Bucatini with Pancetta, Tomato, and Onion Recipe | PBS Food

Bucatini with Pancetta, Tomato, and Onion

Bucatini with Pancetta, tomato, and onion

This dish is a favorite recipe that I serve to my children and grandchildren. It’s a classic Roman-style pasta sauce that my Roman son-in-law, Corrado, appreciates every time I serve it.

My Nonna Rosa was more known for her traditional Istrian fresh pastas, simple dry pastas reign in the southern part of Italy. I have enjoyed the classic Bucatini Amatriciana with pancetta, tomato, and onion on many an occasion to Rome!

Recipe from Lidia's Italy.com (Photo Credit: Tavola Productions)


Prep time: 10 Minutes

Cook time: 30-40 Minutes

Yield: Serves 6


  • Kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Four ¼-inch-thick slices pancetta or jowl bacon (about 6 ounces), cut into 1½-inch julienne strips
  • 2 whole dried red peperoncini (hot red peppers), or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • One 28 oz canned italian plum tomatoes (preferably san marzano) crushed by hand plus more if needed
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for passing


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pancetta, and cook until rendered but not crisp, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the peperoncini, the tomatoes, and 1 cup water sloshed from the tomato can, and bring to a boil.
  6. Adjust the heat to a simmer, and season lightly with salt.
  7. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  8. While the sauce cooks, cook the pasta.
  9. When the pasta is al dente and the sauce is ready, remove the pasta with tongs and transfer directly to the sauce.
  10. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce, adding a splash of pasta water if it seems dry.
  11. Check the seasoning, and add salt if necessary.
  12. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle with the grated cheese, toss, and serve, passing additional grated cheese separately if you like.
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