Spaghetti alla Gricia

The Italian region of Lazio (which is the region around Rome) has some of the best simple pasta dishes: Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, and Spaghetti alla Gricia. The ingredients that all of them have in common are spaghetti, pecorino romano cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. Three of them have guanciale, two of them use the pasta cooking water, one has eggs, and one has tomatoes.

I had not blogged about alla Gricia yet, which is also known as Amatriciana ‘in Bianco’ because it is the same as Amatriciana but without the tomatoes. The recipe for alla Gricia is very simple: spaghetti, guanciale, pecorino romano, salt, and black pepper. It is not only very simple but also very tasty!


Guanciale is cured pork jowl, which outside of Italy is difficult to find and therefore substituted with pancetta (cured pork belly). I made Spaghetti alla Gricia to try out my first homemade pancetta and it was delicious. Perhaps next time I’ll make my own guanciale, which is very similar to making pancetta.


For 2 servings

150 grams (.33 lbs) spaghetti

125 grams (.28 lbs) guanciale or pancetta, diced

75 grams (3 oz) freshly grated pecorino romano cheese


freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and spaghetti and cook al dente according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, sauté the diced guanciale or pancetta in a frying pan over medium heat without any added fat.

Continue to sauté until the guanciale or pancetta is just starting to crisp.

When the spaghetti is al dente, drain but reserve some of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the guanciale or pancetta.

Add a few tablespoons of the cooking water.

Add most of the cheese…

…and season liberally with freshly ground black pepper. Toss to mix. The pork fat with the cooking water and the cheese will mix to become a very nice sauce.

Serve immediately on warm plates, sprinkled with the remaining cheese.


The ‘flashbacks’ also help to refresh my own memory, because I’ve just been reminded to make this delicious almond cake again.


21 thoughts on “Spaghetti alla Gricia

  1. Yes!!! That’s what I’m talking about! An authentic Italian recipe without … any tampering! 🙂 Your pasta is so inviting … I can smell it from here. It’s past midnight but I would eat a humongous portion of this.


  2. Very good Stefan, you’re more expert than Italians… My favourite is Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe. If you ever come to Rome I suggest you a place to go and eat them.. Last time we went there with a friend from Milan he had those spaghetti twice…they were so beautiful Ciao Ostriche


  3. Hi Stefan, we appear to be almost neighbours, but I’ve only found you recently via Richard over at REM Cooks.
    I have a number of things that I would love to do with a pig’s head, but struggle to find them here. As in a whole pigs head. I would love to make guanciale, and stews, braun, and Bath Chaps, which needs more than the cheek. Do you have a supplier that I could contact for such things at all?


    1. I’ve just checked with my regular butcher, and you can get a whole pig’s head from him. You should probably call ahead so he can save a head for you. It is Slagerij Raa, Dubbele Buurt 5, Wormerveer, phone 075 628 1486.

      He also said it’s not worth it for him to cut up the pig’s head, so I could only buy the whole head and not just the cheeks to make guanciale. So if you do get a head and have a cheek to spare, let me know 🙂


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