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  • Writer's pictureMegan Lawrence

The Creation of Fettuccine Alfredo

Written by Megan Lawrence

For my last article as being a part of Dalla Bocca Del Lupo, I was given the honor to interview the owner of the restaurant where Fettuccine Alfredo was invented.

The Story:

I met with the owner of Alfredo alla Scrofa, Mario Mozzetti, one Wednesday morning before the lights were even on in the restaurant. As I waited for him, I heard people in the kitchen making the pasta and preparing for lunch, which would be served in a few hours. Mario soon joined me at a table, and I asked him to tell me a story. The story of Fettuccine Alfredo; and with a wide smile on his face, he told me a love story that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

It began near Piazza Navona on Via della Scrofa in 1914, where Alfredo Di Lelio would create a dish out of the pure goodness of his heart, and it would make him one of the most famous chefs in the world. After giving birth to one of their children, Alfredo’s wife fell into a postpartum eating disorder, where she became very weak. Seeing his wife suffering, Alfredo would go through all different kinds of recipes to satisfy her, but almost all of them failed. Until one day, he prepared a very thin egg pasta made with his hands and decided to connect the pasta with two ingredients: butter and parmesan. He mixed this all up with a fork and a spoon, and while he mixed this with such passion it was like a dance in front of his wife. She loved it, and this pasta would soon be ingrained in history as Fettuccine Alfredo.

Alfredo's restaurant, on a side street near Piazza Navona

Now for the story that most Americans know, the commercial love story. Actors in the 1920s, Mary Pickford, who was a partner of Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks, were known by everyone in America as film stars. Mary and Douglas visited this restaurant during their honeymoon to try and experience Fettuccine Alfredo for themselves. They ended up loving the pasta so much that they sent a gold fork and spoon with their signatures to the restaurant. They called Alfredo the king of fettuccine, and when they came back to America, they told the world about their experience with this recipe. Since then, all of the actors and Hollywood stars would come to this restaurant, get a photo, leave their signature, and try the Fettucine Alfredo. Most Americans know this story behind the plate, but only few truly know the original one of Alfredo Di Lelio and his wife.

Then 1943 came, and Alfredo became increasingly concerned about the ongoing world events happening, especially because he was Jewish. He had to make the extremely hard decision to surrender his business to two of his most trusted men, Giuseppe Mozzetti and Ubaldo Salvatori, who both already worked at the restaurant. These two men loved their job, and had so much respect and appreciation for the person who taught them. Alfredo knew that these two would carry on the tradition and love that not only comes with the ownership of the restaurant, but simply the preparation of the pasta. As the original story comes to a close, over a century later, the tradition still lives on where you can still experience what Alfredo used to do for the customers coming in, preparing the pasta right in front of you.

Sign outside the restaurant, which reads "The birthplace of the original Fettuccine Alfredo"

Mario was enthusiastic when he told me about the original story of the creation of the pasta. He truly wants the world to know the original Roman love story that created the dish that is now known all around the world; and I hope to be able to educate all of you reading this, through his story, how much depth there is behind such a simple dish. He told me that his job and purpose is to educate Americans on what Fettucine Alfredo really is. Although many places in America “make” Fettuccine Alfredo, so many of them don’t know the ingredients. Traditionally in America white cream is used in the recipe, and these restaurants have little information on the original story on why the pasta came to be, just the commercial one.

My Experience:

Mario was kind enough to invite my friends and I to dinner at his restaurant. Although the prices were a little steep, I recommend this experience to anyone. The pasta was stirred up right in front of you with the traditional fork and spoon, and one person at the table was randomly given the stirring pasta dish to eat out of, which I was lucky enough to receive. The workers there went out of their way to make sure you got everything you wanted and were extremely kind. Below I added some pictures from my experience, and I must say, it was the best Fettuccine Alfredo I have ever eaten.

Final Regards:

I would like to thank Mario for this amazing opportunity, and for my final article to be one that has left a lasting impact on me. Thank you to the newspaper staff for making this happen, and all of the readers who have kept this alive, for hopefully years to come. This has been Megan Lawrence, the freshman culinary editor, who dreams of opening their own bakery. Thank you Bocca del Lupo.

Megan Lawrence with the special 'mixing' plate used to make the dish table-side

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