Originally Alfredo

When one thinks of Italian food, several staples come to mind: spaghetti, lasagne, fettuccine alfredo, and, of course, tiramisu and espresso. This is a tale about all of these except spaghetti and lasagne.

In the lead up to our Italy trip, my boss’s father, Philip, casually mentioned that we had to go to Alfredo alla Scrofa. I knew we didn’t have a lot of time in Rome, so I told him we would try. Not satisfied with this answer, he explained “but you must. It’s where fettuccine alfredo originated.”

Mi scusi?

He smiled, knowing he had hooked me. “Yes,” he continued, “it’s where fettuccine alfredo originated and simply must go there. It’s what you do when you go to Rome—you go to Alfredo’s, you eat alfredo, and then maybe see a few historical things. Please promise me you’ll go.”

I triple promised and then checked with Ann & Cait to see if they were on board—and of course they were because hello! fettuccine alfredo!

On our first full day in Rome, we spent the morning exploring the Vatican and St. Paul’s cathedral. Realizing we were only about 20 minute walk from pasta bliss and looking for a late lunch, it seemed like the perfect solution. We wound our way down the cobbled streets along the Tiber, amongst the street vendors, and surrounded by the ancient grandeur that is the very essence of Rome. The good news: we found it! The bad news: they were finishing lunch and were in the process of closing until dinner. We felt disheartened, but conveyed to the gentleman at the door we came all the way there to try to alfredo and would definitely be back when they opened for dinner.

In true Italian hospitality or perhaps sensing we might burst into tears right then and there, the gentlemen ushered us inside. Since we were there for the alfredo, he was insistent that we stay for lunch. We thanked him profusely and asked if we might get some vino as well. He laughed, assured us vino was always available, and showed us to our table. He explained alfredo was served family size, which we told him was perfect and deferred to him about our wine selection.

He returned a few minutes later with chianti and promised us that food would be out shortly. True to his word, soon a huge platter of pasta came out. We watched the server expertly mix the sauce into the pasta, and then served us from the platter.

It was, quite simply, one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. The fresh noodles were cooked to al dente perfection. The sauce was creamy, buttery, and silky, but had a lightness about it that I had never tasted in an alfredo.

Somehow—probably on a pasta high—as we were finishing the last of the pasta and trying not to lick the plate, we took the waiter up on his offer of tiramisu and espresso.

While the alfredo was definitely the star of the show, the tiramisu was heavenly as well. It was the right balance of layered coffee, chocolate, and cream. It paired oh-so-well with the espresso.

Alfredo. Plus wine. Plus tiramisu. Plus espresso. Plus amazing friends. Plus history of the restaurant. Plus ambiance of being in Rome. Easily, one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.

Our only regret was that we didn’t make it back before departing Italy.

Therefore—if I can piggyback and expand onto Philip’s advice—when you go to Rome: go to Alfredo’s, eat the fettuccine alfredo and the tiramisu, maybe see some historical sites, and enjoy la dolce vita.

And in case you want to bring that delicious goodiness back home with you to eat any time, the restaurant offers cooking classes to make pizza, alfredo, and pastries. https://www.alfredoallascrofa.com/cooking-class

buon appetito!

Simply Perfect

It’s hard to say which I love more: Little Italy in the summertime–sitting outside, enjoying the bustling on the street and the busyness of the convergence of tourists OR Little Italy in the wintertime–enjoying a hearty pasta dish, watching the snow fall, and the quietness that takes over.

I guess the real answer is that I just love Little Italy.  Sure, it’s a tourist trap.  But, then again, I will never consider myself a New Yorker–so I feel it perfectly acceptable to visit whenever and how often I like.

summertime in little Italy

summertime in little Italy

Especially when I have friends in town.  I think it’s THE thing to do if you come to NYC.  Well, aside from ride the Staten Island Ferry. The food is amazing.  Truly.  It doesn’t matter where you stop.  Be charmed by one of the old Italians begging to “come in, come in and eat!” and just try it out.

My favorite place to go is Da Gennaro for 2 reasons:

1. The olive oil and bread that they bring out to your table is by far the best that I’ve found.  ANY WHERE.  The olive oil is infused with spices and garlic and the bread is warm and crispy and everything that you imagine and want it to be.

olive oil & bread

olive oil & bread

2.  The spaghetti carbonara is real.  I know this seems like a bit of odd statement, but any of you who love carbonara and try to order it know that it’s a challenge.  As my BFF recently commented: you can totally taste when they don’t add the egg.  And she’s right.  There’s nothing worse that ordering and anticipating carbonara and getting something that tastes like “alfredo-lite”.  All together now:  eeeeuuuuuwww!

But not this carbonara: this one is rich and decadent–with just enough onion, proscuitto, and basil to make it, well, simply perfect.  I know it’s a big statement to make.  But I’m making it.  To me, it is simply the perfect carbonara.