People Are Just Discovering the Traditional Way Italians Cook Fettuccine Alfredo

published Sep 2, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
fettucine alfredo serving on a plate, garnished with herbs
Credit: Cory Fernandez

Although you may associate fettuccine Alfredo with more Italian American fare (and something you can always find at your local Olive Garden), the dish has an often misunderstood history. Fettuccine Alfredo does, in fact, have roots in Italy, although its components are different. 

Fettuccine Alfredo actually originated in Rome, and is believed to have first appeared at Alfredo alla Scrofa, a restaurant first established in the early 1900s. This original version, however, has one main difference from the American version: Traditional Roman-style fettuccine Alfredo is made with pasta, butter, Parmesan cheese, and hot pasta water, without cream or milk.

What might be even more insightful, though, is the simple yet ingenious way of serving fettuccine Alfredo, which is popular throughout Rome and Italy. This Instagram reel from aripastaclub shows how the dish is typically served tableside and comes together in just a matter of minutes.

How to Prepare Traditional Fettuccine Alfredo 

The method is, as you can see, quite simple. Here’s how to do it.

Start with a warm platter or plate topped with several tablespoons of butter. Before draining the pasta, be sure to save at least a cup of the pasta water. Immediately transfer the drained pasta to the (warm!) plate with the butter, sprinkle with Parmesan, and pour the pasta water over the top. Then, use two utensils (such as a fork and a spoon) to gently toss the pasta until the cheese begins to melt and pasta water turns into a cream sauce.

Credit: Cory Fernandez

My Honest Review of the Viral Method

Of course, I had to try this out for myself to see if it truly does come together as quickly as promised. (Spoiler: It did!) I used refrigerated fresh pasta as opposed to dry, although either should work fine. I also used unsalted butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese from a wedge.

Before draining the pasta, I reserved some of the pasta water. I started out with a large plate and covered it with slices of butter (although, after putting the cooked pasta on it, I realized I needed a larger space, so I transferred it to a large mixing bowl).

Credit: Cory Fernandez

While the pasta and pasta water were still warm, I gradually poured it in with the pasta, tossing for a minute or two in between each addition. To my surprise, the Parmesan melted really well and the pasta water created a lovely sauce that wasn’t gloopy like a lot of Alfredo sauces can be. 

Credit: Cory Fernandez

I simply added a pinch of salt and pepper and topped with some freshly chopped parsley, and lunch was served! It’s great to know that fettuccine Alfredo can be prepared quickly in this way, without having to transfer the pasta to yet another pot or skillet.