This is one of my all-time favorite pastas. Not only does it have the flavor of beautifully crisp pieces of pancetta, but you then use the oil it renders to flavor the rest of the sauce. And as if that wasn’t enough, you top it with a good amount of freshly grated pecorino. It’s heaven in a bowl. This is a sauce I refuse to have with any other noodle but bucatini, which is like spaghetti but slightly thicker and hollow. Yes, you can try it with spaghetti if that’s all you have, but I urge you to go get some bucatini. It’s not hard to find, and you’ll get the authentic all’amatriciana experience.

You’ll note that I’ve suggested using guanciale, cured Italian pork jowl, even though it’s difficult to find in North America. It’s the authentic meat used in this Roman classic. But even though I won’t bend on the pasta, I will happily use pancetta instead of guanciale.

  • Per 4 person
  • 1 lb (500 g) bucatini pasta
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 oz (175 g) guanciale or pancetta, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Chili pepper flakes, QB
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) plum tomatoes, crushed
  • Salt, QB
  • 1 cup (250 mL) grated pecorino cheese

The sauce will cook in about the same time it takes to cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, heat up the olive oil in a frying pan on high heat. Add your guanciale or pancetta and fry until it’s crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and chili pepper flakes and sauté until the onions soften. Turn down the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes with a little bit of salt and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Once your pasta is at the al dente stage, reserve a cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. If you’re using bucatini, you may not have to add any of the cooking water to the dish because the hollow middle of the noodle traps enough water and will release it right into the sauce. But if you’re using spaghetti, I recommend adding some of the liquid to help bind the sauce to the pasta. Let the whole thing cook for about a minute and then remove the pan from the heat. Add the grated pecorino cheese, mix it together and serve.