Eat the Fettuccine Alfredo Pickford and Fairbanks Brought to America
One of the coolest places to visit if you are on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is the one no one told you about.
I’m betting not one Visit LA, or Things to Do in Hollywood website or brochure told you to make it a point to eat in the restaurant where silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford brought the recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo to America.
It’s called the Musso & Frank Grill and it’s on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6667 Hollywood Blvd, just east of Las Palmas Ave. The Musso & Frank Grill’s was opened in 1919 by entrepreneur Frank Toulet, restaurateur Joseph Musso and the French chef Jean Rue. Its history is as rich and colorful as Hollywood itself.
Fairbanks and Pickford weren’t the only stars that hung out there. Charlie Chaplin, whose studio was just down the road, ate there so much he had his own booth. Other celebrities that hung out there include Greta Garbo, Rudolph Valentino, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, and Marilyn Monroe, and the list goes on.
The restaurant’s back room hosted the glitziest private parties in Hollywood. It was also a second home to some of the greatest writers in American history. Regulars included influential writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler, John O’Hara, T.S. Elliot, and Dorothy Parker.
How Fettuccine Alfredo Came to America
Fettuccine Alfredo was actually invented by Chef Alfredo di Lelio in 1914 for his pregnant wife who had terrible morning sickness. It was about the only thing she could eat. It was so delicious he added it to the menu of his small restaurant on the Via della Scrofa in Rome.
In 1920, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford went to Rome on their honeymoon and ate at Alfredo’s cafe. The stars tried the dish, which was then called pasta al burro, and loved it so much they asked for the recipe.
The newlywed silent film stars brought the recipe to the he Musso and Frank Grill. Then the Hollywood restaurant of the stars. Fairbanks and Pickford sent Alfredo and his wife a gold fork and spoon, engraved with the words “To Alfredo, the King of the Noodles.” Hollywood papers reported on the gift, which also included a photo of the two stars in the restaurant, and pretty soon, Alfredo’s restaurant in Rome became a tourist destination, which you can still visit today.
The publicity resulted in Angelenos flocking to the Musso & Frank Grill to try the hot new Italian dish and Fettuccine Alfredo was soon an American favorite.
The Musso & Frank Grill website tells the story slightly differently:
Silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were frequent guests at Musso’s. While on their honeymoon in Rome, they dined at Alfredo’s restaurant and after tasting the Fettucine Alfredo, they begged Alfredo for the recipe. He declined them. The next night the newlyweds again dined at Alfredo’s and presented a golden fork and spoon to Alfredo. This time they got the recipe and brought it back to Hollywood. They asked Musso’s chef, Jean Rue, to make the dish. He often prepared it specially for the famous couple, but the dish was never added to the menu. We now proudly serve the ORIGINAL Fettucine Alfredo as prepared for Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
So there you have it. Obviously you will want to add the Musso & Frank Grill to your Things to do in Hollywood bucket list so you can taste the ORIGINAL Fettuccine Alfredo that Pickford and Fairbanks loved so much!
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