Pasta alla gricia, original recipe from Rome

Together with the well known pasta alla carbonara, the pasta cacio and pepe and pasta all’amatriciana, pasta alla gricia is one of the most traditional dish you can find in Rome. It’s so traditional that’s sometimes it’s not easy to eat a good one at the restaurants and that’s why most Romans prefer to make the gricia at home. The recipe of the pasta alla gricia is really really easy to make and the result is a warming dish full of flavors, ideal for a cozy dinner or a friendly one.

It is said that the pasta alla gricia is the forerunner of the amatriciana and it’s even more simple to make given the absence of tomato sauce. Exactly as for the amatriciana no garlic or onion are requested to make the pasta alla gricia and you need to use good pork jowl (guanciale) to obtain the best result possible. Some pecorino cheese is the final touch and it will give your pasta a compelling appeal.

According to the myth, gricia was originally invented by shepherds coming down from the mountains and therefore they used cheaper but easy to find products. It is said that the very first was prepared with “ricotta salata cheese” and not with pecorino which was sold because most profitable. It also seems that originally the oil wasn’t used and the pork jowl was cooked by itself with its own fat.

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 4 onces/115 grams bacon cut into cubes (better if you can find some pork jowl)
  • 16 oz/450 grams rigatoni pasta (or penne as well)
  • 1 Cup/110 grams grated pecorino cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Chili flakes
  • salt


  1. Cut the pork jowl into strips. Heat a frying pan and fry your pork jowl in the oil with some chili flakes until crisp and golden, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the rigatoni pasta for 8-10 minutes (follow the instructions on the pack but be careful because pasta must be cooked al dente) in boiling unsalted water. Put aside some cooking water.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain it quickly in a colander and quickly pour it into the frying pan together with the pork jowl and a little bit of cooking water just to make sure that the flavors blend for good. Add the grated Pecorino cheese and the black pepper.
  4. Serve your rigatoni on a deep plate adding more grated Pecorino cheese and the black pepper.


Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

[Pics by Giuseppe]

About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant. She's an accredited journalist and a certified sommelier. She also won an award as World's Best Food Travel Journalist. She's the co-owner of TheFoodellers and a bunch of other websites.
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