In search of Alfredo.

On Wednesdays I cook for two very special people, the pastor of our church Holy Cross and a visiting Missionary who is studying Canon Law at St. Paul University.   This weekly tradition gives me as much pleasure as the gift of a meal does for them.   It’s important to me to put meals on the table that people like.  It’s fun to menu plan and I get to pretend to be a chef.  It’s my way of treating someone and saying I love you.
Fr. Mark asked for fettuccini Alfredo.  I have never had it before.  I had no clue what it was.  I am a ragu, carbonara kind of girl.  In my research of  12 different blogs, 1 video and a quick chat with a dear friend I found that the dish was first made in Rome Italy by an Alfredo di Lelio in 1914 for his nauseated pregnant wife Ines.  It was successful so Alfredo put it on their restaurant menu.  Silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks had the dish while honeymooning in Rome 1920 and asked for the recipe.  They brought it back to the USA where it became massively popular but in Italy it is virtually unheard of.  Alfredo made pasta bianco…white noodles, butter and parmesan.
In the States the dish morphed to butter, cream and parmigianno reggiano and at times contains garlic, chicken or shrimp.
I am no chef, but I know my way around the kitchen so most of the recipes I saw on-line were dismissed as meh.  An old friend and priest Fr. Lukose once told me that cooking has to come from within…from your heart and soul.  My dear friend Cristiana says the same so when I put the recipe that follows together this evening it is from my heart.

As for my family…Matt gobbled pasta for the first time tonight.  The children, Nana and my dog loved it.  Chris had seconds.  The pasta was rich, silky and had a suble garlic note swimming through it.  As for me, while I enjoyed the pasta,  my head just couldn’t get past the sheer number of calories in the dish and I am pretty sure I felt my arteries hardening.  I am still a hardcore ragu and carbonara girl.

Alfredo Sauce
1/2 c unsalted butter

1 & 1/2 c heavy cream (35%)

1.5 tbsp minced garlic (germ removed please)

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp finely cracked black pepper

7 oz finely grated parmesan (please grate your own, use the real stuff, not Kraft)

1/2 c 2% milk
*In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, bring to the barest simmer butter, cream, garlic, sat and pepper.
* Simmer very, very gently for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
* Strain the sauce.  The sauce needs to be silky, not clumpy with nasty bits of garlic and cracked black pepper.  I love garlic but the sauce needs to be silky.
*While the sauce is hot gradually add you grated parm and let it all hang out and assimilate together.  Return the sauce to the pan and put it back on low heat. Taste, then season to personal taste with salt and pepper.  Add your milk as needed to thin out your sauce.
*In a large pot bring at least 4 litres of salted water to a boil. Our family uses Marcella Hazans rule of thumb which is, per pound of dried pasta 1.5 tbsp of fine sea salt (iodized salt is just awful, don’t go there) to 4 litres of water.   This is your only opportunity to season your pasta. Just do it!
* Cook your fettuccini pasta according to package instructions.  If I don’t make my own, I am partial to Rustichella d’Abruzzo.  Don’t overcook, your pasta shouldn’t be Chef Boyardee mushy.
*Reserve 2c of your pasta water before you drain your pasta.  Add your sauce until it coats the pasta.  Add water…a little at a time stirring until the sauce on the noodles is silky.

Serve hot.

2 thoughts on “In search of Alfredo.


    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo” .
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio



    Con riferimento al Vostro articolo ho il piacere di raccontarVi la storia di mio nonno Alfredo Di Lelio, inventore delle note “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”).
    Alfredo Di Lelio, nato nel settembre del 1883 a Roma in Vicolo di Santa Maria in Trastevere, cominciò a lavorare fin da ragazzo nella piccola trattoria aperta da sua madre Angelina in Piazza Rosa, un piccolo slargo (scomparso intorno al 1910) che esisteva prima della costruzione della Galleria Colonna (ora Galleria Sordi).
    Il 1908 fu un anno indimenticabile per Alfredo Di Lelio: nacque, infatti, suo figlio Armando e videro contemporaneamente la luce in tale trattoria di Piazza Rosa le sue “fettuccine”, divenute poi famose in tutto il mondo. Questa trattoria è “the birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    Alfredo Di Lelio inventò le sue “fettuccine” per dare un ricostituente naturale, a base di burro e parmigiano, a sua moglie (e mia nonna) Ines, prostrata in seguito al parto del suo primogenito (mio padre Armando). Il piatto delle “fettuccine” fu un successo familiare prima ancora di diventare il piatto che rese noto e popolare Alfredo Di Lelio, personaggio con “i baffi all’Umberto” ed i calli alle mani a forza di mischiare le sue “fettuccine” davanti ai clienti sempre più numerosi.
    Nel 1914, a seguito della chiusura di detta trattoria per la scomparsa di Piazza Rosa dovuta alla costruzione della Galleria Colonna, Alfredo Di Lelio decise di trasferirsi in un locale in una via del centro di Roma, ove aprì il suo primo ristorante che gestì fino al 1943, per poi cedere l’attività a terzi estranei alla sua famiglia.
    Ma l’assenza dalla scena gastronomica di Alfredo Di Lelio fu del tutto transitoria. Infatti nel 1950 riprese il controllo della sua tradizione familiare ed aprì, insieme al figlio Armando, il ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” (noto all’estero anche come “Alfredo di Roma”) in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 (cfr. il sito web di Il Vero Alfredo).
    Con l’avvio del nuovo ristorante Alfredo Di Lelio ottenne un forte successo di pubblico e di clienti negli anni della “dolce vita”. Successo, che, tuttora, richiama nel ristorante un flusso continuo di turisti da ogni parte del mondo per assaggiare le famose “fettuccine all’Alfredo” al doppio burro da me servite, con l’impegno di continuare nel tempo la tradizione familiare dei miei cari maestri, nonno Alfredo, mio padre Armando e mio fratello Alfredo. In particolare le fettuccine sono servite ai clienti con 2 “posate d’oro”: una forchetta ed un cucchiaio d’oro regalati nel 1927 ad Alfredo dai due noti attori americani M. Pickford e D. Fairbanks (in segno di gratitudine per l’ospitalità).
    Desidero precisare che altri ristoranti “Alfredo” a Roma non appartengono e sono fuori dal mio brand di famiglia.
    Vi informo che il Ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” è presente nell’Albo dei “Negozi Storici di Eccellenza – sezione Attività Storiche di Eccellenza” del Comune di Roma Capitale.
    Grata per la Vostra attenzione ed ospitalità nel Vostro interessante blog, cordiali saluti
    Ines Di Lelio

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Ines
      I am thrilled and very grateful that you responded to this post. I love d reading about your fascinating family history.

      There was a famous American broadcaster named Paul Harvey Aurandt who worked for ABC Networks…he was famous for a segment “The Rest of the Story”. I feel like now I know the rest of the story of Fettuccine all’Alfredo and from a wonderful source of truth.
      I humbly thank you for taking the time to reach across the miles to share your story.

      Rome os on my bucket list and when I am finally get to your beautiful city I promise to visit your business and order your famous dish.
      Warmest blessings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s