Amatriciana: the flavor of Rome

Amatriciana is one of those recipes that has got an eternal aura that defies the time. Despite it had undergone substantial changes, such as the addition of tomatoes, it remains a dish handed down from generation to generation.

It is a very rich condiment based on four basic ingredients: the guanciale (pork cheek), the tomato, the pepper and the pecorino.

Together with Carbonara and Cacio e pepe it is one of the typical dishes of Rome.

But let’s see a little bit of history.

Amatriciana – A bit of history

The spread of the Amatriciana is due to a woman of Amatrice, Anna De Angelis, who left her country arriving in Rome with a “mappatela”, a haversack with homemade dried pasta, slices of seasoned pork, pecorino cheese and wild herbs. She stopped near the station and she began to prepare the original version of the Amatriciana: it was immediately a success that won the approval of all gourmets.

To find the Amatriciana, however, in a real recipe book it will be necessary to wait for 1927: Ada Boni inserts it in her book The Talisman of Happiness. There is some difference with today’s recipe such as the use of onion. However, the value of this dish is underlined, recognizing its local characteristic: “Despite their provincial title, they are instead a characteristic dish of Roman cuisine, a specialty sought in many taverns and trattorias in Rome.

The first recipe more similar to what we call “traditional” is that of Pellaprat in 1965 in La cucina familiare: in fact, it provides cubed guanciale (pork cheek), peeled tomatoes, grated pecorino cheese, pepper and onion (although this ingredient disappears at the end of the Nineties).

Among those who use the pork cheek and those who use the bacon there has always been a very bad relationship. The Amatriciana purists use the pork cheek because it has a more compact and more flavorful structure. The tomato puree is also preferred compared to the fresh tomato because it wraps the pasta better.

The trick for a perfect Amatriciana, however, lies in the creaming: there are no secrets but little tricks.

First of all, cook the tomato sauce for at least 20 minutes to remove the acidity. It is necessary to drain the pasta a few minutes before being cooked al dente in order to finish the cooking directly in the sauce in the pan, adding also a little of cooking water if necessary. Add crispy guanciale and pepper in abundance. It is also important to add the pecorino just at the end, with the fire off.

Amatriciana – The Recipe


500 g spaghetti

125 g pork cheek

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

A drop of dry white wine

400 g tomato puree


100 g pecorino cheese


1/2 glass of water

Preparing time 10 min

Cooking time 20 min

Serves 4


  1. Put oil and pork cheek cut into strips into a pan. Leave to brown over high heat and then blend with the wine. Remove the browned guanciale from the pan and set it aside.
  2. Put the tomato sauce and half glass of water into a large pan, add salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Cook the pasta and drain it al dente.
  4. Put the pasta into the pan of the tomato: add the pork cheek, a pinch of pepper and pecorino cheese. Mix vigorously.
  5. Serve hot by adding more grated pecorino.

Enjoy your Amatriciana!

Related post

  • ragù alla bolognese

    Ragù alla bolognese: a must of traditional Italian cuisine

    Ragù alla bolognese is one of the sauce most characteristic of Italian cuisine is what...

  • pasta class rome & cacio e pepe

    How to make a real cacio e pepe

    Cacio e pepe, cheese and pepper is an institution of Rome. It represents the popular soul...

  • Sorrento Gnocchi: a breath of tradition in a dish

    Sorrento Gnocchi are a typical dish of Naples, born in the Sorrento area. It is...