ALFREDO…the real deal

Ask any Italian for their recipe for Alfredo sauce and they won’t know what you are talking about…including me! Then I researched it…

Here’s where it all comes from…very interesting:

(from: Wikipedia)

Fettuccine Alfredo is a pasta dish made from fettuccine pasta tossed with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and butter.

Pasta tossed with cheese and butter has a long history both in Italy and abroad.

It was popularised amongst US tourists in Rome by restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio who served it with his own name attached.

The restaurant’s story is that the dish was invented by di Lelio at his restaurant Alfredo 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 atriplo burro (triple butter) effect instead of double) which he started doing for his pregnant wife who was having difficulty keeping food down. Alfredo added the new dish to his restaurant’s menu when his wife began eating again.

A long-time customer recounted that di Lelio’s restaurant became famous when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stopped in and fell in love with the dish while on their honeymoon in 1920. 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. Pickford and Fairbanks served his dish to their friends and associates when they returned to Hollywood. Word about the new dish quickly spread.

Alfredo di Lelio sold his restaurant 5 May 1943. The new owner kept the restaurant’s name, menu, traditional recipes, photos on the wall, and everything else; as of 2011, the restaurant is still in business under the name Alfredo alla Scrofa. Alfredo Di Lelio, together with his son Armando, in 1950 opened again at Piazza Augusto Imperatore his restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo”, that is still managed by the grandchildren Alfredo and Ines Di Lelio, continuing the tradition of the original fettuccine created by their grandfather.

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 at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista. As of September 2007, the Epcot branch is closed.

Fettuccine Alfredo has now become ubiquitous in Italian-style restaurants in the United States. In Italy and throughout Europe, the name “Fettuccine Alfredo” is basically unknown. In Rome it is usually called Fettuccine al burro. In Piedmont a pasta called taglierini is served with butter and truffles. Butter, sage and cheese however are a common dressing for ravioli.


La pasta al burro e parmigiano is a very common dish in Italian homes. It’s a good solution when you don’t have much in the fridge or you don’t feel like cooking because both ingredients are put fresh on the pasta and melted by the heat of the pasta right off the pot. If you don’t want to put too much butter you can add a scoop of the hot water the pasta cooked in for creaminess.

Alessandra Campana

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