March 28, 2019

Ask A Chef: Spaghetti Carbonara

Recipe: Rob Gentile

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Chef director Rob Gentile of Toronto’s Buca shares his recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara.

Ask A Chef director Rob GentileQ: Spaghetti carbonara seems like one of those recipes that I should be able to make at home, but restaurant versions always taste so much better! The carbonara at Buca is a standout: its rich, velvety texture is so decadent. What makes it so good? – Nick, Toronto

A: Rob Gentile boosts the flavor of his carbonara by incorporating a couple of things that aren’t part of the classic recipe (white wine and sweet onion), but the real trick is using high-quality ingredients. Make sure the eggs are farm fresh, and seek out guanciale (cured pork cheek) from a butcher or Italian specialty store — its flavor and the way it melts in your mouth are a big part of what makes this dish.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup guanciale, or cured pork cheek, sliced into strips
  • 1⁄2 cup finely diced Spanish onion
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine
  • 450–500 g dried spaghetti (Rummo brand recommended)
  • 2–3 cups pasta water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1⁄2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Crotonese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Yield: Serves 4

Sauté Guanciale And Onions

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add guanciale and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add onions and cook for 3 minutes, until soft. Add white wine, stirring to scrape up any bits on bottom of pan, and reduce heat to low.

Cook Pasta

  1. Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, or about half the time indicated on package. Drain, reserving 2 to 3 cups of pasta water for sauce.
  2. Add pasta to saucepan with guanciale and onions. Turn heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, adding reserved pasta water as needed until pasta is al dente and sauce is absorbed. Remove from heat.

Finish Pasta

  1. Add one egg yolk at a time to pasta, gradually sprinkling in 1⁄4 cup of grated Pecorino while tossing pasta so eggs cook gently and do not scramble. The pasta will gain a creamy consistency.
  2. Once tossed, place pasta in large serving bowl and add salt to taste. Top with remaining grated Pecorino, season with freshly cracked pepper and serve.

Lauren Miller


House & Home March 2019