Chef Marcella Hazan's Amatriciana - Tomato Sauce with Pancetta and Chili Pepper

Excerpted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Copyright © 1992 by Marcella Hazan. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped fine
  • ¼-inch-thick slice of pancetta, cut into strips ½ inch wide and 1 inch long
  • 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, drained and cut up
  • Chopped hot red chili pepper, to taste
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated romano cheese
  • 1 pound pasta


Recommended pasta: It’s impossible to say “all’amatriciana” without thinking “bucatini.” The two are as indivisible as Romeo and Juliet. But other couplings of the sauce, such as with penne or rigatoni or conchiglie, can be nearly as successful.

  1. Put the oil, butter, and onion in a saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. Sauté the onion until it becomes colored a pale gold, then add the pancetta. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring once or twice. Add the tomatoes, the chili pepper, and salt, and cook in the uncovered pan at a steady, gently simmer for 25 minutes. Taste and correct for salt and hot pepper.

  2. Toss the pasta with the sauce, then add both cheeses, and toss thoroughly again.

The Roman town of Amatrice, with which this sauce is identified, offers a public feast in August whose principal attraction is undoubtedly the celebrated bucatini—thick, hollow spaghetti—all’Amatriciana. No visitor should pass up, however, the pear-shaped salamis called mortadella, the pecorino—ewe’s milk cheese—or the ricotta, also made from ewe’s milk. They are among the best products of their kind in Italy.

When making Amatriciana sauce, some cooks add white wine before putting in the tomatoes; I find the result too acidic, but you may want to try it.