Eat like Italians: Bucatini all’Amatriciana


Delicious tomato sauce goodness over an addicting chewy pasta, bucatini. What makes Bucatini all’Amatriciana as good as it is are the sweetened flavors of guanciale (pork cheek) and carrots, combined with the sharp flavor of pecorino romano cheese. There are as many variations of this as there are regions of Italy, but here is a popular version that I absolutely love.

Bucatini with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

A few tips to cook really good and authentic pasta:

  1. Flavor water you boil the pasta with. Add a good 1 to 2 tbsp of kosher salt. This will not make your pasta salty but simply give it body. It will also flavor your sauce later.
  2. Add some pasta water to your sauce. The starch and the salted flavor of water help intensify the sauce.
  3. Although many use some olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together, it’s best to mix pasta with sauce right after it’s cooked and drained. Olive oil will keep the sauce from clinging to the pasta and heat will help pasta absorb the sauce.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Adapted from Saveur


  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale (find at italian specialty stores) or pancetta (if you can’t locate guanciale), cut into 3⁄4″ pieces
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small carrot, minced
  • 1⁄2 medium onion, minced
  • 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 1  28-oz. can peeled tomatoes, undrained and puréed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. bucatini
  • 1 1⁄4 cups grated Pecorino Romano


  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add guanciale and cook until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
  2. Add pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium high. Add garlic, carrots, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add chile flakes and cook 1 minute.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 20-25 minutes. Season with salt.
  5. While thickening sauce, bring a 6 qt pot of well salted water (about 1-2 tbsp of kosher salt) to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8 minutes. Taste the pasta and make sure it’s cooked al dente. Bucatini can take a little longer. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta.
  6. Heat reserved sauce over medium heat. Add pasta and reserved water. Cook and toss until sauce clings to pasta, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup pecorino and toss. Divide between bowls. Serve with remaining pecorino.

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8 comments for “Eat like Italians: Bucatini all’Amatriciana

  1. juniakk @ mis pensamientos
    February 26, 2012 at 6:53 am

    love your pasta tips! yes, the pasta starch water helps immensely with the flavors! love the new look. congrats on moving to wordpress! i am still thinking about moving mine too.

    • Jessica
      February 26, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Thank you! I think you should definitely do it! I really love what wp offers 🙂

  2. Yi @ Yi Resevation
    February 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    stumbled onto your blog through I’ve heard about all’Amatriciana a lot but I have not made it at home yet. Your recipe looks great. Will definitely give it a try! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kankana
    February 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I can eat like Italian every single day 🙂 This recipe making me crave for some pasta right away. 🙂

  4. Simply Life
    February 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    oooh- I definitely need to try this! I’m Italian and think this needs to be served on our kitchen table soon! 🙂

  5. Laz
    February 27, 2012 at 7:51 pm


    First off, the site looks rad. I mean really marvelous job. You should be very proud. Now, I love pasta. I am actually a bit o’ a pasta snob. This looks flawless. Pass me a plate.


  6. Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb
    February 28, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Lovely! That going to my pasta sauce try out recipes. thx!

  7. 5 Star Foodie
    February 29, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Your bucatini all’Amatriciana looks perfectly delicious! Gorgeous picture!

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