The story goes that his after his wife gave birth to their firstborn son, Armando, her health declined. Alfredo, concerned for her wellbeing, tried all sorts of healthy and nutritious recipes to nurse her back to health. One of these dishes was flat noodles mixed with butter and fresh Parmesan. As a good Catholic, to be sure he covered all bases, he also prayed to St. Anna, the patron saint of pregnant women. His wife Ines ate the dish with gusto and recovered, then suggested he add the dish to the family restaurant's menu.
In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio sold Ristorante Alfredo to others outside his family. In 1950 Di Lelio decided to reopen a restaurant with his son Armando on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore across from the tomb of Augustus. Il Vero Alfredo (the REAL Alfredo), which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo and Ines, with the famous logo of the gold cutlery (fork and spoon) donated in 1927 by two well-known, old school American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for his hospitality). In Rome there are many other restaurants called "Alfredo" that have nothing to do with the Di Lelio family lineage. In a way, this reminds me of the story of "Ray's Pizza" in Manhattan. There are many... "Ray's Original Pizza", "Famous Ray's Pizza" and "World-Famous Original Ray's Pizza"and even a "Not Ray's Pizza"... recently there were 49 variations of "Ray's" pizza shops in New York City.
The bottom line is, the fame of fettucine all' Alfredo mostly spread to places other than Italy itself. Most Italians don't eat it or haven't heard of it. It's an old import from the days of Sinatra, shark skin suits and men wearing hats. Italians think of it as an American dish. Perhaps this is because Italians don't typically have butter on their pasta (or their bread, for that matter). However, if you want to search out the "birthplace" of fettucine alfredo, while discovering the roots of the Olive Garden, book a reservation and follow the tourists into the dining room of Il Vero Alfredo. You'll have a fairly good meal, be taken care of properly by lack luster waiters and be serenaded by someone playing accordion... over and over and over again during your meal. You might even see Alfredo's grandson (Alfredo III) sporting the same outlandish 'stach as his father (Armando, aka Alfredo II) and grandfather did, wandering around trying to stuff mouths with fist-fulls of fettuccine.
Il Vero Alfredo
Piazza Augusto Imperatore 30
00186 Rome Italy Phone number +39 06 6878734
If you enjoyed this post, please LIKE and SHARE it. Grazie!
Copyright, Jerry Finzi, Grand Voyage Italy, All rights reserved