Fettuccine alfredo

Fettuccine alfredo

Fettuccine alfredo is a pasta dish made from fettuccine pasta tossed with Parmesan cheese, butter, and heavy cream. As the cheese melts, it thickens the liquids to form a smooth and rich coating on the pasta. Although it was named by an Italian restaurateur, at his restaurant "Alfredo alla Scrofa" in Rome, it is soley an American dish, essentially the same as the Italian dish, "Fettuccine al burro e panna" or "Spaghetti Alla Carbonara", meaning fettuccine with butter and cream; in Italy, the name 'Alfredo' is rarely used and the sauce is never named or prepared separately from the dish. [Vincenzo Buonassisi, "Il Nuovo Codice della Pasta", Rizzoli, 1985. ISBN 88-17-11038-8. This compendium of 1347 pasta recipes never uses the name 'alfredo', nor do other well-known Italian cookbooks such as Ada Boni's.] In American cuisine, it is often mixed with other ingredients such as parsley, garlic, shrimp and chicken.


Pasta tossed with cheese and butter or cream sauce has a long history both in Italy and abroad. [See, for example, the citations in [http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq2.html] .]

It was popularized among American tourists in Rome by the 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. [Waverly Root, "The Food of Italy", Random House, 1971, p. 86. ISBN 0-394-72429-1.]

The restaurant's story is that the dish was invented by di Lelio at his restaurant "Alfredo alla Scrofa" 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) effect instead of double, which he started doing for his pregnant wife, who was having difficulty keeping food down. When his wife began eating again, Alfredo added the new dish to his restaurant's menu.

According to an article in the New York Times (written by a long-time customer in the early 1980's) [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=travel&res=9C0CEEDC1139F932A35752C1A967948260&scp=1&sq=alfredo%20lelio&st=cse PAUL HOFMANN, (November 1, 1981), "FETTUCINE- A DISH FIT FOR A DUCHESS", New York Times, accessed 2008] ] , di Lelio's restaurant became famous when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stopped into his restaurant and fell in love with the dish while on their honeymoon in 1927. 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 of his small restaurant. When Pickford and Fairbanks returned to Hollywood, they served his dish to their friends and associates. Word about that new meal quickly spread.

Alfredo di Lelio finally retired in 1938 and sold his restaurant, photos and all, to Mario Mozzetti's grandfather. He kept the restaurant's name, menu, and everything else. That restaurant is still in business today, run by Mario Mozzetti.

When Rome prepared for a large religious celebration in 1959, some local businessmen tracked down Alfredo di Lelio and offered to build him a new restaurant. He was retired, but he agreed to show up and act as a greeter there. When the religious holiday arrived, old customers showed up and had their photos taken for the walls of the "new" restaurant located at 30 Piazza Augusto Imperatore, a few blocks north of his original location.

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 Park in Lake Buena Vista. As of September, the Epcot branch is closed.

Despite the story, references to Fettuccine alfredo in American books and newspapers are sparse until about 1980. [Checked using Google Book search and Google News search, December, 2006] Fettuccine Alfredo has now become ubiquitous in Italian-American restaurants in the United States, though in Italy, it is mostly served to American tourists.


There are many modifications to the basic Fettuccine Alfredo which are used to lower the cost and consequently the quality. Cheaper cheeses, such as U.S.-made Parmesan cheese instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano, are often used; the cheese is sometimes mixed with flour as a thickener. Occasionally, other cheeses such as Asiago and Romano may be added to alter the flavor.

In order to make it a single-dish meal, chicken and vegetables are often served on top. Another variation uses egg in combination with cream, butter and cheese.

Alfredo sauce

Alfredo sauce is often sold as a convenience food in many grocery stores. Unlike the original preparation, which is thickened only by cheese, pre-prepared versions are thickened with starch.


External links

* [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9123848/ The Original Fettuccine Alfredo recipe]
* [http://www.alfredos.com/ The original Alfredo in Rome]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Alfredo — [al frā′dō, älfrā′dō] adj. [occas.a ] coated with a mixture of butter, cream, and grated Parmesan cheese, or now, often, with a white cheese sauce somewhat like this [fettuccine Alfredo] * * * …   Universalium

  • Alfredo — [al frā′dō, älfrā′dō] adj. [occas.a ] coated with a mixture of butter, cream, and grated Parmesan cheese, or now, often, with a white cheese sauce somewhat like this [fettuccine Alfredo] …   English World dictionary

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