History of Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo, also known as Pasta Alfredo, is an iconic dish of Roman cuisine, famous all over the world for its simplicity and goodness. Its history, shrouded in legend, is linked to Alfredo Di Lelio, a Roman restaurateur who lived between 1883 and 1959.

The origins:

There are two versions of the origins of fettuccine Alfredo:

  • 1908: According to the most widespread legend, Alfredo created the dish in 1908 for his wife Ines, who was convalescing after the birth of their first child. To nourish and strengthen her, he prepared a dish of fettuccine seasoned with melted butter, grated Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
  • 1914: Other sources indicate 1914 as the year the dish was born. In that year, in fact, Alfredo ran a restaurant in Via della Scrofa, frequented by actors and celebrities. It is said that he created fettuccine Alfredo to satisfy the demanding palates of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, who were on their honeymoon in Rome.


Regardless of the exact year, fettuccine Alfredo was a great success, winning over Romans and tourists alike. The dish became a symbol of Roman cuisine and its culinary tradition. Alfredo’s fame grew so much that he was nicknamed “Alfredo the King of Fettuccine”.

Original Recipe:

The original fettuccine Alfredo recipe, created by Alfredo Di Lelio, is extremely simple and calls for only a few ingredients:

  • Fresh fettuccine: The ideal pasta for this dish is fettuccine, wide and flat, which cooks in just a few minutes.
  • High-quality butter: Butter is the key ingredient in creating the creamy sauce that coats the fettuccine. It must be fresh and of excellent quality to give the dish a rich and refined flavor.
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano: Parmigiano Reggiano is the cheese used to flavor the sauce and give it a creamy consistency. It should be freshly grated to enhance its aroma and taste.
  • Black pepper: Freshly ground black pepper is the only seasoning added to the dish, to round out the flavor and add a hint of spiciness.


Preparing fettuccine Alfredo is very simple and takes just a few minutes:

  1. Cook the fettuccine: Boil the fettuccine in abundant salted water for the time indicated on the package. Drain them al dente, reserving some of the cooking water.
  2. Prepare the sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the drained fettuccine and toss gently to coat them with the butter. Gradually add the grated Parmesan cheese, stirring continuously to create a creamy sauce. If necessary, add a little cooking water to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
  3. Season and serve: Season the fettuccine with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnishing with more grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

American Recipe:

The American version of fettuccine Alfredo differs significantly from the original Italian recipe, mainly due to the addition of cream and other ingredients. Here are some of the key points:

  • Cream: Cream is used to create a richer and creamier sauce than the original recipe.
  • Garlic: Garlic is often added to flavor the sauce, an element absent in the traditional recipe.
  • Herbs: Some American recipes include herbs such as parsley or basil to add a touch of freshness to the dish.
  • Protein: Versions with added protein, such as chicken, shrimp, or broccoli, are often found, completely changing the essence of the original dish.


The main differences between the original Italian recipe and the American version of fettuccine Alfredo can be summarized as follows:

  • Ingredients: The original recipe only calls for butter, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and fettuccine, while the American version includes cream, garlic, herbs, and sometimes protein.
  • Creaminess: Cream gives American fettuccine a denser and creamier texture compared to the delicate original sauce.
  • Flavors: The addition of garlic and herbs alters the flavor profile of the dish, moving away from the simplicity and refinement of the traditional recipe.
  • Intensity: American variations, with the addition of cream and protein, are generally richer and more intense than the lightness and delicacy of the original recipe.


  • The real fettuccine Alfredo, as per the original recipe, does not include cream.
  • Alfredo Di Lelio’s restaurant still exists today in Rome, and is run by his descendants.
  • Fettuccine Alfredo has been imitated all over the world, often with the addition of ingredients not present in the original recipe.

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