Pasta alla Amatriciana

We’ve covered three of the four pastas of Rome – and here is the final dish – Pasta alla Amatriciana


What are the Four Pastas of Rome?

The four pastas of Rome are cacio e pepe, gricia, carbonara and amatriciana. They are all made using the same technique of vigorous mixing to form a sauce with the cheese and pasta water. It take practice.

My first try the cheese all clumped up and didn’t melt into the sauce. I thought perhaps I had the pasta and water too hot – and the cheese not grated down enough. So I tried again, letting everything cool a little and grinding the cheeses up in the food processor. The finely ground cheese just melted into the pasta and came out amazing!

Cacio e Pepe

The foundation of the four is cacio e pepe – literally means cheese and pepper. The ancient shepherds carried with them cacio cheese, dried spaghetti  and pepper. With these megar ingredients, they could whip up a delicious, satisfying meal in the fields.


This past is typically made with spaghetti or bucatini and tossed, vigorously, with pecorino romano and parmesan reggiano cheeses, some fresh ground black pepper and a little pasta water. Sound easy? Well – success is in the technique. For more information and the recipe, click here.

Pasta alla Gricia

The next pasta on the list – pasta alla gricia. This one is almost exactly like cacio e pepe, with the addition of guanciale. Guanciale is a cured pork jowl (or cheek), similar to bacon but saltier. It’s origins go back to ancient Roman times.

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This pork is diced, then cooked until the fat is rendered.

I couldn’t find any information on the traditional type of pasta. It looks like it all depends on what you have on hand!  Click here for the recipe.

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara, probably the most well known of the four. The sauce on this one is sort of a combination of the cacio e pepe and the gricia with some egg added to the mix. It’s usually on spaghetti, but I’ve seen it on penne and rigatoni too. I used pappardelle.


It’s origins aren’t as easy to follow as the ancient two. There is speculation that it was inspired by a pasta from Naples – cacio e uova, meaning cheese and eggs. Click here for more information and the recipe.

Pasta alla Amatriciana –

And the last of the four, Pasta alla Amatriciana. Just a few ingredients – pecorino romano cheese, tomatoes, guanciale, and some red chili flakes. This pasta is typically on rigatoni and has a rich, creamy, tomatoey sauce.


This peasant sauce is said to have been passed down generations from father to son. Since we know tomato sauce came around in the late 1600s, we know it was soon after that. This delicious sauce was born in the town of Amatrice.  It is believed this recipe was passed down orally from father to son.  The first written record of this sauce was in 1816 when it was served at the court of the Pope.

All of these pastas are really about the sauce. You can serve them using any pasta you have on hand or the pasta you like the best (I love orecchiette). Once you get the hang of the stirring up the sauce, you’ll make all of these again and again.

The Saucing Technique (Practice makes perfect)

This is the most important part of the pasta. If it isn’t done right, you’ll have clumps of melted cheese instead of a creamy sauce. Not quite as bad as clumps is tiny grated chunks that don’t melt. The goal is a cream sauce.

Cook the pasta in a large, tall pot. When it is slightly al dente (just slightly done), drain it, but be sure to save one cup of the pasta water. There is flavor and starch in it that will really help to create a creamy sauce.

Put the pasta back in the pot and let it cool slightly. Add 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water and stir briskly.

Add just a splash of cold water to finely grated romano and parmesan cheese with fresh cracked pepper.

Stir it with a fork to make a paste.

Drop the paste on top of the pasta,


then stir fast and hard for about 3 to 4 minutes. The harder and faster the better – almost like whisking with a spoon. Add a more pasta water, a little at a time, if the sauce is too thick.

When everything is well blended into a creamy sauce, serve it immediately!

Making the Pasta alla Amatriciana

This dish is a little different than the other three. It has a delicious tomato base with all the delicious cheese. You can use any kind of pasta, but I used rigatoni.

This pasta is prepared a little different than all the other. It includes tomatoes and some crushed pepper, giving it a little zip!

Cook the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the water when it’s drained.

While it’s cooking, cook the guanciale in a dutch oven until most of the fat is rendered.


Add the crushed tomatoes, chili flakes and fresh cracked pepper, about 10 turns.

Stir and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the pasta to the pot with just a splash of the pasta water.


Next add the cheese and stir vigorously for two to three minutes,

until it’s melted and blended with the rest of the sauce.

Serve hot, topped with a little more parmesan.

© Copyright 2024 The Lazy Gastronome

5 from 6 votes
Pasta alla Amatriciana

A delicious traditional pasta with tomatoes, cheese and some chili flakes for a little zip!

Course: Main Course, main dish, Pasta, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Roman
Keyword: bell pepper, chili flakes, fire roasted tomatoes, guanciale, pancetta, parmesan regiano, romano, Rome
Servings: 4 servings
Author: HelenFern
  • 8 oz. dry pasta
  • 8 oz guanciale or pancetta
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 10 - 12 turns cracked black pepper
  • 1-1/2 oz parmesan reggiano
  • 1/2 oz pecorino romano
  • more parm for garnish
  1. Cook the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the water when it's drained.

  2. While it's cooking, cook the guanciale in a dutch oven until most of the fat is rendered.

  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, chili flakes and fresh cracked pepper, about 10 turns.

  4. Stir and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

  5. Add the pasta to the pot with just a splash of the pasta water.

  6. Next add the cheese and stir vigorously for two to three minutes, until it's melted and blended with the rest of the sauce. Add a little more pasta water if it's too dry.

  7. Serve hot, topped with a little more parmesan. 

Recipe Notes


© Copyright 2024 The Lazy Gastronome


Leave me a comment – I’d love to hear your thought

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10 Responses to Pasta alla Amatriciana

  1. Pingback: Pasta alla Gricia - The Lazy GastronomeThe Lazy Gastronome

  2. Pingback: Cacio e Pepe - The Most Well Known Pasta of Rome - The Lazy GastronomeThe Lazy Gastronome

  3. Amy Liu Dong says:

    5 stars
    Wow! This dish looks incredibly delicious! Another pasta recipe that everyone will love and enjoy! We can never go wrong with pasta! Loved it!

  4. Andréa says:

    5 stars
    This looks really delicious!

  5. BERNADETTE says:

    Amatriciana is my favorite. I love its delicate flavor. Thanks for sharing these recipes and techniques.

  6. DK Park says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe!
    It is so delicious and it is so easy to make. I made this and everyone at home loves it!

  7. Swathi says:

    5 stars
    Pasta Alla Amatriciana looks delicious great meal, my kids will love it.

  8. Kim Beaulieu says:

    5 stars
    The perfect pasta! This is such a great recipe. We all loved it.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    Such great recipes! The perfect comfort meal.

  10. Pingback: Pasta Carbonara - The Lazy GastronomeThe Lazy Gastronome

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