Rigatoni alla Gricia (Pancetta and Onion)

45 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 6 ounces pancetta or guanaciale
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 pound rigatoni or other tubular pasta
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

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  1. Cut the pancetta or guanciale into 1/2 inch strips or small cubes.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the pancetta in the olive oil. After a minute or two, add the onion. Cook over low heat until the onion is golden.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  4. Cook the pasta until al dente (about 2 minutes less than package directions). Drain, and retain about one cup of cooking liquid. Add pasta to the pancetta and onion, mix well, and cook over medium heat for minute. Add some of the retained water if it looks dry.
  5. Place the pasta in a serving bowl, add the Pecorino and a generous amount of black pepper. Mix well.
  6. Serve immediately.


In Rome, guanciale is often used, but I prefer the meatier pancetta.

Ed's Review

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore. I’m fighting mad. Fit to be tied. Go ahead, make my day.  Let’s take this outside.

I was recently in a NYC Italian restaurant and asked the waiter for a menu suggestion. His response, “Well, do you eat pasta?” Noticing my look of disgust, he defensively continued, “Well, we are in New York City you know.” Yes, I know, New York City (like Los Angeles) where AK-47′s are considered safer than carbohydrates.

I’m tired of all of the pasta bashing. Twenty years ago, Americans ate only carbohydrates and the country was thinner than it is now. The average Italian consumes three times as much pasta as the average American. Other than what is being caused by imported processed foods and sodas, there is no obesity epidemic in Italy. So listen to me all of you carbophobic pasta bullies, you leave my friend pasta alone. A bowl of pasta will not make you fat; a mountain of pasta may. Eat the pasta, and make it an Italian-sized portion.  It will make you happy. Endorphins and serotonin will set you free. And then take a walk, with a smile on your face. Basta. Enough already. Mangia.

Buon Appetito!

Ed Garrubbo

7 thoughts on “Rigatoni alla Gricia (Pancetta and Onion)”

  1. I just wanted to tell you how much I look forward to your weekly newsletter and your very wonderful recipes. We have Sunday dinner every week and I now have recipes that are totally different than those I make…Thank you for making life easier…

    Warmest regards,

  2. The waiter considered the possibility that you don’t eat pasta because of your svelte physique, Ed, especially compared to the American tourists he’s used to serving there at Olive Garden.

  3. Very nice…
    One of my favorite pasta dishes. I like it more than the holy and everyone`s darling carbonara :D. I make my versions without the onions and use bucatini, but that`s just personal taste. Very good recipe!


  4. Onions!!… and pancetta instead of guanciale? Not alla Gricia then – a bit sacrilege calling it that for any Roman. Not saying it ain’t tasty but ain’t Gricia.

    • I’m not disagreeing with you! “Cause you’re correct! I’ll clarify the purist recipe! p.s. But lots of friends in Rome add onions to this and Amatriciana, but not correctly!


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