This is, quite possibly my referred pasta dish among the four traditional Roma pastas.  This is the recipe that is often the most screwed up, with many—often disgraceful—variations.  The following is the best recipe, which I copied from “Il Moro,” a trattoria near the Fontana di Trevi (in “Vicolo del Moro) where you can eat the best Carbonara (there it is called Spaghetti al Moro).  Other places in Roma where you can eat an excellent Carbonara are: Maccheroni, in Piazza delle Coppelle, near via della Scrofa; Sora Lella, on the Isola Tiberina; and Roscioli, near Campo dei Fiori.

possibly my referred pasta dish among the four traditional Roma pastas.  This is the recipe that is often the most screwed up, with many—often disgraceful—variations.  The following is the best recipe, which I copied from “Il Moro,” a trattoria near the Fontana di Trevi (in “Vicolo del Moro) where you can eat the best Carbonara (there it is called Spaghetti al Moro).  Other places in Roma where you can eat an excellent Carbonara are: Maccheroni, in Piazza delle Coppelle, near via della Scrofa; Sora Lella, on the Isola Tiberina; and Roscioli, near Campo dei Fiori.

Ingredients

  • ¾ of a pack of spaghetti (about 300-350 grams) (you can also use bucatini or rigatoni)
  • 4 eggs – 1 whole egg, and 3 egg yolks, combined together in a small bowl
  • 0.3 pounds (150 Grams) of pancetta, or guanciale, or if you do not find those, thick sliced pork bacon.  Cut into cubes of about ½ – 1 inch
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Black pepper to taste
  • About 1/2 cup of parmigiano reggiano freshly grated cheese. (I suggest you cut it in 1-inch squares with a knife and put in a Cuisinart to grate).

How to make this recipe

  1. In a medium skillet (padella), put the pancetta/guanciale/bacon, mixed with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
  2. Bring the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes (the intensity of the heat changes depending on the stove; what you want is that in about 15 min, the fat from the pancetta/guanciale/bacon is released, and the pancetta becomes slightly crispy.
    1. It should not become not super-crisp, like the kind of bacon you serve with eggs!
  3. Meanwhile, boil the water in a pot. When it comes to a rapid boil, add the spaghetti.  Mix it with a long-handled wooden spoon so that it separates and does not stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add salt to the pasta water once it has come back to a boil (I usually use about 2 tablespoons of sea salt in the pasta water).
  4. Meanwhile grate the parmigiano (you need about 1/2 of a cup of grated parmigiano reggiano.  I’ve found that Americans often use more parmigiano than Italians do, which ends up covering up the great taste of the food.)
  5. A couple of minutes before the spaghetti is ready, in a small bowl, combine one entire egg + 3 egg yolks.  Beat the eggs with a fork until frothy.
  6. Warm a pasta serving bowl in a microwave oven or with hot water
  7. The following must be done very rapidly, the faster you move, the better the outcome;
    1. Drain the pasta very al dente
    2. Immediately add 3 tablespoons of the grated parmigiano.
    3. Mix the spaghetti and the parmigiano well (20 seconds) so that the spaghetti strands are well-coated with the cheese.
    4. As you mix the pasta, pout the egg mixture over the hot pasta, so that the eggs are “cooked” by the heat from the spaghetti.  (It’s best if you have another person mixing while one person pours – remember, I told you that cooking is a social activity, and it’s fun to engage your family and friends in the kitchen as you cook!)
  8. As soon as step 7 is completed, rapidly mix the pancetta into it, using about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pancetta.
  9. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of parmigiano, black pepper to taste and mix well for another minute or so.  Serve immediately.
  10. Depending whether the bacon you used was salty or not, you may need to add salt.

Important!

This is a fast and easy dish to prepare, yet it is the most easily screwed up recipe I know of.  Unless you move fast at the end –steps 7 through 10 and you eat the pasta immediately, it will not be good.

Suggested Wine Pairing

My preferred wine for this pasta is a Barbaresco (10 or more years old), or a good Barolo of a similar age.  Alternatively, you can pair this with a younger Barbera or Chianti or Cirò Rosso.