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pasta alla carbonara recipe rome

Pasta alla carbonara: recipe and curiosity

Pasta alla Carbonara is one of the most appreciated Italian dishes in the world and represents the emblem of Roman cuisine.

But if I told you that Pasta alla Carbonara is not a 100% Italian invention, what would you think?

The history of Pasta alla Carbonara has its origins in fact in the period of the Second World War: it is said that the American Soldiers in that period were in the areas between Lazio, Molise and Campania and were able to taste and become fond of pasta “Cacio e ova” from Abruzzo.

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The story goes that the American Soldiers, nostalgic for their land, joined to this recipe also the guanciale and smoked bacon to replicate the classic ingredients of the American breakfast.

Thus, combining all these ingredients, Pasta alla Carbonara was born.

These were the flavours that reminded the soldiers of their home and the Romans immediately adopted the recipe, which was then passed down from family to family.

pasta alla carbonara recipe rome

As far as the name Carbonara is concerned, according to one of the most accredited theories, the name Carbonara is linked to the presence of ground black pepper, which in the traditional recipe should blacken the pasta to the point of making it appear to be covered with coal dust.

Others believe instead that the name derives from the woodcutters who worked on the Apennines collecting wood to make coal.

However, there are many other versions that are handed down about the origin of the name Carbonara.

The Romans are very careful about the preparation of the real carbonara and before listing the ingredients and the method of preparation, it is good to specify some rules to prepare a Pasta alla Carbonara to perfection:

  • The pasta should be long: so you can go ahead with bavette or bucatini, but to be on the safe side and not to make mistakes, the ideal is to choose spaghetti. However, other pasta formats are also accepted.
  • Always use the guanciale, better if from Amatrice (do not use neither pancetta) or bacon.
  • Use only pecorino (Roman). No parmesan.
  • The egg should not be cooked. You must avoid the “omelette effect”, i.e. avoid adding the egg to the pot while it is on the stove.
  • No garlic and no onion
  • No chili pepper
  • Do not use other spices than pepper
  • No cream

roman cuisine pasta carbonara recipe

Ingredients of Pasta alla Carbonara

  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 80 grams of guanciale
  • 1 large spoonful of grated pecorino cheese
  • q.b. of peppercorns to grind


In a bowl beat the egg yolks with a whisk for a couple of minutes, then add the pecorino cheese and pepper and beat for another minute. Then keep the cream aside.

Cut the guanciale into strips and brown it in a pan, starting with the flame at minimum so that it “throws out the fat” and then raising the flame until the guanciale becomes crunchy.

Cook the pasta in slightly salted water, set aside half a cup of cooking water and drain the pasta al dente.

Wait for 30 seconds so that the pasta cools slightly and then pour it into the pan with the egg cream and stir quickly, also adding the guanciale. If the egg comes into contact with a temperature above 75°C, in fact, it will cook very quickly, thickening and ruining the perfect Carbonara.

If necessary, add the cooking water a little at a time until the desired degree of creaminess is reached. It is important to stir quickly and well because the secret of the carbonara’s creaminess is also this one.

The final touch is the addition of more freshly grated pecorino and an additional pinch of pepper.

Would you like to try the original pasta alla carbonara and many other traditional dishes in one of the most popular places in Rome? Try our food tour in Rome Trastevere!

We are waiting for you and… enjoy your meal!