Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
In a saucepan, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the bacon (or pancetta) and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fennel, onion, garlic, bay leaf, crushed pepper and fennel seeds; season with salt and pepper. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel and onion are softened, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste, then the tomatoes, crushing them with a spoon. Stir in the vermouth and basil; simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the sauce; toss to combine. Serve topped with the cheese.