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This Delicious Pasta Alla Gricia Is Summer on a Plate

Words & Recipe by Romilly Newman.

No pasta has a hold on me quite like Alla Gricia. There are many reasons why I love this dish so much. Most simply, because it’s a mixture of cheese, guanciale, fresh black pepper, and pasta. Less obviously, because when I first tried it two years ago, it felt like I’d won the jackpot. The Alla Gricia recipe is basically a mixture of Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe. It takes what I believe to be the two best parts of both, and combines them in a simple fashion.

This Delicious Pasta Alla Gricia Is Summer on a Plate

Now, I added peas, fresh herbs, and lemon zest to my recipe to make it summery, but traditionally these items would not be present. I also used parmesan, because that’s what I had on hand. The traditional dish is made with pecorino, and I’m really hoping Athena’s Italian mother is not upset with this swap. 

All of this is to say, Alla Gricia, in its simplest form, is a perfect dish. I took the basic concept and ran with it a bit, but hope you’ll still admire the classic elements that make this such a wonderful pasta. As I close my eyes and take a swirl of bucatini lusciously coated in cheese and pork fat, I can almost imagine myself lounging by a vista overlooking the Italian sea.

This Delicious Pasta Alla Gricia Is Summer on a Plate
This Delicious Pasta Alla Gricia Is Summer on a Plate
This Delicious Pasta Alla Gricia Is Summer on a Plate

But the really good thing about this pasta is it tastes good wherever you are. It’s best enjoyed among people you love (or solo!) on lingering summer evenings, that perhaps end a little too late, but happily so. Enjoy!

Summer Alla Gricia

by Romilly Newman


6oz Bucatini (you could also use rigatoni) 

½ cup guanciale, cubed 

1 tsp fresh mint, chiffonade 

1 tsp fresh chives, chopped finely

1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper 

¼ cup fresh English peas* (see note below) 

½ cup parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for serving 

Zest of one Lemon  


Set a large pot of heavily salted water to boil.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed skillet, add guanciale and cook on medium-low heat until thoroughly golden brown. Don’t burn! Once crisp, turn off the heat, add peas and freshly cracked black pepper. 

Add pasta to water and cook according to the box instructions for al dente, making sure to reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. 

While the pasta is cooking, add ½ cup of the cooking water to guanciale and pea mixture and bring to a rapid boil. You want to make sure the fat from the Guanciale and the water join forces to create a sauce, stir if needed.

Once pasta is cooked, add to the skillet with the remaining ½ cup of cooking liquid and the cheese. Toss vigorously with tongs to make sure the cheese and pasta water emulsify to create a silky coating. If it looks too dry, you can add a bit more water, or if it looks too thin, you can add a bit more cheese. Feel it out to the best of your ability. Once a creamy sauce has coated the spaghetti, add lemon zest, herbs (and thawed peas if using), and stir.

Plate pasta and add a bit more parmesan, fresh herbs, and lemon zest. Add a crack of black pepper, and serve immediately! This dish is best as soon as it comes out of the pan! 

*you can easily swap fresh for thawed frozen peas. Just add them at the end, when you add the herbs. 

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