Fettuccine Alfredo
Alfredo, illustration by Hirshfield

This dish actually has a verifiable history that dates back to 1914. While operating a small Cucina eponymously named “Alfredo” on the Via della Scrofa in Rome, restauranteur Alfredo Di Lelio was faced with a dilemma.

His then pregnant wife Ines was having trouble keeping food down. Being an aspiring Roman Chef, having a wife that couldn’t keep your food down could be bad for business.

Necessity being the mother of invention, Alfredo created a pasta dish that succeeded in re-igniting his wife’s dormant appetite.

Basically a variation of “Fettuccine Al Burro”, Alfredo perfected a “Triple Whammy of Butter” sauce preparation with a copious amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese slowly folded and melted in the butter; these ingredients were tossed with fresh egg tagliatelle pasta,  bathing each strand with a rich and creamy emulsified coating of butter and cheese.

Pickford and Fairbanks
Pickford and Fairbanks
So comforting in its zen-like yummiosity, Alfredo’s wife began eating again, and soon after Alfredo the Second was born. Alfredo then added the dish to his menu with his name again eponymously attached. Between the restaurant, the new born son, and the newly created dish, Alfredo was on a roll as far as naming things after himself was concerned.

In 1927, silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were honeymooning in Rome, and dined regularly at Alfredo’s Restaurant. They became so addicted to his self-named pasta creation they presented him with a golden fork and spoon in gratitude,  engraved with the inscription “To Alfredo; The King Of Noodles”.

Ristorante Alfredo
Ristorante Alfredo in Rome
Upon returning to Hollywood, news of Alfredo’s dish soon spread to other globetrotting film stars. Cognoscenti regularly made the pilgrimage to Rome to sample Alfredo’s signature dish tossed dramatically at tableside by Alfredo with the infamous Golden Fork and Spoon.

The cult of celebrity cemented “Fettuccine Alfredo” into the cultural culinary consciousness.

Poppa Primo’s version of “Fettuccine Alfredo” is an Americanized variation, employing the addition of heavy cream.  Since I can remember, “Fettuccine Alfredo” was lovingly nicknamed “Heart Attack On Plate” at the Rossi family dinner table for its prodigious artery clogging potential.

This is the first pasta dish that Pops taught me to prepare. It’s easy to make, the ingredients relatively inexpensive, and lends itself well for creative additives such as shrimp, chicken, or lightly steamed or sauteed veg-a-ta-bulls. The addition of frozen baby peas was always a winner, giving the creamy pasta dish the pleasant decorative advantage of being adorned with green “polka dots”.

Fork and Spoon
The Golden Fork and Spoon
If you want to impress a first date with a faux veneer of culinary skills, this dish is for you. You can actually appear to know what you’re doing in the kitchen.

WIth the pairing of a decent bottle of dry white Italian wine, the results will make any dinner guest swoon, just like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks did back in 1927.

Its the food, and formula of love.

Giorgio “Secondo” Rossi



Here’s What You’ll Need to Serve Four Guests:

1 Pound Fettuccine or Egg Tagliatelle Pasta
1 Stick Of Butter
2 Half Pints Heavy Cream (2 cups)
1 ½ - 2 Cups of Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (you won’t use all of it)

A good Alfredo is really dependent on timing and heat management.

The recipe

butter meltSTEP # 1 “KOOK” Da Pasta

In a large pot of salted boiling water, toss 1 pound of fettuccine in the water.

For a dried pasta, that should take about 11-14 minutes to cook to “Al Dente Status”

Five minutes into the boiling process, start the sauce.

STEP # 2 “Start Da Sauce”

Melt a stick of butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat.

add creamStep # 3 “Get Creamed”

Pour in two cups of heavy cream and bring to an “almost” boil.

Step # 4  “Don’t Fear Da Pepper"

Grind a liberal amount of fresh pepper in the sauce.

Step # 5 “Da Pasta”

Pretty self explanatory. After draining, toss back into the warm pot.

assembleStep # 6 “Assemble Da Dish”

Pour the butter and cream mixture over the pasta.


Let it cool for about 1 minute, and then start to slowly add grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, tossing and coating pasta constantly. If too hot, the cheese will lump up and become stringy. If too cool...well you’ll be serving cold Alfredo, a fate to be avoided.

Add more pepper, and a little salt, if needed. Always taste first before adding salt.

Continue to add cheese slowly whilst tossing, until the desired creamy consistency is achieved

Plate, and Serve. That’s it!

Easy Peasy, no Fuss no Muss.


In its purest form, a real Alfredo doesn’t even use cream. But this particular version does lend itself well to have creative additives tossed in, depending on your culinary muse and what’s available in the fridge!

peasYou can add cooked shrimps, sauteed chicken, or a variety of steamed, grilled or roasted veggies. You can variate herbs and spices (try it with a little fresh dill and some cayenne pepper!). The possibilities are really endless, and the only limitations in variations are the ones that you impose upon yourself.

Poppa Primo sometimes adds frozen baby peas to the mix. Not only can it increase the “yummiosity” factor, but frozen peas can cool down the butter and cream mixture quickly to prevent any cheese mishaps.

This was the “Macaroni and Cheese” of my childhood. If you are in need of comfort food, or to restore a lost appetite, look no further than this recipe. Alfredo Di Lelio knew what he was doing.

Mangia Bene!

[Watch the Video Tutorial for "Rossi's Fettuccine Alfredo"]

Fettuccine Alfredo
Fettuccine Alfredo.
Fettuccine Alfredo Gussied Up
Fettuccine Alfredo with sauteed asparagus, sauteed mushrooms and baby peas.