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Roman Spaghetti Carbonara

4 Servings

15 minutes

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Some say spaghetti carbonara emerged after WWII, thanks in part to American soldiers and their packets of MRE eggs. Others say the name is drawn from “carbone,” or charcoal—a reference to the dish's complexion thanks to a copious amount of pepper. Whatever the roots, this brighter take on carbonara came from Pipero Roma, a white table cloth restaurant in Rome. Their secret: Egg yolks are whisked until cooked and slightly foamy creating a sauce that is much lighter in texture than most carbonara recipes. Mixing the yolks with water and cornstarch ensures the cheese won't clump up when tossed with the pasta.




Don’t substitute bacon for the pancetta. The smokiness of the bacon will overwhelm the cleaner flavors of the egg-based sauce.

15 minutes


  • 3

    ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped

  • cups water


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Judy H.
March 12, 2023
Excellent for such a simple recipe
Husband asks for this dish at least a couple times a month. We love it as well as our whole family.
Danielle M.
November 2, 2022
This recipe was wonderful. I used half the cornstarch as my pasta water was concentrated/starchy for binding the sauce.
Scott C.
October 27, 2022
Too rich!
I had high hopes for this carbonara. In the end it was all too rich and too much. Six egg yolks? Maybe three, but six? And the pancetta flavor was somehow buried, despite using more than 3 oz. diced. Next time I'll stick to one of my more traditional carbonara recipes.
Robert H.
December 9, 2023
Soldiers had C-Rations after WWII, not MREs
Just a quick clarification. MREs were first used in the 1980s and went to war in Panama and Desert Storm. C-Rations as well as shiploads of powdered eggs and powdered milk found their way into theaters of war in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Post war Italy is also what led to “Cafe Americano”. Italian coffee houses didn’t make percolator coffee and Americans didn’t understand espresso, to take two shots of espresso and 6 ounces of hot water and Presto! A simulacrum of Percolator coffee similar to what was brewed by the gallon by GIs. War shapes humanity for bad and good and as an army travels on its stomach, there are opportunities to diversify cuisine from both the locals and the invaders.
Ruchita G.

Any ideas for vegetarian substitutes for the pancetta? or dont bother attempting to make this?

Roger E.

I'd just leave it out. It basically becomes a richer version of cacio de pepe which is good on its own.

Ruchita G.

Any ideas of vegetarian substitutes for the pancetta? Or dont bother with this recipe?

Roberto P.

It was ok. Both my parents were born and raised in Italy. Carbonara was a family favorite growing up. I wouldn’t make this again tbh.