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Fettuccine Alfredo topped with shrimp, a typically American variation on the original recipe
Fettuccine Alfredo is a pasta dish made from fettuccine tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich coating on the pasta. The term is a synonym for pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (Italian: pasta al burro e parmigiano), one of the oldest and simplest ways to prepare pasta. The dish was named by Alfredo Di Lelio I, a restaurateur who opened and operated restaurants in Rome, Italy, throughout the early to mid 20th century.
Fettuccine with butter and Parmesan cheese was first mentioned in the 15th-century cookbook, Libro de arte coquinaria, written by Martino da Como, a northern Italian cook active in Rome. The name of the dish, "Maccheroni romaneschi" (English: Maccheroni the Roman way), betrays its Roman origin. The dish soon became a staple food in Italy and abroad.
Fettuccine Alfredo has now become ubiquitous in Italian-style restaurants in the United States. In Italy, the dish, which is popular for its simplicity, is typically called "Fettuccine al burro."
Alfredo sauce is often sold as a convenience food in many grocery stores in the United States. Unlike the original preparation, which is thickened only by cheese, the prepared food and fast food versions may be thickened with eggs and/or starch.