Roman Recipes: Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Roman Recipes: Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

This month it's all about comfort food as crisp days, gold-tipped leaves and dipping temperatures herald the onset of autumn. As part of our Rome series, Essteele has identified some beloved recipes that typify many a Roman Nonna's kitchen - and are often a fixture of the Eternal City's classic and contemporary restaurants.

We recommend using a 30cm skillet for this dish.

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

With an emphasis on traditional dishes, chef Anna Dente is known as the Queen of Roman cooking. Here is her famous spaghetti recipe from her restaurant Osteria di San Cesario just south of Rome. Anna recommends making the spaghetti with guanciale or cured hog jowl, we have substituted with pancetta.


  • 85 grams of thickly sliced guanciale or pancetta cut into 1/2 cm strips
  • 1 fresh red chilli ‚stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • One can whole tomatoes chopped, juices reserved
  • 340 grams of dried pasta, such as bucatini, spaghetti or rigatoni
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. In a large skillet, combine the guanciale or pancetta, chilli and bay leaf and cook over moderately low heat until the fat has rendered and the guanciale or pancetta is golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and simmer over moderate heat until it has reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook over high heat until just barely tender.
  5. Drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce.
  6. Cook the pasta over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 2 minutes.
  7. Season with pepper. Spoon the pasta into shallow bowls, generously sprinkle with the grated Pecorino Romano and serve, passing more Pecorino cheese at the table.


The spicy tomato sauce can be refrigerated overnight. Bring it just to a simmer before adding the pasta and finishing the dish.

If using pancetta, cook it in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in step 1 and season the finished sauce with salt.

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