As simple as its sumptuous, fettuccine Alfredo is a staple at many Italian-American restaurants. The standard version of the dish contains just three basic ingredients: fettuccine pasta, Parmesan cheese, and butter. Flat and thick, fettuccine makes the perfect base for holding the rich sauce that combines the creamy and smooth texture of butter with crumbly Parmesan. The pasta's al dente texture is crucial, here, leaving the dish with a slight chewiness that adds to the overall experience.
Fettuccine Alfredo was first made in Rome in 1908 by Alfredo di Lelio. Alfredo created the dish for his wife who struggled with her appetite following childbirth. The story goes that the dish gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1920s after two recently-married Hollywood personalities, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, tried it at Alfredo's restaurant. They were so impressed that they spoke of it upon their return to America. Their endorsement helped to popularize fettuccine Alfredo in the U.S., where it became a staple of Italian-American cuisine.
Today, fettuccine Alfredo features on the menus of many chain restaurants in the U.S. While the core of the dish remains the same, it has been adapted to suit a variety of tastes at different spots. Not sure where to get your fettuccine Alfredo? Take a look at our ranking of chain restaurant takes on the dish, as rated by customers.
11. Bertucci's Italian Restaurant
While Bertucci's dishes have been inspired by family recipes, not all of the chain's dishes follow tradition. Several menu items at this place feature contemporary twists and incorporate alternative ingredients, including the fettuccine Alfredo. Rather than following the traditional fettuccine Alfredo recipe, the Bertucci's version of the dish is made with Pecorino Romano. Made from sheep's milk, Pecorino Romano tends to be sharper and saltier than Parmesan, adding robustness to the pasta dish.
While innovation in the kitchen can lead to new and exciting culinary experiences, Bertucci's attempt at reinventing fettuccine Alfredo falls short of the mark. One diner recommends staying away from the dish, writing "The fettuccine Alfredo was horrible! It tasted like a bowl full of noodles with milk. In addition, there was about a cup of cilantro dumped on top!! If you're going to put that much cilantro on it, it should say so on the menu!" Another reviewer shares this opinion: "Unfortunately I was very disappointed with the Alfredo as it was very thin and lacked flavor."
10. Bravo! Italian Kitchen
With more than 25 locations across the U.S., Bravo! Italian Kitchen has expanded significantly since opening its first restaurant in Columbus, Ohio in 1992. The chain prides itself on using fresh ingredients to make both classic and more modern Italian dishes, including fettuccine Alfredo.
Despite the wide selection, Bravo! Italian Kitchen's fettuccine Alfredo creations haven't received the green light from diners, with many complaining that the pasta was too dry. One dissatisfied reviewer says: "My daughter's fettuccine Alfredo looked like half an order or leftovers and barely had any sauce. My Pasta Woozie had virtually NO Alfredo sauce. The pasta was so dry it was sticking together on both meals."
Another patron confirms this sad state of affairs, saying, "The entrees, both with Alfredo sauce, were so dry it was very hard to eat them and we eventually had to doctor them up with butter and olive oil from home."
9. Johnny Carino's
Jalapeños are typically used to add a spicy kick to Latin American dishes. As such, it may come as a surprise that Johnny Carino's serves a jalapeño Alfredo sauce with its fettuccine. Of, course you can opt for a classic version of the dish without the spicy kick. If you're craving protein, you can have your fettuccine Alfredo topped with either chicken or shrimp at an additional cost.
Despite the variety of options, Johnny Carino's' fettuccine Alfredo hasn't fared overly well with diners, with many complaining about the quality and quantity of the sauce. One reviewer notes that the dish "was extremely runny, (like soup), it had very little taste. We asked the server about it, and she added a huge amount of Parmesan on top to try to help. It still was runny and bland."
Another diner also expresses disappointment, saying, "The fettuccine Alfredo had almost no sauce on it whatsoever, there was hardly any let alone anywhere near enough for the amount of noodles." According to another customer, the dish they received was seriously lacking in the chicken department, with only an estimated tablespoon and a half of the protein in their order.
8. The Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurant
The Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurant loves its Alfredo sauce. Aside from Fettuccine Alfredo, Grilled Chicken Alfredo, and Shrimp Alfredo, the chain also offers several other Alfredo-packed dishes, including the restaurant's signature 15-layer Classic Lasagna with Alfredo Sauce.
Despite its focus on Alfredo sauce, the reception of the restaurant's take on fettuccine Alfredo amongst diners has been lukewarm at best. While one reviewer has called the dish excellent and deemed it of good value, they are in the minority. The main complaint from diners is that the dish is tasteless. As one unhappy diner explains: "he sauce was extremely bland, had no flavor at all, the noodles were way overcooked and tasted like pure water."
One customer thought the dish was so flavorless that they had to season their own meal at the table, saying, "I added the butter [and salt] the restaurant provided [to the] Alfredo sauce."
After changing hands several times, Fazoli's is currently owned by Fat Brands, a global franchising company that specializes in acquiring and operating restaurant chains. Whether the 2021 acquisition will affect the quality of the chain's food remains to be seen. As it stands, Fazoli's version of fettuccine Alfredo is made with Parmesan, garlic, and Italian herbs. Meanwhile, the chain's Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo comes with Parmesan and oven-roasted chicken breast. While the menu describes the dish as creamy, we are not sure whether it contains cream or butter.
Fazoli's fettuccine Alfredo has earned mixed feedback from diners, with some enjoying the dish and others finding it seriously lacking. One reviewer calls the pasta dish delicious while another patron goes as far as saying that they would love to get their hands on the recipe.
On the downside, one reviewer says that the pasta was soupy on the bottom, adding, "[It was] so runny that it didn't even resemble creamy sauce. What a waste of money!" Another diner is even more damning, saying, "The Alfredo tasted old and had a mildewing taste."
6. The Old Spaghetti Factory
Established in 1969 by a husband and wife duo, The Old Spaghetti Factory offers a distinctive dining experience in converted warehouses and other historic buildings. The interiors of these restaurants are often noted for their antique and eclectic decorations, including vintage booths and trolley cars. In terms of food, The Old Spaghetti Factory offers a menu focused primarily on Italian cuisine, with an emphasis on spaghetti dishes. One of these is Fettuccine Alfredo, made with butter, cream, and Romano cheese. Alfredo sauce also appears in the chain's other dishes such as Spinach Tortellini with Alfredo Sauce and Breast of Chicken Fettuccine.
While some reviewers have praised The Old Spaghetti Factory Fettuccine Alfredo, saying that it's awesome and a firm favorite, others haven't been quite as enthusiastic. The biggest complaint has been that the chain's Alfredo sauce is ... well ... bland. One patron says: "The fettuccine Alfredo waaaas.. underwhelming? A little bland? It wasn't bad. I was just expecting a little more flavor but I still ate it all." Another reviewer concurs, saying, "My fettuccine Alfredo was bland and there was a huge ball of unmelted cheese."
5. Olive Garden
What sets Olive Garden apart from other chains is its impressive selection of fettuccine dishes, with five distinct versions of this classic pasta, each delivering its own unique twist. Aside from its standard Fettuccine Alfredo with butter, Parmesan, cream, and garlic, the chain also offers versions of the dish with chicken, shrimp, chicken tortelloni, and seafood.
Unfortunately, while Olive Garden diners may be spoiled for choice, the restaurant's fettuccine Alfredo dishes haven't hit the mark with everyone. While some reviewers describe the pasta as their favorite, others have expressed dissatisfaction with the dish, saying that the sauce is overly runny and insufficient for the amount of pasta served.
One Reddit user who posted a less-than-inspiring photo of Olive Garden's Fettuccine Alfredo with unmixed blobs of Alfredo sauce received a very interesting response from an alleged former Olive Garden employee. "I would NEVER have let anything that looked like that leave our kitchen," they wrote. "I used to vet all of my orders so I'm supremely upset that your food was served like that."
4. Romano's Macaroni Grill
Founded in 1988 by Phil Romano, who was inspired by his grandmother's Italian dishes, today Romano's Macaroni Grill boasts over 30 locations across the U.S. that serve a range of classic American-Italian dishes. One of these is Fettuccine Alfredo, which comes with butter, cream, and Parmesan, as well as chicken and shrimp at an additional cost. You can also create your own pasta dish with Alfredo sauce, your choice of pasta, and other ingredients such as Italian sausage, prosciutto, mushrooms, and roasted peppers.
Romano's fettuccine Alfredo has received a mixed reception from diners. One enthusiastic diner sings the dish's praises, saying, "The fettuccine Alfredo here has always been one of my favorite restaurant Alfredos as it never disappoints! It's got the right amount of creaminess and an amazing flavor that leaves an incredible after-taste that'll leave you wanting more!" However, not everybody agrees, with one reviewer stating: "The Fettuccine Alfredo was plain and boring, pasta was warm but tasteless and the sauce of a weak milky texture, a little cheese, and garnish might have helped."
3. The Cheesecake Factory
According to original reporting published in Vox, the restaurant known as The Cheesecake Factory serves 200,000 fettuccine Alfredos per month, making it the chain's most popular dish. While we know that most customers rate it highly, The Cheesecake Factory's take on fettuccine Alfredo diverges from the traditional version of the dish and opts for cream instead of butter. It also serves Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken and Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp.
The Cheesecake Factory's fettuccine Alfredo has earned rave reviews from most customers, with many patrons complimenting the pasta's flavor and its generous portions. One reviewer says that the dish was so large they couldn't finish it, adding, "The pasta sauce was creamy and delicious and the chicken was moist and flavorsome."
While some other satisfied patrons describe the dish as no less than perfect and delicious, it may not be ideal for those who don't enjoy rich pasta sauces. Alice Levitt, who reviewed the dish for Insider, says that the addition of cream to the sauce overshadows the Parmesan. She also noted that the pasta in her order was overcooked.
2. Buca Di Beppo
Buca di Beppo's portions are seriously large! Made for sharing, the restaurant's generous servings create a dining experience that's perfect for groups and families. The chain's fettuccine Alfredo is no exception. The dish comes in a standard size, as well as larger portions for three or five diners. Alfredo sauce is also a popular feature in other Buca di Beppo offerings, including Cheese Manicotti stuffed with Parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta cheeses, and topped with Alfredo and marinara sauces.
The chain's Fettuccine Alfredo has garnered mostly positive feedback from those who have tried it. One happy reviewer says "The Alfredo sauce was the best ever. I could tell it was freshly made." Another customer echoes this sentiment, saying, "[The] Alfredo is so creamy and homemade! It does not taste like a canned sauce at all!!!!"
On the flip side, not everybody has been so enamored with the dish, with one reviewer their order was "a little on the dry side. So I had to order extra Alfredo sauce. Which was perfect."
1. Maggiano's Little Italy
Maggiano's Little Italy offers a unique twist on fettuccine Alfredo, using asiago cheese instead of parmesan. While both cheeses are similar in taste, asiago is sweeter and less sharp than Parmesan. Unlike many other restaurants that serve fettuccine Alfredo without additions, Maggiano's classic version includes herb-roasted chicken. Interestingly, the chain's Chicken and Spinach Manicotti and Four-Cheese Ravioli comes with an Alfredo sauce that contains Parmesan cheese.
The chain's fettuccine Alfredo has been well-received by a significant portion of diners. One reviewer says that "I'm SUPER picky about any fettuccine Alfredo that I eat and Maggianos KNOWS how to make it, perfectly, every single time." Other diners agree, saying that the pasta is filling and seriously tasty. On a slightly negative note, another customer mentions that their Alfredo sauce was runny, although they still expressed their love for the dish and rate it a nine out of 10.
For this article, we drew on customer reviews of each restaurant's take on fettuccine Alfredo, posted online in social media forums and official review sites.
Read the original article on Mashed.