Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Originating from the town of Amatrice in Italy, all'Amatriciana (pronounced "all-aMAH-tri-CHAna") is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Roman and Italian cuisine. It has recently become one of my go-to dishes on those really busy weeknights (or lazy weekends)--it's easy, delicious, and cooks up in no time!

This dish is traditionally made with bucatini, a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole that runs through the center ("buco" means hole). I wasn't able to find bucatini in any of my grocery stores, so I bought it online here. Spaghetti makes a fine substitute as well.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Serves 4-6


    1 pound dry bucatini or spaghetti
    8 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips (see Cook’s Note)
    1 medium onion, sliced
    ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    3 garlic cloves, minced (see Cook’s Note)
    1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes and juice—use San Marzano if you can
    1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
    Freshly ground black pepper


In a large skillet, sauté the pancetta over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes, until it is crisp and the fat has rendered. (See Cook’s Note)

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook one minute less than the package states. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce.

Remove the pancetta and set aside. Add the onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic (if using) to the same skillet and sauté until the onions are translucent and almost golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes and pancetta to the onions, red pepper flakes, and garlic, crushing the tomatoes as you go. 

Stir the sauce to combine, and let it simmer (and thicken) for 15 minutes.

Add the bucatini directly into the sauce, as well as the Pecorino Romano, and stir to combine.

Let everything sit for a minute to let the bucatini finish cooking, and more importantly, to let all of the flavors get happy!

Buon appetito!

Cook’s Note:

Bucatini all’Amatriciana is traditionally made with guanciale, not pancetta or bacon. However, it is extremely difficult to find (at least where I live). If you can find it, use it! It has a higher fat-to-meat ratio than pancetta, so it has a lot more flavor!

There is a lot of debate on how authentic all’Amatriciana should be prepared. Technically, the original recipe does not include garlic or onions! However, those who know me well enough know that I love garlic more than the average person, so I included it in this recipe. It’s up to you if you want to add the garlic and onions, but just know that they are optional.

Traditionally, the pancetta is cooked just until the fat has rendered a little bit and it is tender, not crisp. However, Ruben prefers his pancetta to be more on the crispy side, so that’s how I always make it. If you’d like to make this dish the traditional way, just cook the pancetta for a few minutes until it is tender.

***The best place I've been able to find pancetta has been at Whole Foods in the fresh cured meats/cheese/deli section. Another place I've found pancetta is at Trader Joe's, but it's not as good. If you live in Seattle, I highly recommend that you check out Salumi--they make their own pancetta and the flavor is the best I've ever come across! Plus Mario Batali's family owns that shop (for all you Food Network/foodie fans)!***