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« From Capri - Lemon Cake | Main | Italy »

From Rome - Bucatini all' Amatriciana


This is the first in a series of recipes I'm going to be doing for you that are inspired from our recent trip to Italy. This has long been an absolute favorite dish of mine to make, but having it in Italy again was just beyond great. This dish, like Cacio e Pepe,  is a very common pasta dish that you will find on so many menus in Rome. It's the best of Italian cooking, in my opinon - it has just a handful of great ingredients, is easy to make but totally gutsy in its flavor.

The Roman cooking purists will point out that you must use guanciale (cured pork jowl) in this dish and yes, that's true - in Rome, that is what will be used to make this dish there.  But guanciale is not easy to find here and so I make this dish with pancetta.  Guanciale is fattier and richer than pancetta but pancetta makes a fine substitute.  

Bucatini is also the traditional pasta shape that you will see this dish made with in Rome, although spaghetti is the pasta that it is made with in Amatrice, the town that this dish originates from.  Bucatini is like a very fat spaghetti, but hollow in the center. If you can't find bucatini, feel free to make this with spaghetti or even rigatoni.  I do it all the time. If you've never eaten bucatini before, be aware that it takes a little skill and I would recommend tucking a napkin into your shirt when you first try it! It can be a little springy and slurpy. 

This a great "pantry dish" because you can make it last minute with just the ingredients you have already on hand. I always have canned tomatoes and cheese and I always have pancetta in my freezer.  I will buy it a pound at a time and bring it home and cut it up into 3-ounce portions and freeze them.  Three ounces seems to be the size I most often use in recipes.  The pancetta defrosts so quickly after you cube it that it's never a problem to make something last minute with it. I don't buy it in slices - I always buy it whole because I like to cube it up when I cook with it most of the time and slices are just way too thin to produce the right "bite". 

I had this dish several times in Rome, but I must say my favorite version was at da Gigetto, an excellent trattoria located in the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood in Rome. They cooked it just the way I like it - not too saucy with the sauce almost being a bit dry.  It was an intense, incredible dish:

The reason we were at da Gigetto was to sample a special way that they prepare artichokes there - whole and deep fried.  I had seen this in a video a long time ago that Gourmet produced on Italian Home Cooking, featuring a woman interviewing great cooks around Italy.  I thought, "the next time I go to Rome, I'm going to eat there and have those fried artichokes".  After we sat down in the outdoor cafe and ordered our food, I look up and who walks over and sits down just a couple of tables from us but the woman in the video!  I turned to my husband and told him who she was.  I thought that was so funny.  So I went over and introduced myself and told her that she was the reason we were sitting at that restaurant. Anyway, she is Elizabeth Minchilli - a food writer/publisher/architectural expert/food guide - who lives in Rome. She even has an iPhone App - "Eat Rome", which I immediately downloaded.  What can't this woman do?   And if you're into beautiful design, check out her books.  She even has a house in Umbria you can rent that's gorgeous. Anyway, if you ever need dining help when you're in Rome, she's the person to consult.  It was fun to bump into her.

artichokes at da Gigetto

Even though Amatriciana sauce has just a few ingredients, everyone seems to have their own version.  Some call for onions, some don't.  Some recipes add wine, other do not.  Some mix Pecorino and Parmigiano cheeses.  Some say absolutely never add black pepper.  This is just my version the way I like it.  I hope you do, too. 

chili pepper from Amalfi

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

for a printable recipe click here

the secret to this dish is to not have it be too "saucy" - you want to simmer off a lot of the moisture from the tomatoes and leave just a thick sauce.  The little bit of pasta water that will cling to the pasta when you transfer it to the sauce in the fry pan will be enough to thin out the sauce a little. 


  • 3 ounces pancetta, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon red hot chili pepper (or to taste - mine was very fresh and hot)
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine 
  • 1 cup canned whole tomatoes and juice, crushed (use San Marzano if you can)*
  • 8 ounces Bucatini pasta (or spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese 
  • salt to taste 



Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.

In a large fry pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat for several minutes until crisp but not brown.  Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve, but leave the fat in the pan.  Add the olive oil, onions and chili pepper and cook for several minutes until the onions are just soft but not browning. 

Add the white wine and cook for one minute.  Add the tomatoes (I just use my hand to crush them) and the juice and reserved cooked pancetta and cook over medium low heat, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  You want most of the liquid to cook off. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until still a little firm.  With tongs, remove the pasta from the boiling water and place right into the tomato mixture. Thoroughly coat the pasta with the tomato mixture.  Turn off heat and add the cheese, tossing well.  Taste for salt and add if needed.  Serve immediately and pass extra Pecorino around. Be sure to serve a big red wine with this dish.  

 *  tip - If you cannot find or do not want to buy San Marzano tomatoes, I have found that Muir Glen canned whole tomatoes are pretty good.  There are many canned tomatoes that are not.  San Marzanos are going to have a richness of flavor you won't get with other tomatoes.  They usually are found in 28 ounce size cans.  In a recipe like this, where you just use 1 cup of them, I just freeze the remainder for another use.  They freeze just fine.  

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Reader Comments (71)

Looks yummy! My cousin Umberto from Rome says Dino & Tony's has the best Amatriciana in Rome so I will have to challenge him to try it at da Gigetto! Thanks for sharing your fun trip...I can't wait until we can get back there.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I was thinking of taking my group to da Gigetto when we are there in June, but had heard a not so great review from a friend who went there last fall. Glad to hear your experience was as great as I've read about and I think I'll add it to the itinerary!

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCooking with Michele

Was WOWED by this when we visited Amatrice in 2007 while visiting cousins in Campotosto. Have not found anything to come close here in the US. Biannual visits to Italy have us searching for this wonderful dish!

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

Great recipe and it looks so good!

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

I follow your blog but never comment. But this was something to comment about when I saw the video of the frying artichokes. I must try this. It looks to me to be one of the most unusual ways to cook artichokes. I have bucatini pasta and Manzano tomatoes, so I will be trying the Amatriciana soon. Thanks for the great recipes. I read them all.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbie with a T

I ought not look at any new posts from you right before lunch--I am drooling. I love this kind of pasta, and I don't mind the messiness of it at all. Thanks for the yummy recipe

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Never thought I'd read a recipe that made me crave "cured pork jowl" - but this did it. Look forward to making this, and to your next post. I absolutely love your photographs too.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermaylmer

Before we moved to Egypt and experienced the artichoke season recently, they were one of our "special" treats because of the expense. I love your photo of the pyramid of artichokes at the market!

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

This is brother just returned from visiting Eataly in New York and brought me bucatini and I proceeded to make exactly this dish! You are ONE amazing woman and a superior cook!!!! By the way, just to say it again, I'll have another cousin coming from Naples to visit this summer. She's young and extremely beautiful and will take America by storm!!! I'll have to ask her about some of the trends going on right now in Italy. Keep up the fantastic work--you ARE amazing. Baci!

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

You're so right about eating this pasta. Wear a bib! But it's totally worth it. Luckily, I am able to find guanciale here in Princeton. How funny that you bumped into Elizabeth at the restaurant. You never know.

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterciaochowlinda

Man, I love this pasta. There's something really satisfying about a rich tomato sauce. Olive oil butter, cheese. Sure. But pancetta? Now we're talking.

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikey

It was so great running into you at Gigetto. (I always tell people Rome is a really small city, and that eventually you will run into someone you know.) You recipe looks spot on. And your photographs are gorgeous. I'm so glad to have discovered your beautiful, delicious blog.

April 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Minchilli

What I like about pasta is that you can add almost any ingredient or require not that many and it will taste great. Thanks for sharing!

April 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLP @dishclips

First a disclaimer- I live in the boonies-the very beautiful and scenic rural area of south central Oregon. I was unable to find pancetta in any of my local markets so I substituted salted pork belly. I would have to order buccatini online, so I used spaghetti. And the only San Marzano tomatoes I can find locally are the ones that I harvest and can from my garden in August...they are 2" high plants right now and the ones canned last summer are all used up- so I used Pomi tomatoes. That being said, this turned out to be a delicious, simple dinner! Thank you! I really enjoy your blog and often 'pin' the gorgeous photos to Pinterest! I also document my poor attempts to make your delicious food on my own blog...and I always give you credit :)

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

I just love your site! And yes, over the weekend I made your cinnamon bread. I doubled the recipe, and while it was baking, my husband commented that "that is going to be some good bread". After I allowed it to cool we had a slice or two before bed, and it was delicious. I am giving two loaves away, froze one and we are devouring the other. Thanks for a great recipe. The dough worked up nice and was very easy to put together. May I share your site and recipe on my blog? I have a great ravioli recipe, but looking for forwarding to trying your beet ravioli as well. Eat Well, Sonya

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonya M Frymoyer

From The Italian Dish:

Michele: Thanks! We love Oregon.

Sonya: No problem with sharing! Thanks for asking.

April 30, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I love you blog and italian food. Please check out the T-shirt I designed for cooking enthusiasts. You can wear a Chef jacket even when you go jogging!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

From The Italian Dish:

Pedro: LOVE the chef tee shirt! Great idea.

May 7, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I was trying to find where to buy the San Marzano tomatoes. The website I read says that 95 percent of the tomatoes labeled San Marzano are frauds. Interesting. Is it a type of tomato or are you looking for the "real" San Marzano?

May 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

From The Italian Dish:

Judy: Anyone can grow "San Marzano" tomatoes - my own local farmer's market in Michigan has a vendor that grows them. However, these are not the tomatoes we're looking for. We want the real deal, grown in the Campania region in Italy. The sun and soil make these truly special. I look for tomatoes that are certified DOP (the symbol that certifies authenticity in Italy) on the can. These are the real deal (unless the label is fake). But honestly, most of the canned San Marzano tomatoes I have bought are really good. Maybe some of them were fake - who knows? But they are worth seeking out and are on a level above ordinary grocery store canned tomatoes. Find a brand you like and stick with it.

May 10, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

The can should have a seal & registration number on this
Theres a difference between the real thing and the fraud!! ;) You'll be able to tell when you eat them!

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLesli

Wow, I just tried this recipe and it was delicious! So surprising how much flavor comes out of just a few ingredients! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

May 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCB

We just got back from Italy two days ago, and this dish was my favorite Roman-esque specialty! The restaurants where we had it used what tasted like bacon, which is just as well because I had become tired of pancetta by the time we got to Rome.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristine in Portland

Bucatini all' Amatriciana
Followed the recipe exactly (sunday 6/17), used spaghetti.. The flavors were great. Next time will
start pasta water Before "add the white wine and cook .........". Events happen quickly once at
this point. Didn't have a big red wine with the meal....only regret.


June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLukefortworth

I had this dish at a quaint little trattoria right off Via Veneto in Rome. I loved it! I also had to try Pasta alla Carbonara two nights in a row. Absolute heaven!

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne @ Have a Cookie!

oh my goodness this recipe is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have made it several times and my family just loves it. Simple and so good.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervictoria

This looks and sounds divine! I am so making this for Dinner tonight!

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

We've recently been to Italy and a friend of mine tried this dish, by the end of the plate she said her lips were burning! Not used to spicy pasta, also she didn't know what it really was, just picked a dish with a good sounding name...On the other hand I love it, so thank you for sharing the recipe!

September 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwhilehewasout

Hi, I'm Alberto from Italy.
Do you have a beautifull blog with many originals italian recipes.
I'm start a blog where i write the original italian dish of my family.
If you wont take some recipes you can take is a honor for me.
Bye from Italy

September 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlbertocook

My family and I ate bucatini Amatriciana and cacio e pepe in restaurants in Trastevere last spring, and the bucatini didn't have the hole in the middle. It was more of a course thick spaghetti. I thought the pasta with the hole is perciatelli, which I am not fond of at all. You just can't slurp it into your mouth without inhaling air along with it. But, now I've found some amazing bucatini at a local homemade pasta store here in south jersey, and it's very much like the pasta we had in hole!

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrizia

Just made this recipe.............I ate way too much, very good.
Thanks for posting.

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervini

I made this and ate it ALL myself. Making it again tonight for friends...must have to double up! What is the "intended" serving size for your recipe as printed here?

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Dillon

Patrizia -
There IS some confusion and arbitrariness about the names bucatini and perciatelli but they are essentially very, very similar or the same. The primary defining characteristics of this cut are that they both are:
1.long slender tubed pasta, 2. markedly thicker than spaghetti -AND- 3. have a hole in the center
So I don't doubt the pasta you've had without the center hole may have been quite good (especially if artisanally made), but it was uncharacteristic for this cut of pasta.
In fact, BUCO or BUCA in Italian means "hole".

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersabino

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I made it last night and it was one of the best "Italian" meals we've ever had - just delicious!!!

February 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBetty Ayers

I made this tonight and my hubby proclaimed it to be the best dish I've ever made! i loved it, too. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I love your blog and am anxious to try more of your recipes.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

I just tried this and it is AMAZING! It was so flavorful and tasted delicious! Thanks for this! Would love more recipes like this! Thanks for sharing!

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Lovely blog,lovely recipe, lovely art directed images.

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Lippitt

This was wonderful!

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisamaureen

I made this last night for dinner and it was amazing! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKamila

Yummy! I love italian food!!! As I am from Greece some of our food habits here look like Italian food habits. In July i went to Rome so I didn't stop to eat spaghetti!!!It seems tasty recipe! Please visit my new blog, it involves mainly Greek and Cretan cuisine...
Buona notte!!!

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCooking fairy

visit the original recipe e

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlello

I've had great difficulty finding guanciale here in southeastern Pennsylvania. Scored a nice chunk while visiting an Italian Gourmet Grocer in Peddlers Village in Lahaska , Pa.. Also found a great resource for all things Italian at Eataly in NYC.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarla

Carla (et al) -
Yes, quanciale can be hard to get a hold of.
I've noticed that even many "good" Italian restaurants that make carbonara or amatriciana sauces end up using pancetta ( sometimes even less good choices like bacon ).
I don't know where you live when you refer to southeastern PA, but .... if you are at all close to Philly, you could certainly find quanciale there. Two good possible sources are:
Claudio Specialty and DiBruno Bros. both down on South 9th St.
Among the many foods they carry, both make their own fresh mozzarella and ricotta !!
I live in Baltimore and am fortunate to have two really good Italian delis nearby;
DiPasquale's and Trinacria Foods which carry a range of fresh, packaged and even prepared foods. Many varieties of pasta, tomatoes, olive oils, olives, cheeses, condiments sliced meats, beverages, salted capers & anchiovies, "00" flour, etc. DiPasquale's makes the most amazing porchetta, which you can buy sliced to take home -or- have them make into a great sandwich on fresh baked bread to eat there. But I digress.
I have come across a wonderful American company based in Iowa that makes "Italian-style" cured meats. The company is called La Quercia and their products are of high quality. They make prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, speck, and ...... quanciale.
<< >>
You can't buy directly from them but they sell through various retail and online sources. I have found their pre-packaged prosciutto at my local Whole Foods market. But I have to go to the above local delis for the pancetta or quanciale.
While not as convenient as buying from a local vendor, you could try buying from Murray's Cheese. They are a well-known NY Greenwich Village deli that also sells online/mail-order. They DO have cured meats and, in fact, carry La Quercia products, including quanciale at a fair price.
<< >>
Hope this is helpful.
Buon Appetito

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersabino

These italian dishes look amazing! Reminds me of an Italian Restaurant in Santa Monica that i've been to a few times. Delicious fine dining!

December 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAntony Levine

Bucatini all'amatriciana: the original recipe

January 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMenuetto

A little work but the result is perfetto!

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeppe

I'm unable to discern the brand of Bucatini in your beautiful photo. I'd appreciate knowing the brand and suggestions on where to purchase.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTW

From The Italian Dish:

TW: This particular bucatini was purchased at Williams Sonoma .They have a whole line of great dried pastas under this brand.

February 9, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made this as our main dish for dinner tonight and it was fabulous. I can't wait to try some of your other recipes. Your site is amazing and I truly appreciate your talents!!

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTW

When we ate this at Fontana di Trevi on 57th St. (almost across from Carnegie Hall), it was over 25 years ago, but the memory still warms! But - the sauce was not cooked for long at all, the parmesan cheese grated into it, with panache, thickened it enough; also, it always had a couple of bay leaves in it - that made a difference in flavor that I still prefer to any “hot” pepper.

Charlotte [Now in Los Angeles, sigh.]

March 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte C.

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