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Local markets for Guanciale?

I just read a Bitman article on pasta carbonara and he was pushing using guanciale instead of pancetta or bacon.

While I suspect that I would be able to find some in the North End, I wonder if anyone has seen guanciale in markets around Boston?


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  1. Formaggio South End has had that IIRC (call to check), and, as you note, Salumeria Italiana in the North End has it as well. I would say though that if you can get a good pancetta I think it will do as well....Bittman is probably just trying to raise awareness of less popular salumi though I have not read the article. Where was the article written?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Zatan

      Here's the original article:


      I got to it from his recent blog post:


      Thanks to all for the leads!

      1. re: steinpilz

        Mario Batali uses guanciale for his Spaghetti alla Carbonara too.


      1. Lionettes in the south end pretty much always seems to have it.

        1. Well I know from experience Pace does not carry guanciale... they don't carry speck either....

          1. I've tried it both ways and have not noticed a huge difference in flavor. Disclaimer: I cured both meats myself, and used similar cure mixture/spices, so maybe that is why they were so similar?

            Guanciale is only slightly more meaty in my experience, so has slightly more meaty flavor - but very slight - this seems the main difference.

            Formaggio always seems to have guanciale.

            3 Replies
            1. re: lisa13

              So did you buy a whole pig? If no, how did you acquire the different cuts? Perhaps I'm being naiive, but buying/butchering/curing/freezing a whole pig sounds pretty fun.

              1. re: steinpilz

                actually I bought a half hog - the farmers usually have it butchered to customer specs, then you pick it up and take it home and just go nuts with it =) I can't imagine they would care if you wanted to take it whole/half as-is, without the butchering, and you'd save money, but would have to find a way to dispose of any waste.

                I used to buy from Winrose farm in NH as they free range their pigs - REALLY nice people, too.

                But aside from that, I think you can get these cuts at a good butcher or a place like blood farm. You need pork belly for the pancetta (hell, you can get that in any asian market) and pork jowl for the guanciale (I would also look for these at an asian market just in case).

                1. re: lisa13

                  Savenors' in Cambridge usually has some funky cured meat parts..I don't eat them, but I was really impressed by the selection behind their butcher counter. IIRC, guanciale was one of them...

            2. Dave's Fresh Pasta usually has guanciale.

              Dave's Fresh Pasta
              81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

              1. I've had both guanciale and pancetta and in cooked form I don't think there's a huge enough difference to justify going out of the way and wallet to spring for guanciale.

                There. I said it. Someone has to. I am sure there's some mind-blowing artisinal stuff out there if one works hard enough and pay high enough for it, but to my mind that approach is much more an American gourmand approach than an Italian approach to ingredients.

                12 Replies
                1. re: Karl S

                  Thank you Karl S, I had no idea where to find ti or that it is expensive also.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    You're right Karl. Guanciale just has more fat than pancetta and perhaps a more pronounced flavor, but pancetta does very well in all the recipes where I subbed one for the other. OTOH guanciale is very easy to make, although I have not. Mario Batali has a recipe for guanciale in the link I give below, and his Carbonara recipe is there as well.


                    1. re: Gio

                      Thanks for the validation.

                      I should note it may be easy to make yourself if you have an relatively empty or extra refrigerator for hanging hog jowls, and you have a source for raw hog jowls....

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Thanks for the recipe and good information!

                      2. re: Gio

                        That one is a good sub for the other, I'll agree, Gio. But the suggestion that the differences are limited to amount of fat and potency? I'll fight you to the death on that one. Pancetta and guanciale are no more similar than a macintosh and a honeycrisp.

                        1. re: Dmnkly

                          I haven't found them to be that dissimilar when cooked.

                          1. re: Dmnkly

                            Oh gosh....fight to the death over a piece of pork? No thanks.

                            1. re: Gio

                              If cured pork isn't worth fighting to the death over, what is?!? :-)

                              Matter of opinion I guess, Karl. I used to go through about half a pound per week. Then, I moved and had no place to get guanciale for the past two years (before moving here) and it drove me nuts. The family's favorite pasta just wasn't the same without it.

                              Anyway, I just couldn't let the "they're basically the same" pile-on continue without a counterpoint. It's a matter of opinion, of course, but going without guanciale for the past two years made me sad, and I'm thrilled to have it back.

                              1. re: Dmnkly

                                I didn't say they are basically the same. I was trying to indicate that the differences when cooked were not marked enough to justify anxiety that not having it when you have pancetta would be a deficiency. A lot of people are getting whipped up by professional chefs into higher expectations of a differential than is justified in my opinion. Guanciale is lovely. It's not necessarily more mind-blowing than pancetta. A lot of fairly coarse American palates might be hard-pressed to notice much difference. Particularly, let's say, people who don't notice the difference between carbonara made with egg yolks only versus whole eggs versus eggs plus cream (and that's a LOT of people, including many Chowhounds).

                                I can tell some difference between them (for me, it's more a matter of texture). But I don't think the difference is necessarily worth the price and effort differential to get it.

                                When guanciale becomes as available as pancetta and at a similar price point, I would choose it where appropriate. So I am happy for gourmands to increase demand for it so that supply might follow. But I don't think that people should labor under the idea that guanciale in the US would make a dish more "authentic"; more authentic is to use something at hand that is not too dissimilar, and pancetta ably fits that bill.

                                PS: For your 10 commandments about dried pasta on your blog, may I kibbitz and suggest an 11th: pasta should be served on warmed dishes, especially if it's an unheated sauce (eg, butter and parmigiano, pesto, or the pepe e cacio, aglio e olio and carbornara family of sauces).

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Eeeysh... best not to get started on carbonara with cream :-)

                                  And I'm with you on "authentic"... "authentic", even on the occasions when it can be so clearly defined, is far less important than "good".

                                  I think we're on the same page here... forgive my zeal in rushing to the defense of a pet ingredient :-)

                                  P.S. That's not a bad 11th commandment, though I don't know that I'd consider it pasta-specific. I'll see if there's room left on the stone tablet.

                                  1. re: Dmnkly

                                    Well, pasta with uncooked sauces is one of the situations where it is fundamental and most Americans are clueless about it.

                          2. re: Gio

                            did you use any additional pink salt for curing?
                            i found mario's guanciale recipe a little suspicious because he didnt mention any of inculsion of the pink salt.
                            but i wonder mario batali, in his resturant such as babbo and luppa actually do not add any sort of toxic ingredients such as salt peter in his pancetta or guanciale.
                            if it is tru, i ll go for making the guanciale myself but with considerable caution of food poisoning. anyway, i wish mario would talk about this issue.

                        2. Hands down theeeee place to go for guanciale and all other such delectables is Formaggio's Kitchen on Huron in Cambridge. Of course it will be hard to leave without indulging in iberica jamon while there and the best selection of cheeses in the states.

                          1. If you get stuck, hit Salumeria Italiana in the North End. They always have it.