Bucatini alla Amatriciana, Rossa (red)

Classic Roman recipe with too many variations.  It’s very easy to make, yet it’s difficult to find an excellent preparation in most restaurants.  Try my recipe – most of my friends love it.  It’s my youngest daughter’s favorite pasta recipe. As always, the quality of the ingredients is key.  You may need to go to a specialty grocer (such as Whole Foods) in order to find the guanciale or pancetta this recipe calls for.  You also need to get imported Italian Pecorino cheese, preferably in a small block that you can grate yourself.

This recipe relies on you cooking the Bucatini in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time specified on the box.  The reason for this is that you drain the almost-cooked Bucatini, then add it with the other ingredients and cook it on high heat for a couple more minutes. This allows the flavors from the sauce to absorb into the pasta noodle, creating a more flavorful pasta.  

Note: If you cannot find either guanciale or pancetta, you can use thick-cut bacon, but the flavor will not be as good.

Bucatini alla Amatriciana, Rossa (red)

Dr. Michele Carbone bucatini


  • 1 box  of Bucatini style pasta
  • 8 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 red onion, diced  
  • 8 oz.  of “guanciale” or “pancetta, cut in thick slices of about (about ¼ of an inch thick by ¼ inch wide and ¼ long)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil  
  • Red pepper flakes, or  1 fresh Thai pepper chopped very finely (put as little or as much red pepper as you like)
  • 1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • Note: Garlic is NOT part of the original recipe, but I like this recipe with it, so I use it.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Put a large pot of water to boil on the stove – it should be boiling by the time you get to step 4 of this recipe.
  2. In an 8-inch skillet, add the guanciale or pancetta, chopped onion, garlic, optional red pepper, and olive oil.
  3. Start the heat at medium low and cook slowly for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add the box of Pomi tomatoes to the pan and raise the heat to medium or medium/high (depends how powerful your stove is, should be just bubbling slowly, not boiling). Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, then drain the bucatini in the colander.
  5. Put the bucatini into the boiling water in the large pot.  As soon as the water starts to boil again after the bucatini has been added, use a long-handled wooden spoon to stir the pasta so that nothing sticks to the bottom.
  6. 2 minutes before the cooking time specified on the box of bucatini, the bucatini will be cooked but still “al dente,” remove the pot from the stove and pour the water and pasta into a colander.  
  7. Put the empty pasta pot back on the stove, add the drained bucatini and quickly pour the contents of the skillet (with the pancetta, onion, Pomi tomatoes, etc) to the pot.
    1. Turn the heat to high (if you have a “normal” family stove, to medium if you have a “professional” high BTU stove), and stir the bucatini with the ingredients from the skillet, making sure the bucatini is well-mixed with the ingredients from the skillet.
  8. After 2 minutes of cooking the bucatini with the sauce, turn off the heat and add the freshly grated Pecorino cheese.
  9. Mix well and serve immediately.
  10. Buon appetito!

Italian version of this recipe:

  • Pancetta o guanciale e cipolla a pezzettini, 1 spicchio d’aglio schiacciato, 1 cucchiaio d’olio, fuoco medio basso per un totale di circa 20min
  • Aggiungere uno scatolo di Pomi o altri pelati a pezzetti, alzare il fuoco a medio/medio alto, -fate si che bolle appena, girare spesso.
  • Allo stesso tempo calare la pasta, scolarla dopo circa dieci minuti ancora molto al dente, rimetterla in pentola di cottura, aggiungere il sugo dalla padella, mischiare bene 2 minuti su fuoco forte, mettere in tegame, aggiungere pecorino e servire.