Rigatoni with Bacon, Onion & Balsamic Vinegar (Mezze Rigatoni all'Amatriciana a Modena)

“Pasta Amatriciana is basically spaghetti with onions and bacon. We kids had a hard time pronouncing it so my mom just called it Pasta America, because what American doesn’t like bacon?” — Rachael Ray
rigatoni with bacon, onion, and balsamic vinegar

Recipe by Rachael Ray

  • 4 to 6Servings


  • About 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. meaty guanciale or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sugar or acacia honey
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large fresh bay leaves
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar (the thicker, the better)
  • 1 can (28 oz.) San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 lb. mezze rigatoni, rigatoni, or penne rigate
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for tossing and serving


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. 

2. Heat a large saucepot or skillet over medium to medium-high. Add the oil, three turns of the pan. Add the guanciale and cook, stirring often, until the fat renders, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic; season with the sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the bay leaves and cook, partially covered, until the onions soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the stock and vinegar and cook, stirring often, until absorbed into the onions, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking them up with a spoon. Let the sauce simmer until ready to serve.

3. Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain. 

4. Remove the bay leaves from the sauce.

5. Toss the pasta, cooking water, and a handful of cheese with the sauce until the pasta is coated. Serve in shallow bowls and pass more cheese at the table.