Fettuccine Alfredo – Authentic recipe

I was curious to find out exactly what fettuccine Alfredo is. I’ve frequently heard it mentioned in American TV shows and movies, but I’ve never found anyone in Italy who has heard of it. So I did a little research and came up with this.

Alfredo's restaurant

Alfredo's restaurant

Fettuccine dressed with butter and parmesan has been eaten for hundreds of years in Italy. The story goes that in 1914 Alfredo di Lelio

Alfredo

Alfredo

had the bright idea to add a lot more butter. Apparently he thought it might help his heavily pregnant wife keep her lunch down. Just what you need when you’re feeling queasy, half a pound of butter ;-) With the help of a bit of nifty PR (courtesy of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford), the dish became popular in the US. Alfredo’s restaurant still exists in Rome and enjoys a great deal of custom from American tourists. Alfredo’s now also has three restaurants in the states. Over the years American chefs have amended the recipe to include cream.

This is the original recipe from Alfredo’s restaurant. The recipe is for 4 portions, but it’s sooo heavy, I reckon 6 would be nearer the mark.

By the way, it does taste very nice, but I think I can feel my arteries hardening as I type :-)

Fettuccine Alfredo ingredients

Fettuccine Alfredo ingredients

  1. Beat the butter and cheese together in a bowl until you get a smooth paste.
  2. Cook the fettuccine for  3 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta quickly and add to the bowl with the cheese and butter. You should allow a little of the cooking water to cling to the pasta.
  4. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve.
Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

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18 thoughts on “Fettuccine Alfredo – Authentic recipe

  1. Around 1970 I went with friends to Alfredo’s restaurant in Rome and of course ordered fettuccine. As we were with a celebrity, we were advised that Alfredo would serve us himself. When the fettuccine was at the table, he came out of the kitchen, a sort of a Salvador Dali character with a handlebar moustache, and showed us, and used, the golden fork and spoon given to him by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. He tossed the pasta twice, whilst jumping in the air in a sort of camp pirouette, blew kisses to the rest of the diners, and disappeared, not to be seen again. Apparently we were honoured, this was rare as he was quite old then. The pasta was superb, and we met a legend, well he was in those days.

      • Hi, I was with a guy called Mitch Murray who wrote numerous hits in the 60’s and 70’s. He also was with his very glamorous and blonde then wife a singer, Grazina Frame. We never knew how they knew who we were, they may have assumed we were celebrities and didn’t want to offend, who knows.

  2. The whole story about Fettuccine Alfredo”is
    an “americanata”.
    I’m from the north of Italy,
    in the early 60’s we knew nothing
    about extra-virgin olive oil,
    we only knew butter and often ate
    pasta (any kind of pasta) with butter
    and parmesan cheese. We still do it.
    Con buona pace per il furbo Alfredo.

    • I totally agree. Nobody outside of the US has ever heard of Fettucine Alfredo. Pasta in Bianco is another matter however. As you said, all due respect to Alfredo for a crafty marketing trick :-)

  3. Fettuccine Alfredo is known outside of the US. I’m UK based and it is very common to see it on the menu here, indeed I first tasted it in Switzerland in the 50’s. What I have learnt about Italy is that to an Italian, foreign cooking is what the next village does, so it is no surprise that a Roman could claim it is his recipe and get away with it. Whoever is responsible, it is a lovely dish.

    • Is it common in the UK now? It must be an American influence rather than an Italian one. I’m English, but I tend to avoid Italian restaurants in the UK. Not because they are necessarily bad, but because they are usually so inauthentic I spend too much time grumbling to enjoy the food :-) I probably should have said “I have never found an Italian who has heard of Fettuccine Alfredo” for the strictest accuracy. I challenge you to find a restaurant in the UK that serves Fettuccine Alfredo that doesn’t also serve Spaghetti Bolognaise and/or Carbonara made with cream!

  4. I knew I read something about “fettuccine Alfredo”…
    Now. Do you know Vincenzo Buonassisi?
    Why don’t you take a look at his “Il cuciniere italiano”
    Rusconi Editore, vol.II, pg.478 “fettuccine al triplo burro”.
    I’m sure you’ll be surprised.
    By the way; the above mentioned Alfredo is in Roma, Via della
    Scrofa.
    One more thing: may I know what is PASTA IN BIANCO for you?

    • Thanks for the info Laura. I’ll try and find a copy of “Il Cucinere italiano”.

      I think I made a mistake with “pasta in bianco”. Looking on the net it seems to be something quite different to what I’d assumed. What do you call pasta dressed simply with butter or oil and cheese?

  5. Pasta in bianco is simply dressed with OIL, no cheese, no nothing (it was supposed to be given to very ill people – almost dead people – otherwise who would ever eat it?).
    Pasta al burro, very common in THE NORTH, is dressed with butter and
    cheese (we children ate this for lunch very,very often).
    Riso all’INGLESE (guess why) simply dressed with oil (and lemon,bleah)
    Riso al burro, butter and cheese.
    Riso in cagnone, fried butter and cheese.

    • OK, I see now. I meant pasta al buro. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard pasta with olive oil and cheese referred to as pasta in bianco. Maybe it’s a Bari thing.

      Riso all’inglese LOL When Italians use “English” in connection with food it’s usually an insult :-) Is it called that because it’s horrible?
      The two exceptions to this rule seem to be English “soup” and “rosbif”

  6. Ah, ah, no, no; the adjective “English” in NOT connected to bad food!(you ARE mean!). I suppose that it’s rather connected to “not tasty food” or “very simple food”; although, to tell the truth, I still get a shiver thinking about “English salt”…

    Dizionario Zanichelli: MANGIARE IN BIANCO = “vivande lessate e poco condite (…) solo con olio e limone”.
    In the past no one knew the benefits of parmigiano reggiano…

    • Thanks Laura, but I did believe you :-)

      “English salt” Do you mean that we use too much? This is undoubtedly true! A large proportion of British people will sprinkle loads of salt on their meal without even tasting it first. A bit of an insult to the chef I think.

      I can counter “English salt” with “Italian sugar” though :-)

  7. O.K. Now you’ll hate me… Sorry for this,Djkrysa.
    SALE INGLESE is (please, forgive me!) EPSOM SALT!!

    We began so well with fettuccine Alfredo…what happened along the way?

  8. HISTORY OF FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO AND ITS CREATOR
    We are the grandchildren of Alfredo Di Lelio (Alfredo and Ines Di Lelio). The story is this. Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in Rome nel 1914, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina Rose Square (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Deaf). In this local fame spread, first to Rome and then in the world of “fettuccine all’Alfredo”. In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio gave the local to his collaborators.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando (Alfredo II) his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo”, which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo (same name of grandfather) and Ines (the same name of his grandmother, wife of Alfredo Di Lelio, who were dedicated to the noodles).
    In conclusion, the local Piazza Augusto Imperatore is following the family tradition of Alfredo Di Lelio and his notes noodles (see also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo”)

  9. It’s my belief that Messrs Fairbanks & Pickford dined at Alfredo’s in the late 20’s and so liked the Fettucini (what’s not to like about it?) that they wrote down these simplest of ingredients.This, in order to impress their pals back in Hollywood, at their ‘attained’ (though fairly minor) foreign culinary skills, dubbing the dish ‘Pasta Alfredo’. The ‘pals’ then looked up Alfredo’s whenever they ‘did Europe’ (like Harry’s Bar in Venice) and Alfredo himself, had thereby achieved a magnificent trans-atlantic PR coup!

    As to it being an ‘English’ version of preparing Carbonara,( i.e with cream) this is not exactly correct. The dish when prepared like this, is known as ‘alla Romana’. A culinary region, Lazio/Roma where cream is often added to various sauces when being prepared. It’s a practice that dates back to the Roman Empire and purveyed a sense of luxury, long before ‘pasta’ (or noodles) arrived in Europe..

  10. Pingback: The ultimate pasta dish. | Coffee & Camera in Hand

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