Fettuccine alla matriciana

When we first moved to the northern suburbs of Melbourne in the mid 80s, we fell in love with Lygon St. The seemingly endless rows of restaurants seemed to offer a boundless supply of Italian cuisine options. But the one that became our family go-to was a trattoria called Papa Ginos that was opened back in 1973 and is still run by the same family that started it. Papa Ginos is known for its generous portions and informality ... at the time we lived on a tight budget so it suited us just fine. I took friends there and we sat in the dim light feasting on good food and wine without the expensive tab. And whenever we found ourselves with the privilege of eating out in those early days, we'd gravitate back to the complementary bowls of bread and more-than-enough entree size bowls of hearty deliciousness.

The first dish I ever ordered there was fettuccine alla matriciana. I loved it so much that for many years, whenever we were lucky enough to be dining out in an Italian restaurant, the first thing I would do is check if they had a matriciana dish on the menu, and if so, I would have it. It took me many years to branch out! (But the truth is I still scan the menu for matriciana!!)

I'm not sure how authentic to the Roman sauce the Papa Gino's version is, but when I make it, I still base it on my memory of that dish that converted me to trattoria style dining so many years ago. I've never made it in the little kitchen in the van before tonight so I was excited to roll it out, especially as we had a bottle of our home made passsata in the cupboard.



about 30 mins 


  • Saucepan for boiling the pasta
  • Pan to make the sauce
  • knife and chopping board
  • colander
  • grater for the parmesan

  • oil (decent glug)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 4 rashes of shortcut bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bottle (400ml) of passata 
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes 
  • 3 or 4 dollops of cream
  • 200g fettuccini

  1. bring saucepan of salted water to the boil
  2. Sauté onions and bacon in the oil until the bacon starts to crisp (about 10 mins)
  3. Add garlic and stir for about a minute until the flavour is released
  4. Add the passata and chilli and allow to simmer
  5. Add the pasta to the saucepan and cook until al dente
  6. Drain pasta, return to saucepan and stir through a glug of oil to stop it sticking together.
  7. Add the cream to the sauce, turn off the heat and stir through.
  8. Serve the pasta into bowls and spoon the sauce over the top, garnishing with the grated parmesan.



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