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How to Make (and say) Bucatini all’Amatriciana

3:57 PM EDT on March 22, 2023

bucatini pasta dish

Photo: roboppy on Flickr

It might be harder to pronounce Bucatina all'Amatriciana than it is to make it. And while the former can be fun to learn, the latter is among the greatest pleasures of the Italian kitchen. One of the Holy Trinity of Roman pastas (alongside Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe), Amatriciana (and its variation, Gricia) is distinguished by a tomato-base, infused with savory guanciale (cured hog jowl) and sweet red onions absorbed by the perfect pasta for such a sauce: Bucatini, a long, thicker noodle with a 'little hole' ('bucatini') down the middle that hosts additional sauce.

Pancetta, or even bacon, can be used in place of the guanciale, though we at Appetito highly recommend procuring some guanciale as the rendered fat, the real base of this dish, can't be equaled by substitutes. You can mail order some extraordinary guanciale (and other amazing salumis!) from Terra di Siena, a generation's old Sienese pig farmer with an outpost in the Virginia hills.

Now, for that pronunciation:

Bu = boo

ca = cuh

ti = tea

ni = knee

al = ahl

la = la

ma = mah

tri = trrree (rolling the r 3x, if possible)

ciana = chana


Say it with me, amici!

How to Make (and say) Bucatini all'Amatriciana

How to Make (and say) Bucatini all'Amatriciana

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Recipe by andrewappetito Course: Recipes


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 lb 1 bucatini (a thick, dry spaghetti can be substituted)

  • 1/2 lb 1/2 guanciale sliced into long, thin strips (like matchsticks)

  • 1 medium 1 red onion, halved and sliced ¼-inch thick

  • 1-1/2 tsp 1-1/2 red pepper flakes

  • 1 28 oz 1 can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (crushed by hand)

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 torn basil leaves plus a handful ribboned and reserved for garnish

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 grated Pecorino Romano plus ¼ cup for sprinkling

  • salt and sugar, to taste

  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed


  • Put a large pot of water on to boil.
  • In a large saucepan with a thin coat of olive oil, render the guanciale over low heat, turning the pieces occasionally until the fat has nearly dissolved and the meat slightly crisped (10 minutes).
  • Remove the guanciale with a slotted spoon and reserve (leaving the rendered fat).
  • Add the onions and red pepper flakes to the pan and soften over medium heat until the onions are translucent (10 minutes).
  • Raise the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.
  • Add the 1/4 cup basil to the sauce.
  • Salt the boiling water aggressively and add the bucatini.
  • Stir until the boil returns and stir occasionally until two minutes short of package-instructed cooking time for al dente.
  • Transfer the noodles directly to the saucepan (i.e. do not drain in a colander).
  • Raise the heat slightly and coat the noodles repeatedly with sauce, simmer until al dente (two minutes more).
  • Off the heat, add ½ cup of Pecorino and toss.
  • Plate the pasta and give each a swirl of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of the remaining cheese, and top with the ribbons of basil.


  • Photo courtesy of Roboppy on Flickr

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