Fettuccine Alfredo

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Fettuccine Alfredo
Fettuccine Alfredo.jpg
Course Primo
Place of origin Italy
Region or state Lazio
Associated national cuisine United States
Created by Alfredo di Lelio I (1882–1959)
Main ingredients fettuccine, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, butter
Variations (in the US) broccoli, cream, parsley, garlic, chicken, shrimp, Turkey
Cookbook: Fettuccine Alfredo  Media: Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo (Italian pronunciation: [fettut'tʃiːne alˈfreːdo])[1] or fettuccine al burro[citation needed] is a pasta dish made from fettuccine tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter.[2][3][4] As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich sauce coating on the pasta.[2] In other words, it is pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (Italian: pasta al burro e parmigiano), one of the oldest and simplest ways to prepare pasta. Alfredo Di Lelio gave it this name at his restaurants in Rome, in the early to mid 20th century.[2][5]

The dish became popularized and spread to the United States. The recipe has evolved and its commercialized version is now ubiquitous with heavy cream and other ingredients. In Italy, fettuccine al burro is generally considered home cooking; fettuccine Alfredo is just an extremely rich version.[5]


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, under the name maccaroni romaneschi 'Roman macaroni'.[6]

Alfredo Di Lelio invented the "fettuccine al triplo burro"[2] (later named "fettuccine all'Alfredo" or "fettuccine Alfredo") in 1892 in a restaurant run by his mother Angelina in piazza Rosa in Rome (the Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna/Sordi). According to family accounts, In 1892, Alfredo Di Lelio began to work in a restaurant that was located in piazza Rosa and run by his mother Angelina. The restaurant closed in 1910 when the piazza disappeared. Alfredo Di Lelio invented the dish in 1908 in an effort to entice his wife, Ines, to eat after giving birth to their first child Armando. Alfredo added extra butter or "triplo burro” to the fettuccine when mixing it together for her and she ate.[7][8][9] Alfredo di Lelio later opened his own restaurant, "Alfredo", in 1914, on the via della Scrofa in central Rome.

The fame of "fettuccine all'Alfredo" spread, first in Rome and then to other countries. In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio sold the restaurant to two of his waiters.[10] In 1950, with his son Armando, Alfredo Di Lelio opened a new restaurant in piazza Augusto Imperatore, Alfredo all'Augusteo, now managed by his niece Ines Di Lelio, bringing along the famous "gold cutlery"[2] said to have been donated in 1927 by the American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for Alfredo’s hospitality). The two restaurants compete vigorously, with escalating puffery: "the king of fettuccine", "the real king of fettuccine", "the magician of fettuccine", "the emperor of fettuccine", "the real Alfredo", etc.[10]

The dish was so well known that Di Lelio was invited to demonstrate it both in Italy and abroad.[10] The fame of the dish, called on Alfredo's menus "maestosissime fettuccine all'Alfredo" 'most majestic fettuccine, Alfredo style', comes largely from the "spectacle reminiscent of grand opera" of its preparation at table,[3] as described in 1967:

[The fettuccine] are seasoned with plenty of butter and fat parmesan, not aged, so that, in a ritual of extraordinary theatricality, the owner mixes the pasta and lifts it high to serve it, the white threads of cheese gilded with butter and the bright yellow of the ribbons of egg pasta offering an eyeful for the customer; at the end of the ceremony, the guest of honor is presented the golden cutlery and the serving dish, where the blond fettuccine roll around in the pale gold of the seasonings. It's worth seeing the whole ceremony. The owner, son of old Alfredo and looking exactly like him, ... bends over the great skein of fettuccine, fixes it intensely, his eyes half-closed, and dives into mixing it, waving the golden cutlery with grand gestures, like an orchestra conductor, with his sinister upwards-pointing twirled moustache dancing up and down, pinkies in the air, a rapt gaze, flailing elbows.[10]

Fettuccine Alfredo, minus the spectacle, has now become ubiquitous in Italian-style restaurants outside Italy, although in Italy this dish is usually called simply "fettuccine al burro".[4][11]

Alfredo sauce[edit]

Alfredo sauce is often sold as a convenience food in grocery stores in many countries. Unlike the original preparation, which is thickened only by cheese, the prepared food and fast food[12] versions may be thickened with eggs or starch. Alfredo sauce may also include cream.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "fettuccine" at Collins Dictionary, accessed 2016-11-22 (archive)
  2. ^ a b c d e Carnacina (1975), p. 72–73
  3. ^ a b Waverly Root, The Food of Italy, 1971, p. 86
  4. ^ a b "Fettuccine Alfredo". Giallo Zafferano. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Downie, David (2011). Cooking the Roman Way. HarperCollins. p. 106. ISBN 9780062031099. 
  6. ^ de Rossi, Martino. Libro de Arte Coquinaria. pp. sub vocem. 
  7. ^ "Alfredo 1914". alfredo1914.com. web. Retrieved 6 September 2017. 
  8. ^ "La Storia". il vero Alfredo (in Italian). web. Retrieved 6 September 2017. 
  9. ^ Carnacina (1975). Unknown. pp. 72–73. 
  10. ^ a b c d 'frasi' [pseudo. of Francesco Simoncini], Ristoranti a Roma, A.B.E.T.E. 1967, p. 99
  11. ^ Bastianich, Lidia; John, Mariani. How Italian Food conquered the World (1st ed.). 
  12. ^ Papa Gino's, "Nutritional information and Allergens


  • Carnacina, Luigi; Buonassisi, Vincenzo (1975). Roma in Cucina (in Italian). Milano: Giunti Martello. 

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