As surprising as it is, many Italians have never had (or even heard about) a dish of Fettuccine Alfredo. Hard to believe, as this recipe spread incredibly across the globe, and especially in the United States, under the incorrect premise that Fettuccine Alfredo are a classic Italian delicacy like many others. In reality this is not a “traditional” Italian pasta recipe by any means, especially when we consider its American variations. The reasons for such misunderstanding are not entirely easy to reconstruct, but we do know where this dish was born, and it sure comes from Italy after all. We also know who Alfredo actually is!
To celebrate the “National Fettuccine Alfredo day”, coming on February the 7th, we will reconstruct the origins of this mysterious dish, as well as offering a recipe and our inevitable suggestion for a perfect wine combination. Let’s get started!
The name of this dish is not at all artificial, as some might think. In fact, it reveals the identity of its own creator. The famous Fettuccine Alfredo were born in Rome, created by Alfredo Di Lelio in 1908 at his trattoria in Piazza Rosa, the site where the Galleria Alberto Sordi now stands. According to family reconstructions, Alfredo Di Lelio invented the fettuccine to provide a natural tonic, based on butter and Parmesan, for his wife Ines, who was weakened after giving birth to their firstborn.
The fettuccine dish became a family favorite even before it gained fame and popularity. The dish's fortune increased a few years later when it caught the attention of Hollywood stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, who tasted this specialty at the restaurant on Via della Scrofa that Alfredo had opened later on in his life. From then on, for all Hollywood actors, it was a fixed stop in Rome.
It may seem like a particularly simple dish to prepare due to the presence of the few ingredients that distinguish it, but achieving the right creaminess from butter and cheese is not as straightforward. Consequently, when it was introduced into the American diet, this recipe underwent several modifications, the most notable being the addition of a third ingredient that enhanced the creamy aspect and gave it a rich and velvety consistency: cream. Various versions were born, incorporating abundant use of this ingredient combined with others unrelated to the original recipe. Examples include Chicken Alfredo or Seafood Alfredo, which involve the original ingredients along with the addition of cream, chicken in the first case, and prawns in the second.
The actual consecration of this recipe in the United States came thanks to industrialization and large-scale organized distribution, making it possible to find ready-to-use "Alfredo sauces" in bags or jars to be poured directly onto already cooked pasta, prioritizing convenience over product quality.
To savor authentic Fettuccine Alfredo, prepared only with butter and Parmesan, you can visit two different restaurants in the capital: Il Vero Alfredo in Piazza Augusto Imperatore and Da Alfredo alla Scrofa in Via della Scrofa. But now, let’s investigate an authentic “Fettuccine Alfredo” recipe, so you can make your own!
The original italian recipe
This is a very quick and super easy preparation! You can either make the egg pasta yourself or use store-bought fettuccine.
320 g of egg fettuccine (or 4 eggs, 300 g of '00 flour, 100 g of durum wheat semolina flour, salt, following an online procedure)
150 g of quality butter
200 g of Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt to taste
Bring plenty of water and coarse salt to a boil. Boil the Fettuccine for 1 minute.
In the meantime, add half the butter to a very large pan, let it melt, and add 3 tablespoons of boiling cooking water.
Add the fettuccine to the pan over moderate heat. Add the rest of the butter in cubes, salt, and another 2–3 tablespoons of cooking water.
Let the pasta cook in a risotto style for about 1 minute over moderate heat, adding more boiling cooking water if necessary.
A white cream should form, completely enveloping the fettuccine.
When the pasta is cooked “al dente” and creamy, turn off the heat, add all the Parmesan, stir in the pan, and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of boiling cooking water if necessary, and enjoy!
We can hear you, you need the perfect bottle to go with this recipe. Turns out we have just what you look for! To enhance your Fettuccine Alfredo, you can try our Farnito Chardonnay IGT 2021. Produced from Chardonnay grapes cultivated on our Chianciano/Montepulciano estate, situated at an elevation of 300 meters (1,000 feet) above sea level.
The meticulous grape selection involves harvesting clusters between the last week of August and the first week of September. Swiftly transported to the crusher in small boxes, the grapes are shielded from the slightest damage prior to vinification. The vinification process incorporates low-temperature maceration on the skins, and a deliberate fermentation of the must is initiated by selected yeasts.
During bottle aging, we meticulously sustain the yeasts and solids formed during fermentation through regular agitation of the must. In winter, the wine is racked off, briefly aged in barrels, and then undergoes further bottle aging in our temperature-controlled cellars at 13°C (55°F).
The wine exhibits a straw-yellow color with tawny reflections. Its perfume is harmonious and persistent, featuring notes of tropical fruit, spices, and hints of citrus and vanilla. The taste profile is characterized by a dry, soft, savory, and harmonious palate. Best served at a temperature between 10-15°C. Now that you also know the perfect match, you have no excuses: celebrate the National Fettuccine Alfredo Day the right way!