La pajata, the cooked intestines of unweaned calves, is one of the cornerstones of Rome’s quinto quarto (organ meat) tradition. Though it has been steadily disappearing from Roman menus over the years, it is still proudly served in restaurants like Checchino dal 1887 and Augustarello, both in Testaccio, where the quinto quarto has managed to hold its ground. It is mainly is served in one of two ways: cooked in tomato sauce and served over rigatoni or simply grilled. In both preparations, combining the enzymes in the intestines with heat causes the mother’s milk inside the casing to curdle, producing a creamy, ricotta-like cheese within.

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Gastronomic Traditions · Offal · Rome & Lazio


  • I tried pajata last year in Rome. I’d wanted to go to Checchino for it, but we ran out of time. Instead, I noticed it on the menu at Osteria ar Galletto in the Piazza Farnese and decided to order it there.
    The waiter asked if I was sure, lol. I told him “of course!”
    It was served in tomato sauce with rigatoni. I made everyone at the table at least taste it then I ate most of it myself with the help of one of my friends. It was really good!

  • Yum!

  • Is it from actual calves now, or still lamb? I read an article back in January about how the calf intestines were prohibited (I can’t remember why)–did that get lifted?

  • Katie

    Yeah calf intestines were prohibited due to mucca pazza but Alemanno has called for them to be reinstated. I suspect many places where already back to using them.

  • Had this at Checchino last week and it was great, though they kind of oversauced the pasta. The pajata were a revelation, though. I had read several comparisons before, mostly Vienna sausages and ricotta, both of which I can understand, though neither of which is entirely accurate. I didn’t ask whether what I had was from a lamb or calf, but have read about the post-mad cow ban on using intestines from calves.

    Katie, do you know of any places in the US that serve this dish? My best guess would be Incanto in SF, which is known for excessive offal. I consider myself offal-savvy and have never heard of or seen this anywhere before being in Rome.

  • […] is no secret that I am way into offal. In my home city of Rome rigatoni alla pajata is my pasta of choice, while my favorite main dish is trippa alla romana. Perhaps this penchant for […]

  • […] meat. The recipes and ingredients of this late 19th century cucina romana like trippa alla romana, la pajata, and coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail) can still be found in the trattorie and markets of the […]

  • Simply ADORE pajata, delighted to hear it can still be eaten in Rome!

  • Katie

    yes there are some great places that still make it. augustarello is a favorite of mine.

  • It’s so nice to see a picture of a Pajata here. I made my second trip to Rome just to eat this delicacy. Please try “Perilli” in Testaccio and “Pomidorro d’Adolfo” in San Lorenzo too.

  • I just LOVE Rigaotni co’ la pajata, can’t wait to get back to Rome to taste them, anywhere else besides Checchino/Augustarello?

  • I ate this dish many years ago in a little town called Velletri, at the edge of the CAstelli Romani and loved it. One thing I’ve always been unsure about. One would have to use the very upper part of the intestine, since lower down and the undigested milk would surely turn into something less savoury! Any tips about that?

  • […] big fan of intestines. Anything that is a fundamental ingredient in sausage is cool with me and pajata is one of my all-time favorite pasta condiments. I had these mumbar dolması (stuffed intestines) […]

  • […] it just me or have the intestines used in pajata gotten bigger recently? I can’t figure out why. Maybe restaurants are back to using the […]

  • […] was in the mood for something simple and filling, so I chose rigatoni alla pajata. Mamma Parla ordered tonarelli cacio e pepe. Both of these classic Roman pasta dishes were great […]

  • […] cooked in a tomato sauce, covered with pecorino cheese at the end. Another dish involving offal is rigatoni con la pajata, where calf intestines – the pajata – form a thick, creamy sauce for the pasta when […]

  • Katie – as you probably know, I liked Perilli’s version more than Checchino’s but, that being said, I’d greatfully eat either anytime. At any rate, is there any place serving pajada in NYC? I’m back home and looking but my guess is that it’s simply not done here. Correct?

  • Katie

    To my knowledge it is simply not done. It is a highly regional dish in Italy and even kokorec (grilled intestines with fat), which is a national street food in turkey, is only found in a couple of restaurants in Astoria. You’ve gotta come back to eat it, ideally in the spring when the lambs are young and the pajata is most delicate:)

  • Oh well… I guess if I have to come back to Rome, I can handle it.

    I used to get kokoretzki (spelling way off), the Greek version of kokorec, in Astoria many years ago at Roumeli’s Taverna but now that’s gone and so’s any other place that may have it.


  • […] or tossed through rigatoni and tomato sauce. Katie directed me, amongst others that she suggests here, to Flavio Velavevodetto. It did not […]

  • […] like coda alla vaccinara (oxtail) and lingua (tongue) con salsa verde. Or the unique Roman dish of pajata, the intestines of milk-fed veal which when cooked reveal a tasty, cheese-like cream inside. They […]

  • Enjoyed a secondo at Agustarello tonight, by the skin of my teeth (the waitress implored the chef to let me eat without a reservation if I promised to leave by 9 p.m., which I did). It was just great. I had it twice at Da Cecchino a number of years ago, but this is my first trip back, and I despaired of finding it. Two nights left in my trip — I’ll be heading back there!

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