Pancetta is an Italian style of bacon made from pork belly side and highly seasoned with salt and pepper. Other herbs and spices are sometimes used to season pancetta. The pork belly side is rolled tightly, wrapped in a casing and cured.
Both bacon and pancetta are made from pork belly side. The main difference between bacon and pancetta is the preparation method, which produces two distinct products. Bacon is brined unlike pancetta. Both are cured, but only bacon is smoked. After the pork belly side is rolled, the pancetta hangs until it dries.
Panetta is used in recipes sliced thin and fried. When used in recipes, the meat is often cut into chunks. Pancetta adds a pork flavor to the dish without the smoky flavor that comes with bacon. Regular bacon is a suitable substitute in recipes. Blanching bacon in boiling water before using in place of pancetta helps reduce the smokiness, states Fine Cooking.
Delis often have pancetta available. The meat comes in the large roll with casings. The deli can slice the meat for customers who want thin slices rather than chunks. If a regular grocery store doesn't carry pancetta, an Italian grocer or deli likely carries the meat.