Fettuccine Alfredo

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Fettuccine Alfredo
Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo.jpg
Fettuccine Alfredo topped with shrimp, a variation from the original recipe
Type Primo
Place of origin Italy
Region or state Lazio
Included in the national cuisines of United States
Creator(s) Alfredo di Lelio
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredient(s) fettuccine, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, butter
Variations (in the US) broccoli, cream, parsley, garlic, chicken, shrimp

Fettuccine Alfredo is a pasta dish made from fettuccine pasta tossed with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and butter. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich coating on the pasta. This denomination is a synonym for pasta with butter and parmesan (Italian: pasta al burro e parmigiano), one of the oldest and simplest way to prepare pasta, and it was named by a Roman restaurateur, Alfredo Di Lelio.[1] While the denomination "Fettuccine Alfredo" is especially popular in the United States, in Italy the dish is largely unknown under that name. The American version of Fettuccine Alfredo, that often adds meat or fish, is usually richer and very different from the original recipe of Alfredo Di Lelio.


Fettuccine with butter and parmesan were first mentioned in the fifteenth century cookbook of Martino da Como (an Italian cook active among others in Rome), "Libro de arte coquinaria".[2] The name of the dish, "Maccheroni romaneschi" (English: Maccheroni Roman way), betrays its roman origin. The dish became soon a staple food in Italy and abroad. [3]

It was popularised amongst US tourists in Rome by restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio who served it with his own name attached:

Fettuccine al burro is associated in every tourist's mind with Rome, possibly because the original Alfredo succeeded in making its serving a spectacle reminiscent of grand opera.[4]

The dish was invented by di Lelio at his restaurant Alfredo in 1914 as a variation of fettuccine al burro. When butter was added both before and after fettuccine was put in the serving bowl, the butter was known as doppio burro (double butter). Di Lelio's "original contribution" was to double the amount of butter in the bowl before the fettuccine would be poured in (thus a triplo burro (triple butter)[5] effect instead of double) which he started doing for his pregnant wife who was having difficulty keeping food down.[citation needed] Alfredo added the new dish to his restaurant's menu when his wife began eating again.

A long-time customer recounted that di Lelio's restaurant became famous when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stopped in and fell in love with the dish while on their honeymoon in 1920. To express their gratitude, they gave him a golden fork and spoon along with a photo of them eating in his restaurant. He proudly displayed the photo on the wall. Pickford and Fairbanks served his dish to their friends and associates when they returned to Hollywood. Word about the new dish quickly spread.[6]

Alfredo di Lelio sold his restaurant 5 May 1943. The new owner kept the restaurant's name, menu, traditional recipes, photos on the wall, and everything else; as of 2011, the restaurant is still in business under the name Alfredo alla Scrofa.[7] Alfredo Di Lelio, together with his son Armando, in 1950 opened again at Piazza Augusto Imperatore his restaurant "Il Vero Alfredo", that is still managed by the grandchildren Alfredo and Ines Di Lelio, continuing the tradition of the original fettuccine created by their grandfather.

That expansion continued in 1977 when Alfredo II and Guido Bellanca opened a new "Alfredo's" by Rockefeller Center in New York City to serve it. The walls of that restaurant are plastered with drawings by Al Hirschfeld - including the rest rooms. Another Alfredo's opened in the Epcot at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista. As of September 2007, the Epcot branch is closed.

Fettuccine Alfredo has now become ubiquitous in Italian-style restaurants in the United States. In Italy the dish - always popular because of its simplicity - is called Fettuccine al burro, and the name "Fettuccine Alfredo" is basically unused.[8] [9]


Fettuccine Alfredo with tomato

There are many modifications to the basic fettuccine Alfredo which are used to lower the cost. Cream may be added to the butter. Less expensive cheeses, such as U.S.-made Parmesan cheese, an imitation of Parmigiano-Reggiano, are often used; the cheese is sometimes mixed with flour as a thickener. Thickening can also be achieved by mixing the sauce with a small amount of roux (flour and liquid butter or olive oil) as the liquid reaches boiling.

Occasionally, other cheeses such as asiago and romano may be added to alter the flavor. Other types of pasta are sometimes used. To make it a single-dish meal, chicken/shrimp and vegetables, such as peas, are often served on top. Another variation uses egg in combination with cream, butter and cheese.

Alfredo sauce[edit]

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, these versions may be thickened with starch.


  1. ^ Downie, David (2011). Cooking the Roman Way. HarperCollins. p. 106. ISBN 9780062031099. 
  2. ^ de Rossi, Martino. Libro de Arte Coquinaria. pp. sub vocem. 
  3. ^ "The food timeline". Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Waverly Root, The Food of Italy, Random House, 1971, p. 86. ISBN 0-394-72429-1.
  5. ^ Luigi Carnacina e Vincenzo Buonassisi, "Roma in Cucina", Martello, Milan, 1968, sub vocem
  6. ^ Paul Hofmann, (November 1, 1981), "Fettuccine-A Dish Fit for a Duchess", New York Times, accessed 2008
  7. ^ Web site of "Alfredo alla Scrofa" in Rome
  8. ^ "Fettuccine Alfredo". Giallo Zafferano. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Bastianich, Lidia; John, Mariani. How Italian Food Conquered the World (1st ed.). 

External links[edit]