Fettuccine with Butter and Cheese
In the early 1910s Alfredo Di Lelio, whose family owned a trattoria in Rome, created this rich pasta dish of fresh fettuccine, butter, and Parmigiano. The dish became so popular that Alfredo was soon running a bigger, fancier restaurant under his own name, where he would prepare the pasta at tableside, serving it up to diners with great fanfare and a gold fork and spoon. Silent movie stars Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and his wife, Mary Pickford, were said to have been among the restaurant’s many famous patrons.
This recipe was given to me by Russell Bellanca, owner of the Alfredo The Original of Rome Restaurants in New York City and Epcot Center, Florida. According to Russell, this is the recipe as developed by Alfredo Di Lelio. His son, Alfredo II, gave it to Russell’s dad, who was a business partner many years ago. At Alfredo The Original, the pasta is handmade from a mix of three different flours and organic egg yolks, though I use my own homemade pasta.
Serve the pasta in small portions. It is very rich.
Makes4 to 8 servings
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date
Recipe Courseappetizer, main course
Dietary Considerationappetizer, main course
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, rich, savory
Type of Dishfresh pasta
- 1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (optional)
- 1 pound fresh fettuccine
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter with the cheese until it forms a smooth cream, about 2 minutes.
Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt to taste. Stir well. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente, tender yet still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the butter and cheese and a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
Serve immediately with additional cheese, if desired.
2004 Michele Scicolone