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Bucatini all’Amatriciana: A Taste of Italian Comfort

Published: October 4, 2023
In the bustling tavernas of Rome, the robust and zesty Bucatini al Amatriciana is a staple. Bathed in a vibrant sauce that combines tomato pulp, guanciale (pork cheek) or pancetta, onions, garlic, diverse pepper flakes, and white wine, this pasta dish is a flavorful and satisfying meal. (Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

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While I have an appreciation for the artistry of Molecular Gastronomy and the delights of Nouvelle Cuisine, there’s an unparalleled warmth that classic dishes from various cuisines offer. These are the dishes I turn to when in search of comfort food.

Memories of my childhood favorites mix with the culinary treasures I’ve gathered on my global adventures. I’ve crafted everything from Greek Pastitsio, Turkish Imam-Bayildi, and Iç Pilaf, to the sumptuous Paella of Spanish Catalunya. And when winter’s chill takes hold, I might indulge in a slow-cooked Cassoulet. My palette has also savored the richness of Thai Massamun chicken, Moroccan Harira soup, and of course, Italy’s own Bucatini all’Amatriciana.

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(Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

In the bustling tavernas of Rome, the robust and zesty Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a staple. This pasta is bathed in a vibrant sauce blending tomato pulp, guanciale (pork cheek) or pancetta, onions, garlic, diverse pepper flakes, and white wine. A generous sprinkle of grated pecorino cheese crowns the dish. This culinary gem owes its name to the charming town of Amatrice in Lazio, near Rome. I treasure the recipe I procured 40 years ago from Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, a renowned Michelin-starred restaurant in Milan.


  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale, pancetta, or non-smoked bacon (chopped)
  • ½ tsp. blended Arbol, Habanero, and Jalapeño crushed pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can San Marzano peeled tomatoes with juices, hand-crushed
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • ½ cup white wine (options: Italian Verdicchio, Vermentino, or Greek Savatiano)
  • ¾ cup finely grated Pecorino or Locatelli cheese (around 1 oz.)
  • 14 to 16 oz. of Bucatini


  1. In a large skillet or sauteuse, warm the oil over medium heat. Add guanciale or pancetta, frying until golden and crisp (4-5 minutes). Mix in the pepper flakes and black pepper, stirring briefly. Incorporate onions and garlic, sautéing until they soften (around 8 minutes). Introduce the tomatoes and wine, then reduce the heat, allowing the sauce to thicken for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Simultaneously, set a pot of water to boil. Salt the water, then stir in the pasta. Cook until slightly firmer than al dente. Drain, saving ¼ cup of the pasta water.
  3. Combine the pasta with the sauce, tossing thoroughly to ensure even coating. If needed, add the reserved pasta water. Finish by blending in the cheese, then serve in warm dishes.

Personal Touch: For an aromatic twist, I occasionally add 1¼ tsp. of Spaghettata (a Neapolitan spice blend) and a hint (¼ tsp.) of oregano. This provides a flavorful twist to the timeless Amatriciana.

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