta dishes. Again, it’s fantastic if properly made, as difficult as that may be.
5. Pollo Alla Diavola This is a simple but delicious dish. The chicken is marinated in lemon juice and olive oil and liberally coated with black pepper. It is then simply grilled until just done.
6. Carciofi Alla Giudia As the name suggests, this dish was invented by Jews during Roman times, and is still a favorite in Rome today. It’s deep fried golden artichokes and there is not a better way to eat artichokes (if you can get someone to prepare it for you).
7. Stracciatella This is egg drop soup, Italian style. It’s very simple. You beat eggs, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper, lemon zest (and semolina if you like). You then whisk it into beef broth if you like. It’s often served at Easter but it’s good any time.
8. Saltimbocca This veal dish is a classic of Roman cuisine. It is veal rolled up with prosciutto and sage and cooked with white wine and butter.
9. Coda alla Vaccinara This means oxtail in the style of the butcher. Legend has it that it was not worth it for butchers to sell the tail of the cow because it weighed so little so they brought it home. Of course, today, the tail is highly prized and pound per pound of meat may be the most expensive cut on the cow. The tail is braised in tomatoes, white wine, carrots (sometimes), onions garlic and pancetta. At the end raisins and chocolate are added. It is garnished with pine nuts. It’s one of my favorite meat dishes in Italy.
10. Baccalà in Guazzetto Baccala is cod that has been preserved by salting it. Years ago, fishing villages would catch large amounts of cod and preserve it in this manner so that they had a source of protein for the year. Now, salt cod is relatively expensive. I love it. The salting process concentrates the flavor of the fish and for me, it’s one of my favorite fish. The fish is soaked in water for 2 days to remove the saltiness. In this dish, the fish is cooked in tomatoes, onions, raisins and pine nuts.