Jump to content

Fettuccine Alfredo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Alfredo sauce)

Fettuccine Alfredo
Place of originItaly
Region or stateRome, Lazio
Associated cuisine
Created byAlfredo di Lelio (1882–1959)
Main ingredientsFettuccine, butter, Parmesan cheese
VariationsUS additions: heavy cream or half-and-half, chicken, broccoli, parsley, garlic, shrimp, turkey, salmon, mushrooms
Similar dishesFettuccine al burro, pasta burro e parmigiano, pasta in bianco

Fettuccine Alfredo (Italian: [fettut'tʃiːne alˈfreːdo]) is a pasta dish made with fettuccine, butter, and Parmesan cheese. As the cheese is mixed with freshly cooked, warm fettuccine and ample butter, it melts and emulsifies to form a smooth, rich cheese sauce coating the noodles.[1] Originated in Rome in the early 20th century, it is now popular in the United States and other countries.[2][3] Cream is commonly added to American versions, which are often served as a main course with optional chicken, shrimp, salmon or other ingredients on top or on the side.[4][5]

The dish is named for Alfredo Di Lelio, a Roman restauranteur who is credited with its invention and popularisation.[4] Di Lelio's elaborate tableside service was an integral part of the dish.[6][7][8] Fettuccine Alfredo is a richer version of the standard Italian fettuccine al burro ('fettuccine with butter'), also called pasta burro e parmigiano ('pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese'). It is a kind of pasta in bianco, that is, without added sauce.[9][10][11] The Italian recipes do not include cream and are not topped with other ingredients, nor is the dish generally called "Alfredo" in Italy.[2]


Roman origins[edit]

In Italy, the combination of pasta with butter and cheese dates to at least the 15th-century, when it was mentioned by Martino da Como, a northern Italian cook active in Rome;[12] this recipe for "Roman macaroni" (Italian: maccaroni romaneschi) calls for cooking pasta in broth or water and adding butter, "good cheese" (the variety is not specified) and "sweet spices".[13]

Modern reappearance[edit]

Modern fettuccine Alfredo was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio in Rome. According to family lore, in 1892 Alfredo began to work in a restaurant located in Piazza Rosa that was run by his mother Angelina. He cooked his first "fettuccine with triple butter" (Italian: fettuccine al triplo burro—later called "fettuccine all'Alfredo", and eventually "fettuccine Alfredo")[1] in 1907 or 1908 in an effort to entice his convalescent wife, Ines, to eat after giving birth to their first child Armando.[15][16] Recipes attributed to Di Lelio include only three ingredients: fettuccine, young Parmesan cheese and butter.[7][17][8] Yet there are various legends about the "secret" of the original Alfredo recipe: some say oil is added to the pasta dough; others that the noodles are cooked in milk.[18]

Alfredo Di Lelio in front of Ristorante Alfredo, c. 1914

Piazza Rosa was condemned to make way for the construction of the Galleria Colonna (c. 1910)[19] and the restaurant was forced to close, after which, Di Lelio opened his own restaurant called "Alfredo" on the via della Scrofa (c. 1914).[20] Following a visit from the American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (who was known as "The King of Hollywood")[21] in the early 1920s, Alfredo began to serve his signature dish using a golden fork and spoon bearing the inscription "To Alfredo the King of the noodles" (said to have been a gift from the famous Hollywood couple in gratitude for Alfredo's hospitality).[22][17][1][2] Di Lelio's fame and success grew (he was knighted by the King of Italy, making him a Cavaliere dell'Ordine della Corona d'Italia) until war rationing made it increasingly difficult to obtain flour, eggs, and butter.[23][24][7] He sold the restaurant to two of his waiters in 1943 and retired.[8][25]

After the war, in 1950, Di Lelio opened a new restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore with his son Armando.[26][3] He vigorously promoted the restaurant by creating a celebrity wall of fettuccine themed photographs showing himself (in humorous poses, with his noodles and gold cutlery) serving dignitaries, politicians, famous musicians and film stars such as James Stewart, Bob Hope, Anthony Quinn, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Jack Lemmon, Ava Gardner, Tyrone Power, Sophia Loren, Cantinflas, and many others.[27] The dish was so well known that Di Lelio was invited to demonstrate it both in Italy and abroad.[8] The fame of the dish, by this time called maestosissime fettuccine all'Alfredo ('most majestic Alfredo-style fettuccine') on Alfredo's menus, was heightened by the tableside "spectacle reminiscent of grand opera" during its preparation,[9] "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.[8]

Both the original restaurant (now called Alfredo alla Scrofa), and the post-war iteration (known as Il vero Alfredo and still run by the Di Lelio family) serve "fettuccine Alfredo" and compete vigorously, with escalating puffery (e.g., "the king of fettuccine", "the real king of fettuccine", "the magician of fettuccine", "the emperor of fettuccine", "the real Alfredo", etc.).[8] In 1981, there were about 50 restaurants in Rome selling similar fettuccine dishes, mostly called fettuccine alla romana.[28]

Fettuccine Alfredo, minus the spectacle, has now become ubiquitous in Italian-style restaurants outside Italy, although despite its worldwide renown, in Italy this dish is usually still called simply fettuccine al burro.[11][10][2]

In North America[edit]

The dish has long been popular with Americans, who, when in Rome, have often sought out its historical origins.[4][29]

Ristorante Alfredo menu, undated

Alfredo's noodles have been extolled in US newspapers, magazines, cookbooks and guidebooks since as early as the 1920s and 1930s.[23][30][17] In one of her popular travel guides, So You're Going to Rome!, Clara Laughlin writes, "Most travellers would blush to admit they had been in Rome and had not eaten Alfredo's fettuccine al burro."[31] Sinclair Lewis's 1922 novel Babbitt makes reference to "a little trattoria on the Via della Scrofa where you get the best fettuccine in the world".[32]

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the American food writer and restaurateur George Rector wrote about "Alfredo's noodles", describing in detail the restaurateur's elaborate tableside preparation ceremony; he did not give the dish a specific name.[7] In a later account, Rector mentions the addition of accompanying violin music and golden tableware.[33]

This act of mixing the butter and cheese through the noodles becomes quite a ceremony when performed by Alfredo in his tiny restaurant in Rome. As busy as Alfredo is with other duties, he manages to be at each table when the waiter arrives with the platter of fettuccine to be mixed by him. As a violinist plays inspiring music, Alfredo performs the sacred ceremony with a fork and spoon of solid gold. Alfredo does not cook noodles. He does not make noodles. He achieves them.

George Rector (1933)[33]

By the 1920s Alfredo was billing himself as Il Re delle Fettuccine 'The King of Fettuccine' (printed on his menus in both Italian and English), although when exactly the "fettuccine Alfredo" appellation came about is unclear. A 1925 Italian guidebook and its English translation uses "fettuccine al burro";[34][35] however, a 1927 article by Alice Rohe mentions "noodles Alfredo".[24] Throughout this period and beyond, restaurant reviews, advertisements, and recipes for "noodles Alfredo" (1927 and 1929),[36] "Alfredo's spaghetti" (1939),[37] "fettuccine all'Alfredo" (1956),[38] and eventually "fettuccine Alfredo" (1957 and 1964)[39][40] began to crop up in various publications.

In 1966, the Pennsylvania Dutch Noodle Company started marketing their dried "fettuccine egg noodles" with an "Alfredo" recipe on the package. In addition to the traditional Parmesan cheese and butter, this version also included Swiss cheese and cream.[41][42]

In 1977, Armando Di Lelio (Alfredo's son) and a partner opened a restaurant called "Alfredo's" near Rockefeller Center in New York, as well as another in Epcot at Disney World—both of which have since closed[43] (there are also branches of Il vero Alfredo in Mexico and Saudi Arabia).[44][45]

The two largest full-service Italian-American restaurant chains, Olive Garden and Carrabba's Italian Grill, both serve and advertise the dish widely.[46] A smaller chain, Il Fornaio, which says that its goal is, to "provide our guests with the most authentic Italian experience outside of Italy", does not serve fettuccine Alfredo.[47]

Some American food writers recommend that home cooks follow Di Lelio's three ingredient formula. Writing in Bon Appétit, the Italian-American chef Carla Lalli Music notes that "American cooks added heavy cream or half-and-half to thicken and enrich the sauce. To each their own, but no authentic fettuccine Alfredo recipe should include cream (because it dulls the flavor of the cheese)."[48]

The dish has its enthusiasts and its detractors. In 2018, the restaurant critic Pete Wells said of one version, "The Alfredo sauce, sweetly dripping from the fettuccine like rain from a leaf, hit me like a prescription opiate that had been specifically engineered for my opiate receptors. It's been a long time since I'd had fettuccine Alfredo";[49] In 1981, the travel writer Paul Hoffman called the Roman versions "one of the most tempting and at the same time simplest pasta specialties".[28] On the other hand, the food writer Gillian Riley says that the fettuccine of Rome "hardly need Alfredo's gross sauce of butter, cream [sic], and cheese".[50]

The American nutrition advocate Michael Jacobson described fettuccine Alfredo as a "heart attack on a plate".[51]

Alfredo sauce[edit]

In the United States, brands such as Ragú, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market, Bertolli, Kroger, Classico, Prego, Rao's, Newman's Own, Signature Select and Saclà sell shelf-stable Alfredo sauces in glass jars for home cooks. Giovanni Rana and Buitoni sell fresh Alfredo sauces in plastic tubs that must be refrigerated. The Alaska Seasoning Company makes "Alfredo sauce powder", a spice mix to which, according to the company, one "simply [adds] cream [to] make a restaurant style Alfredo Sauce".[52] These sauces are marketed at various price points and quality levels, and are often reviewed in food related publications.[53][54][55][56]

The British retailer ASDA sells a version called "New York creamy chicken Alfredo sauce".[57]

In 2020, the Alfredo alla Scrofa restaurant began offering its own bottled version of salsa Alfredo, promoted as using only the highest quality ingredients.[58] It contains Parmesan (43%), water, butter, rice flour, and sunflower seed oil—but no cream.[59]

Other Alfredo variants and formats such as pre-packaged fresh, boil-in-bag, or frozen meals are also widely available in the United States.[60][61][62][63] In the late 1970s, McDonald's experimented with a dinner menu that included fettuccine Alfredo, pizza, lasagna, and McSpaghetti. These options are no longer available in America.[64]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Carnacina & Buonassisi 1975, pp. 72–73
  2. ^ a b c d Cesari, Luca (24 September 2023). "Lo strano caso delle Fettuccine Alfredo, il piatto quasi sconosciuto in Italia e famoso negli Usa" [The strange case of Fettuccine Alfredo, an almost unknown dish in Italy that's famous in America]. Gambero Rosso (in Italian). Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  3. ^ a b Somma, Marianna (20 February 2024). "Storia delle Fettuccine Alfredo, il più famoso piatto italo-americano" [The history of Fettuccine Alfredo, the most famous Italian-American dish]. Wine and Food Tour (in Italian). Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  4. ^ a b c Cesari, Luca (26 January 2023). "The Invention of Fettuccine Alfredo: A Love Story". Literary Hub. Retrieved 20 April 2024., excerpted from Cesari, Luca (2023). The discovery of pasta: a history in ten dishes. Translated by Bishop, Johanna. Pegasus Books, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-63936-316-2.
  5. ^ Hutcherson, Aaron (5 February 2024). "You can't beat fettuccine Alfredo for a rich, adaptable 30-minute meal". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  6. ^ Downie 2011, p. 106
  7. ^ a b c d George Rector, "A Cook's Tour", Saturday Evening Post, November 19, 1927, p. 14, 52, 54, 56, 58 snippet
  8. ^ a b c d e f 'frasi' [pseudo. of Francesco Simoncini?], Ristoranti a Roma, A.B.E.T.E. 1967, p. 99
  9. ^ a b Root 1971, p. 86
  10. ^ a b Mariani 2011[page needed]
  11. ^ a b "Fettuccine Alfredo". Giallo Zafferano. Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  12. ^ Annalisa Zordan (29 May 2016). "Fettuccine Alfredo. Come si preparano e chi le ha inventate" (in Italian). Gambero Rosso. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  13. ^ a b de Rossi, Martino (c. 1460). "Ch. 2 § Maccaroni romaneschi". Libro de Arte Coquinaria. Retrieved 26 May 2024. Original manuscript scan available on the Library of Congress, relevant section on page 39.
  14. ^ Ballerini, Luigi, ed. (2005). The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book. Translated by Parzen, Jeremy. University of California Press. pp. 67–68. ISBN 9780520928312. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  15. ^ "La Storia". il vero Alfredo (in Italian). web. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  16. ^ Carnacina (1975). Roma in Cucina. pp. 72–73.
  17. ^ a b c Barry Popik, "Fettuccine Alfredo", February 14, 2009 [1]
  18. ^ Doris Muscatine, A Cook's Tour of Rome, New York: Charles Scribers' Sons, 1964, p. 126
  19. ^ "Piazza Rosa, Roma". info.roma.it (in Italian). Retrieved 20 April 2024.
  20. ^ Giardina, Rowena Dumlao (28 April 2017). "Ristorante Alfredo alla Scrofa: The Birthplace of Fettuccine Alfredo". Honest Cooking. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  21. ^ The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks. Chicago Review Press. 2015. ISBN 978-1613734049.
  22. ^ "Fettuccine Alfredo Day: lo storico ristorante festeggia annunciando la nuova apertura in Arabia Saudita". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 7 February 2024. Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  23. ^ a b Edward Manuel Newman, Seeing Italy, 1927, p. 176
  24. ^ a b Rohe, Alice (6 May 1927). "Knighted For His Spaghetti; How Alfredo Mixes Titled Fettuccine". Evening Times. Cumberland MD. p. 6, cols. 2–3.
  25. ^ McLemore, Henry (28 February 1951). "He Meets His First King". Evening Standard. Uniontown, PA. p. 4.
  26. ^ "Mausoleo e piazza di Augusto Imperatore | sovraintendenzaroma". sovraintendenzaroma.it. Retrieved 20 April 2024.
  27. ^ Mariani 2011, p. 79
  28. ^ a b Hoffmann, Paul (1 November 1981). "Fettucine – A Food Fit for a Duchess". New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  29. ^ Mariani, John. "Why Fettuccine All'Alfredo Is One Of The World's Greatest Simplest Dishes". Forbes. Retrieved 19 April 2024.
  30. ^ Harper's Bazaar, 67, 1933, p. 52
  31. ^ Laughlin, Clara E. (1925). So You're Going to Rome!. Boston, MA.: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 351.
  32. ^ Lewis, Sinclair (1922). Babbitt. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. p. 196.
  33. ^ a b Rector, George (1933). a la Rector: Unveiling the Culinary Mysteries of the World Famous George Rector. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. p. 39. ASIN B000NLMFOA.
  34. ^ Bertarelli, Luigi Vittorio (1925). Itália centrale: Roma e dintorni (in Italian). Touring Club Italiano. p. 227.
  35. ^ Bertarelli, Luigi Vittorio (1925). Southern Italy: Including Rome, Sicily, and Sardinia. Macmillan and Company, Limited. p. 4.
  36. ^ Rector, George (8 June 1929). "Rector's Recipes". Modesto News-Herald. p. 10, col.1.
  37. ^ "This Week magazine". New York Herald Tribune. 10 December 1939. p. 11, col. 3.
  38. ^ 29 March 1956, Moravia (Iowa) Union, pg. 4, col. 6: Last week we had fettuccine al Alfredo, which was described on some program by a chef just oof [sic] the plane from Rome—he even brought his own cheese—and then we had cherries jubilee for dessert.
  39. ^ Owen, June (26 June 1957). "Food; Three Restaurants". The New York Times. p. 48. Fettuccine Alfredo, originated at the famous Alfredo's in Rome, is another specialty ($1.65).
  40. ^ "FETTUCCINE ALFREDO...1.50". (advertisement). Oakland Tribune. 10 April 1964. p. D35, col. 5.
  41. ^ MacAllen, Ian (18 November 2021). "How Pennsylvania Dutch Noodles Americanized Fettuccine Alfredo". Red Sauce America. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  42. ^ Coleman, Todd (13 April 2009). "The Real Alfredo". Saveur.
  43. ^ "The Origins Of Fettuccine Alfredo". HuffPost. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  44. ^ "Le fettuccine al doppio burro e parmigiano volano in Arabia Saudita – Food – Ansa.it". Agenzia ANSA (in Italian). 6 February 2024. Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  46. ^ Demarest, Abigail Abesamis (13 October 2023). "I ordered the same meal from Olive Garden and Carrabba's, and the winner blew me away with generous portions". Business Insider. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  47. ^ "About Us". Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana. Il Fornaio. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  48. ^ Music, Carla Lalli (26 March 2024). "Fettuccine Alfredo". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  49. ^ Wells, Pete (23 January 2018). "Can Fancy Chefs Excel at Fast, Cheap Food? Two Case Studies". New York Time. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  50. ^ Riley, Gillian (1 April 2009). The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. Oxford University Press. p. 376. ISBN 978-0-19-538710-0.
  51. ^ Shin, Annys (28 February 2011). "Dinner with Michael Jacobson, 'Chief of the Food Police'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  52. ^ "Alfredo Sauce Powder". Alaska Seasoning Co. Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  53. ^ Avasthi, Suruchi (14 March 2024). "I Tried 9 Grocery Store Alfredo Sauces: This Is the One I'll Always Have in My Pantry". Camille Styles. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  54. ^ Mattisan, Lindsay D. (29 November 2022). "14 Jarred Alfredo Sauce Brands To Buy In 2023, Ranked Worst To Best". TastingTable. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  55. ^ Skladany, Joey (17 March 2023). "I tried 8 jarred alfredo sauces and the winner is a true dairy queen: The winner of this taste test is a creamy, dreamy jar of goodness". Today. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  56. ^ Thym, Jolene (29 August 2023). "Taste-Off: The best pre-made Alfredo sauces – and the gloopy ones". The Mercury News. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  57. ^ "Calories in Asda Chosen by You New York Creamy Chicken Alfredo Sauce 350g, Nutrition Information | Nutracheck". www.nutracheck.co.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  58. ^ "La Salsa Alfredo arriva a casa in barattolo. Idea del mitico ristorante romano delle Fettuccine", Gambero Rosso, May 9, 2020
  59. ^ ""Salsa Alfredo", web site of Alfredo alla Scrofa". Archived from the original on 18 April 2021.
  60. ^ Duda, Julia (25 December 2023). "12 Stouffer's Frozen Entrées, Ranked Worst To Best". Tasting Table. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  61. ^ Medina, Evelina Zaragoza (11 March 2024). "30 Frozen Dinners Ranked From "No, Thank You" To "I'd Like Some More, Please"". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  62. ^ "The Fettuccine Alfredo at the Wendy's Superbar Turned Me into a Chef". Food & Wine. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  63. ^ "Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli". Michael Angelo's. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  64. ^ "10 fast foods that have disappeared". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 1 May 2024.


External links[edit]