copertina Literary menu of typical Roman cooking

Claudio Gargioli

Claudio Gargioli is the chef at the Armando al Pantheon restaurant in Rome.

This is not only a cookbook.

What’s in the book:


Take a decorated “tre gamberi” chef listed in the 2014 Gambero Rosso guide, an enterprising father who started the business and a brother willing to do a little bit of everything. Mix them with a daughter eager to learn the culinary art, a fantastic restaurant listed as one of the top ten trattorias in Rome by British daily The Guardian, situated meters from one of the capital’s most beautiful squares, the Pantheon. The book includes a selection of  traditional Roman recipes from the ambassador of contemporary cooking.

Lunch at the Gargioli’s place will always leave you feeling happy. Located in the heart of Italy’s ancient capital city, the restaurant boasts an address that oozes Romanness, but not the loud, flashy kind plastered all over the many dubious signs to be seen in this tourist quarter of Rome, where tourist-trapping, pseudo-restaurants and pretend delicatessens selling pizza by the metre to Americans insult the eternal city’s beauty. At Armando al Pantheon, we take our heritage a heck of a lot more seriously. For three generations, dad Armando’s recipes have resisted the temptation to take the easy way out. The rest of the family, all faithful and passionate keepers of tradition, are now at the helm of a business that attracts discerning (and less discerning) tourists, local gourmets and everyday foodies alike. 

Bucatini all’amatriciana 

(Pasta with pork and tomatoes)

Amatriciana is another of those dishes that are part of Armando al Pantheon’s history. The dish is named after a town in Lazio called Amatrice. But is that really important? The wholesomeness of the ingredients and its overall simplicity are what really make it one of the city’s tastiest dishes. 

Ingredients (serves 6):

600 g (1¼ pounds) bucatini pasta

125 g (4½ oz) guanciale (cured pig’s jowl)

6-7 (San Marzano) tomatoes 

100 g (3½ oz) grated Pecorino Romano cheese 

½ glass dry white wine

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

So, you’re in the kitchen and you’ve told all your friends in the other room that your amatriciana is the best in Rome and you can't wait to show them.

Start by filling up a large pot with hot water, salt it and put it on to boil. While you’re waiting to throw in the bucatini, make the sauce that will wow your guests.

Pour some extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan, as that’s where you’re going to cook the superior quality guanciale. Chop it into thick strips and fry until crisp in the oil. Now it’s time works to simmer with white wine, a Castelli Romani works great. Reduce then take the guanciale out of the pan right away and set aside.

Add six or seven San Marzano tomatoes to the pan along with the oil and fat released by the pig's jowl. Flatten them with a wooden spoon and simmer for a few minutes. That's the sauce taken care of. Tip the pasta into the boiling water, and while you're waiting, grate the Pecorino Romano, the one with the black rind and nicely matured.

Transfer the crispy guanciale back into the pan where the sauce is waiting, then tip in the pasta, cooked al dente.  Toss together and split into portions, being careful not to splash your outfit (bucatini are terrible for this). Sprinkle with Pecorino and a grating of black pepper.

The applause will be deafening and no doubt you'll be stuck with the burden (or honour) or inviting your friends for dinner another ten, hundred, million times so they can savour your super Amatriciana, time and time again. 

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