The Real Fettuccine Alfredo

photo(58)

Fettuccine Alfredo is one of the most well-known Italian dishes.  However, most people don’t know the history behind it and what its real ingredients are.  Fettuccine Alfredo was invented by Alfredo di Lelio in 1914 at his Roman restaurant, Alfredo’s.  As the story goes, his wife couldn’t eat after she gave birth, so he created this dish.

Fettuccine Alfredo is fettuccine in a creamy butter and parmesan “sauce.”  At this point in time, this dish was really a basic pasta dish, pasta with butter and cheese, already eaten by Italians on any kind of pasta, and it is still eaten by  Italians and Italian Americans today.  Pasta with butter and cheese is not something one would typically find at a restaurant.  It is something that is eaten at home.  In fact, one can omit the cheese and just have pasta with butter as well.  The typical Italian/Italian American doesn’t use this much butter or cheese when making this dish.  So the novelty of Alfredo’s dish is that it contained a lot of butter–which makes sense because he was trying to nourish his wife who had just given birth and was having digestive problems.

The difference between the Italian and American versions is that in the Italian version, only butter and parmesan are used, and together, they create a silky butter sauce.  Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford ate fettuccine Alfredo at Alfredo’s in 1920 while on their honeymoon and brought the dish back to America.  In the American version, heavy cream is also used to get a more creamy, saucy consistency.  This, however, is not how the dish was intended.

There are a number of ways to prepare fettuccine Alfredo.  I tried Todd Coleman’s version from Saveur magazine.

Fettuccine Alfredo

1 1b. fettuccine (Cook according to package directions.)

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 lb. grated parmesan cheese (Parmesan from Italy is best here.)

The trick to making fettuccine Alfredo is to have a large platter, preferably warmed under hot water or in the oven a few minutes.  Cut pats of butter all over the platter.

photo(59)

Drain pasta but reserve some pasta water.  Add the pasta to the platter along with the cheese and 1/4 cup pasta water.

photo(57)

Toss with forks until the butter melts and all is well mixed–about 3 minutes.  Add more pasta water if you need to.  I used about 1 cup.

I think it is tricky to keep this warm, so if I make it again, I may try doing it in a skillet as recommended elsewhere or the quicker version Coleman suggests.

 

2 responses to “The Real Fettuccine Alfredo

  1. HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR IN 1908 OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), NOW SERVED BY HIS NEPHEW INES DI LELIO, AT THE RESTAURANT “IL VERO ALFREDO” – “ALFREDO DI ROMA” IN ROME, PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE 30

    With reference of your article, I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo”.(with news also about franchising).

    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong to the family tradition of “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

    • huntfortheverybest

      Ines, Thank you for reading my blog! And thank you for adding more information about your grandfather’s legacy. I look forward to visiting the restaurant some day! Best, Dina

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s