Victor’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Victor (left) and Jay, Italy 2010

A special treat for me is our trips to New York City to visit with our dear friend, Victor.  Victor is in the enviable position of spending half of the year in NYC and the other half in Italy.  He always manages to cook up a storm in his tiny NYC kitchen when we visit and I love our long, lingering lunches filled with great food, wine and conversation.  On a recent Sunday afternoon visit, we lingered for hours over his delicious Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The creaminess of his carbonara sauce is always perfection and fortified us against the chilly wind as we headed out for an afternoon in the city. I tried to re-create his perfection this chilly evening at home.  There are many legends as to the history of this Roman recipe – from being named for ‘carbone’ (coal) as a hearty dish to feed the Italian charcoal workers to a dish being prepared over ‘carbone’ (or charcoal). Whatever its origins, the dish became popular among American troops stationed in Italy and upon their return, popularized the dish in North America.  So whip up a batch of this hearty pasta to ward off the winter chill and enjoy! 

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
(Serves four)


3 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces of pancetta (in one chunk), diced

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced

1 pound of spaghetti

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup of grated Parmigiano cheese

Lots of freshly ground red and black pepper

Additional grated Parmigiano for serving


1 large pot for pasta

1 large deep skillet (large enough to hold the pasta)


1. Heat the olive oil in the large skillet over medium heat. Add in the diced pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and the fat is rendered.

2. Add the chopped garlic to the pan and saute for a few minutes to soften. (Be careful not to burn. The garlic should  have a golden brown color). Keep sauce warm on low heat.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook according to package directions until firm (al dente).

4. Set aside about 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta.  Immediately add  the  pasta to the pancetta/garlic sauce to the pot.  Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce.

5.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the eggs, whisking quickly so the eggs thicken but do not scramble.  (It is very important to do this off the heat so the eggs do not scramble.)  Add in the cheese and toss. 

6. Season with lots of freshly ground red and black pepper.

7. Serve the pasta with lots of extra parmigiano! (Be sure to warm the serving plates!)  Buon appetito!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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