Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta amatriciana is named after the village of Amatrice, near Rieti in Lazio. Although quite easy to prepare, it tastes delicious and is full of flavor. Everyone at your table will enjoy this dish!  


The genuine amatriciana recipe dates back to Roman times, but the first recorded information goes back to the 1920s. The ingredients and the way the guanciale, cured pork cheek, was cut made the difference. One of the most ancient recipes called for the guanciale to be chopped and stir-fried with lard and onion, Nowadays no other fat is added. 

Rome and Amatrice have been competing for the ownership of the recipe for long time. Ada Boni, a famous Italian chef, acknowledged in her guidebook that it was a typical dish from the Roman culinary tradition. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was popular among the customers of its trattorie, typical local restaurants. According to the research, this dish was named due to its use of guanciale from Amatrice, which was the best one on the market. 


Perfect amatriciana requires the right ingredients. A good guanciale from Amatrice and tasty Pecorino cheese are essential. You may choose fresh tomatoes or canned peeled ones. Just use top-quality ones. Adding red pepper flakes is up to you and whether you like it more or less hot. 

amatriciana sauce pasta

best pasta for AMATRICIANA? 

What the difference among pasta shapes? Why is one better than another? Both long and short shapes fit this recipe for different reasons. Long pasta gets creamy and holds the sauce on the outside; whereas, the sauce can get wonderfully trapped inside short tubes of pasta. Bucatini with amatriciana sauce is the ultimate combination. It is a long hollow type of pasta made of durum wheat flour and takes about the same amount of cooking time as spaghetti even though it’s thicker.

Nothing combines better with amatriciana than bucatini; it’s the perfect fit. When something fits perfectly with something else, Romans say, “E’ la morte sua,” which means they go well together.  Bucatini holds the sauce well, and the fat from the guanciale makes it super creamy. Rolling bucatini around your fork is a delicious pleasure. 

Two groups have been debating for ages whether to use bucatini or rigatoni. Solid and hearty rigatoni usually ranks second in the amatriciana competition, but those who look for an authentic recipe can’t do without rigatoni because it literally drowns in the sauce. As with every short pasta shape, it needs less sauce. You can also use penne.


Pancetta, like bacon, comes from pork belly. It is cured with salt and additional spices. It is sold paper-thin or in cubes (for pasta dishes). Bacon, on the other hand, is cured and smoked after the curing. 

Guanciale is cured meat from 9-month-old or older pork jowls and cheeks.  It is aged for at least 3 months until its top layer turns into a dry flavorful crust. It is richer in calories, spicier, and more compact than pancetta. This is what you need for the authentic amatriciana. 

In Italy, you can’t joke about using pancetta in amatriciana. It was the guanciale from Amatrice that made this dish famous. Of course, pancetta can replace guanciale, especially if you live in the US or in another country where finding guanciale will be difficult. In a pinch, you can even use bacon.

tips and tricks FOR THE PERFECT pasta AMATRICIANA:  

  • Brown the pancetta or bacon over medium heat;
  • Sauté the pancetta or bacon until crispy and remove it from the pan; 
  • Add the wine to the pork fat; 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and then add the Pecorino cheese, which will bind all the ingredients in a hearty sauce; 
amatriciana sauce pasta
amatriciana sauce pasta
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pasta all’amatriciana

The genuine pasta amatriciana recipe
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 lb bucatini, penne, or rigatoni
  • 3 oz guanciale pancetta or bacon
  • 1 splash of dry white wine
  • 28 oz canned peeled tomatoes or fresh very ripe and scented tomatoes
  • 1 tbs red pepper flakes
  • 2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Sauté the pancetta or bacon until the fat is rendered and the meat is crisp.
  • Take out the cooked pork and set aside.
  • Simmer the white wine with the pork fat until reduced.
  • Add sliced tomatoes to the pan (also peeled if you are using fresh ones).
  • Season with salt and simmer until it thickens (if it is too dry, add a little extra virgin olive oil and reduce the heat to low).
  • In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente in plenty of salted water, roughly 6 quarts for 1lb of pasta.
  • Drain and pour it into a serving bowl; add the sauce, the crispy pancetta, and the Pecorino.
  • Toss evenly and add some red pepper flakes according to your taste.
  • Eat all the amatriciana as this does not reheat well. 


Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 215mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 593IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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