10 Jun


This classic recipe comes from the kitchen of my friend Gioia in Rome, but its origin goes back to the town of Amatrice in Northern Lazio and didn’t include tomatoes until the Romans seized it and claimed it for their own. Serious food fights have been known to occur over whether or not onions should be included in the recipe (many Romans seem to prefer it this way, but some purists do not) and whether pancetta (Italian bacon) or guanciale (similar but from the jowl of the pig and covered with black pepper) should be used. Bucatini (long hollow pasta) is the official pasta for all’amatriciana, but since it has a way of whipping around and slapping you in the face and staining your collar, rigatoni is commonly substituted.

Amatriciana is often referred to as the Pasta of the 5 P’s for its primary ingredients: pasta, pomodori (tomatoes), pancetta, peperoncino (chili pepper), and pecorino romano.

Gioia’s recipe includes onions and pancetta since guanciale is almost impossible to find in the States.

amatriciana recipe


4 oz diced pancetta
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 peperoncino (chili pepper) or crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Italian dry white wine
1 can (28-oz) San Marzano tomatoes or 3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped fresh plum tomatoes (Use fresh only if they’re top quality sweet tomatoes, otherwise you’ll have far better results with the canned variety
Sea salt
1 pound rigatoni, bucatini, or spaghetti
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano, about 1/2 cup

1.    Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in large pot.
2.    Heat oil in large, high-sided frying pan, add onions and peperoncino until onions are golden. Remove from pan and keep warm.
3.    Add pancetta to pan, cook until it begins to crisp. Return onions and peperoncino to pan with pancetta.
4.    Raise heat and add white wine to deglaze, stirring with a wooden spoon until liquid is reduced.
5.    Add tomatoes, salt to taste, lower heat, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6.    Remove peperoncino
7.    Meanwhile add generous amount of salt to boiling water and throw in pasta, stir, and cook al dente according to package directions.
8.    Drain pasta, add to sauce in pan, mix well and quickly, and top with Pecorino Romano.
Serves 6

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