How to cook pasta alla Gricia x Garofalo pasta

Rome has plenty to answer for when it comes to fantastic comforting pasta recipes. It is the place to visit if you want the best CARBONARA, CACIO E PEPE or even AMATRICIANA. However, there is a fourth that hasn’t really made it over the channel and that pasta dish is ‘ALLA GRICIA’. I didn’t know it even existed until I spent a week eating my way through Rome a few years back.

It’s made up of 3 key ingredients. GUANCIALE (cured pork cheek), PECORINO ROMANO (salty hard cheese) and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER. It has the creamy consistency of cacio e pepe, but has the salty crispy guanciale found in a carbonara or amatriciana.

The simplicity of this recipe is what makes it so special, having taste buds focus on the flavour created by this fabulous trio. However, there is one more addition that brings this dish together and that is PASTA WATER. So the quality of the pasta used in this dish is extremely important as we need the best starchy pasta water to create the best ALLA GRICIA ever.

Traditionally eaten with dry spaghetti or rigatoni, there is no better pasta than Garofalo to create this dishe here in the UK.

rigatoni alla gricia in a pasta bowl, in a large frying pan with a bag of Garofalo rigatoni, pecorino romano and guanciale on an orange checked table cloth

Garofalo pasta

Using only the best quality semolina flour, their pasta has a high protein content, which helps retain starch, hold its shape and give that perfect ‘al dente’ texture that we should all be looking for. Secondly, Garofalo pasta is bronze-died, which gives the pasta a rough, porous surface. So a lovely oil-based creamy sauce, like in ‘alla gricia’ will perfectly bind and cling to it giving you an amazing pasta eating experience.

Made in Gragnano, a city in the province of Naples, it’s better known as the ‘city of pasta‘. The pasta produced here is of such a high standard that even the European Commission has given it an IGP status (guarantee of origin for foods produced in specific areas; Italy).

There are a few other important tips that I have highlighted for you in the TIPS section below, that will help create the perfect ‘Alla Gricia’ dish. Plus, if you would like to buy Garofalo pasta make sure to check out Ocado, Amazon or local special Italian food stores to fill your stock cupboards up with.

Pasta alla gricia (2 people)

  • 150g guanciale or pancetta, chopped into matchstick

  • 60g grated pecorino romano cheese or (Parmiggiano reggiano), finely grated

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 250g Garofalo pasta

  • Sea salt


  • First, bring a large pan of water to the boil.
  • Next, add your guanciale to a hot frying pan. Cook it on a low heat until the fat has beautifully rendered and gone crisp. This can take up to 10 minutes. Remove the guanciale from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving as much fat in the pan as possible
  • In the meantime, salt your pasta water and cook your pasta 2 minutes less instructed on the packet.
  • When your pasta is cooked, add it to the frying pan which is on a low/medium heat and coat it with the hot rendered fat. Add a small ladle of pasta water and keep the pasta cooking in the pan.
  • When the water has absorbed, add half of the cheese and a little bit more pasta water until the cheese has melted and gives the sauce a creamier texture.
  • Repeat with the rest of the cheese.
  • Next add the guanciale back in and add plenty of black pepper. Give everything a good toss through so all the ingredients are well coated together. Serve immediately


  1. Make sure your pasta pan is nice and large so that your pasta has plenty of room to cook in.
  2. There is no need to add olive oil when frying the guanciale. It will slowly release its own fat which we need for this recipe.
  3. When seasoning your pasta water, make sure you wait at least 30 seconds before you add your pasta. This gives it time to dissolve and season the water evenly. Plus ensure it tastes as salty as the sea. You are also want to undercook your pasta as we are going to finish it’s cooking in the guanciale fat.
  4. The starchy pasta water and the fat will emulsify to create a creamy texture.
  5. You want to keep the sauce cooking and reducing. Make sure the sauce is not too watery.
  6. Same as above

**This recipe is a paid collaboration with Garofalo pasta.

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