The Definitive Guide To London's Best Cacio E Pepes guide image


The Definitive Guide To London's Best Cacio E Pepes

Cheese. Pasta. Pepper. What’s not to like?

The best things in life are simple. That’s why no one’s favourite thing is building flat-pack furniture or recounting the plot of Twin Peaks. No, simplicity is basically laziness’ more sophisticated cousin and it’s the key to a good time. And in no case is that more true than the Roman pasta dish, cacio e pepe. Made with cheese, pepper, and some al dente pasta, it’s super simple but at these restaurants, it also happens to be fantastic. 


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Golden Square 8-10 Lower James Street, London
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When our nephew is sad, he whimpers “I need cheesy pasta” while forcing some very large performative tears. Saying, “bloody hell, could really do with some cacio e pepe” and sighing, is the adult equivalent. Soho’s Bancone is just the place for a grown-up dinner and you can’t really go wrong with a bowl of bucatini cacio e pepe at the counter. It also has an equally lovely location in Covent Garden, but from our experience the cacio e pepe at the Soho branch is better. 

La Mia Mamma makes the best cacio e pepe in London. There, we said it. The fact that this cacio e pepe hits the mark every single time is probably down to the fact that it’s made by the Italian ‘mammas’, a group of female chefs that seriously know their pasta. The mammas take turns exploring different regional dishes, but you’ll always find this pepper-heavy wonder on the à la carte menu. Expect an upbeat restaurant on the King’s Road that’s a proper laugh, jolly sing-songs for people’s birthdays, and enough pecorino to make you forget your own name. 

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Padella is the rock star of London handmade pasta joints. If you’ve currently got a mental image of Keith Richards hand-rolling rigatoni in a chef’s hat, then same. But the point is, Padella is the most famous and arguably, most loved, of this city’s pasta restaurants. Not only are the dishes very budget-friendly—we’re talking £11 for the pici cacio e pepe—but this pasta bar pretty much put cacio e pepe on the London food map. Both the Borough and Shoreditch locations are constantly rammed but you can join the queue with the WalkUp app and have a glass of wine nearby while you wait. Trust us, it’s worth it. 

Cacio e pepe purists look away now, because this one goes out to all of our alternative cacio e pepe lovers out there. We see you and we want to tell you about a little something, known to us as Manteca’s bloody lovely crab cacio e pepe tonnarelli. Between all that cheese and the crab, this number is mega-rich. Like, Logan Roy, early-Apple-investor, Beyoncé-on-a-yacht, kind of rich. We recommend sharing a bowl while also getting involved in a couple of other certified nice things from this buzzing British-powered Italian-influenced spot in Shoreditch. 

photo credit: Lateef Photography

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‘The brown butter cacio e pepe is something we could shovel for the rest of eternity’—us, being characteristically dramatic about Noci’s pasta. Cheesy pasta is our passion, sue us. But in all honesty, this roomy, modern handmade pasta spot on Islington Green is deeply delightful and the fact that you can get the cacio e pepe, focaccia, and a glass of wine for £12 as part of the set menu is deeply delightful news for our overdraft. FYI there are also a couple of tables out front in case you like your traditional Roman pasta dishes with a side of vitamin D. 

We like to smell—and feel—like a walking pepper grinder after eating cacio e pepe. But for some strange reason, not everybody does. If you’re after a cacio e pepe that’s more cacio than pepe, then Il Pampero is the one for you. This stylish, upmarket restaurant inside The Hari hotel has a distinct Sinatra, New York feel and more importantly, the cacio e pepe is served out of a giant wheel of pecorino romano. Just be sure to let them know that you want the full tableside cheese experience. We like to add more pepper to ours and it’ll set you back an eye-watering £21. But hey, welcome to Belgravia baby. 

Al Dente


It’s time for an honest conversation. If this guide was called ‘Where To Sit And Eat Pasta For Hours’ then Al Dente wouldn’t have made the cut. But this is about cacio e pepe, and that’s something Al Dente does well. This little pasta bar and shop on Goodge Street isn’t the comfiest of places and some of the other pasta dishes can be a bit hit and miss, but for a quick bowl of reliably al dente tonnarelli you can’t go wrong. The sauce is thick—just the way we like it—and you can also grab some fresh pasta to cook at home. 

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