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All About Pasta alla Carbonara

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  • All About Pasta alla Carbonara

You would be hard-pressed to find a Roman who does not love pasta alla carbonara, and it’s essential to know all about this iconic dish. As one of Rome’s four quintessential pasta dishes—alongside gricia, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe—it serves as a culinary symbol of the Eternal City. While there are countless imitations worldwide, nothing compares to the taste of an authentic Roman carbonara.

Join the Local Aromas Foodie Sisters in their latest video episode as they delve into the essence of this classic recipe and explore its history and origins.


The story of carbonara is shrouded in mystery with many conflicting theories about its origin, some suggesting it might not have originated in Italy at all. What we do know is that it’s a relatively modern recipe, first appearing in cookbooks in the 1950s. The name carbonara suggests a connection to coal or mining, but whether it was first prepared over an open fire, created by the coal mining community, or because the cracked black pepper resembled coal dust remains uncertain.

Ingredients and Preparation

Regardless of its origins, the ingredients of carbonara firmly root it in Lazio. The dish features local pecorino romano cheese, which, when combined with beaten eggs and freshly ground black pepper, creates a rich, yellow sauce. This is complemented by crunchy chunks of guanciale (cured pork jowl), a staple in Roman cuisine. While the ingredients are simple, achieving the signature silky sauce without scrambling the eggs requires careful technique. Unlike some international versions that use cream, a true Italian carbonara relies solely on eggs for its creamy texture. Traditionally, carbonara is served with long, thin pasta such as spaghetti, but in Rome, you’ll often find it made with rigatoni, which captures the sauce and guanciale perfectly.

Experience the Roman Classics

For a full understanding of the four quintessential Roman pasta dishes, join our The 4 Roman Pastas Tasting Experience in Rome
or master the art of making them all to perfection in our The 4 Roman Pastas Cooking Class in Rome! 

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