Bucatini all’Amatriciana is served / Getty
Easy to prepare and impressive to serve, bucatini all’amatriciana is a regional Italian pasta made with grated cheese, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and guanciale, or cured pork jowl. Within that seemingly straightforward rubric, however, lies a world of intrigue.
Some cook down onions and garlic with the tomatoes to create a denser, more pungent sauce. Others splash white wine into the mix. Detractors believe these additions overpower the dish’s bright balance.
Black pepper is similarly divisive. While some add it to their finished dish without a second thought, others note that few Romans use black pepper in tandem with red pepper flakes in this or any recipe. Italian food historians also note that dried red peppers were more accessible than black peppercorns in pre-World War II Italy, and thus better suited to everyday fare like sauced pasta. Then again, canned tomatoes weren’t always widely available in Italy either, which adds another wrinkle.