Fettucini Alfredo: From the Cafes of Rome

Fettuccine Alfredo
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  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Servings: 2 servings

According to my research, the original dish that came to be named Fettucini Alfredo was called ​fettuccine al burro and consisted of fettucini tossed with butter and cheese and then a second helping of butter. Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio who tripled the butter to great fame – when was more butter ever a bad thing? Today the dish usually involves less butter and some heavy cream – which is a bit healthier and results in sauce with a more appealing feel to the mouth.


  • 8 ounces egg fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Cook fettuccine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (see my article on reduced water pasta) reserving 1/3 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

  2. While pasta cooks, bring cream and butter to a simmer in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat with salt and pepper. Add fettuccine and 3 tablespoons of reserved water, and cheese to sauce and toss. Add a touch more cooking water if sauce seems too thick to you.

  3. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and additional cheese on the side.


  • This is a supremely simple dish and every ingredient counts. Use the best fettucini you can find – or make your own (which makes the dish transcendental). Use heavy cream and real butter because anything else will be disappointing – if you want something low-fat, choose another dish. Genuine imported Parmigiano-Reggiano is required – splurge.