real life test kitchen: roman style spaghetti

I have a small repetoire of pasta dishes I create again and again. Most of those I love because they come close to recreating a pile of perfection I consumed in Italy on a trip long ago.

Well, I am trilled to share with you my new go-to pasta sauce: It’s called Roman Style Spaghetti, but it is basically an Amatriciana — tomato sauce with onion and pancetta (bacon). It’s so insanely simple, and it really does taste as good as the stuff I have had in Piazza Navona. My only tip would be to buy the best ingredients you can: imported tomatoes, real pancetta, and a good white wine. Here’s my take on this iVillage recipe.

Roman Style Spaghetti or Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

What you need:
1/4 cup of olive oil
a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
yellow onion, finely chopped
half a pound of pancetta, cut into small bits
1/2 a cup (or slightly more if needed) of a dry white wine
1/2 cup + of romano cheese
a generous toss of red pepper flakes
a pound of spaghetti

How to make:
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan until it is really hot. Toss in chopped onion and cook until translucent, about three or four minutes. Add pancetta and cook until slightly browned, about five minutes. Add white wine and allow it to bubble until the wine boils down, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes. While that is happening, boil water with salt for spaghetti, which you should cook al dente. After the onion-pancetta-wine sauce has thickened a bit, add the can of tomatoes. Flavor with red pepper flakes an salt and let it cook for at least fifteen minutes. If it cooks a little longer than that, it only gets better.

Once the pasta is cooked, return it to the pot and mix in with sauce until well coated. Don’t drown the pasta in the sauce — save what’s extra for the table. Add in the romano cheese. Serve with extra sauce, cheese and red pepper. If you have leftovers, you’re very lucky. It tastes better the next day.

A few of my other favorite pasta recipes:

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce

Pasta with zucchini and pistachios

Pasta with broccoli rabe

One pan pasta with garlic and oil

From our partners

I use the same recipe except I use a can of peeled tomatoes. I use San Marzano tomatoes because they fall apart in 10 minutes or so. Yummy!


This is what my parents made when I was a kid in Rome, but we used bucatini, not spaghetti (it was called bucatini all’amatriciana). It’s worth seeking out bucatini if you can find it!