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How Massi Pregoni, an Italian Actor, Eats in America

9:00 AM EDT on April 14, 2023

Massi Pregoni

Massi Pregoni

Born and raised in Rome, Italy, Massi Pregoni is an LA-based actor and dual citizen of both the USA and Italy. At 17, he moved to America for an opportunity along with his brother, Andrea Pregoni, a professional soccer player. Once established in Los Angeles, Massi caught the acting bug and began working in the industry.

Most recently, he appeared in Max Original series Made For Love alongside Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano and Billy Magnussen. Massi has also starred in numerous commercials, including spots for Nintendo, Starbucks, Amazon and LG.

Massi also provided voiceover work for Netflix's animation feature Pinocchio, directed by Guillermo del Toro, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

In between sets, Massi loves creating skits for his TikTok page @Dontpanicmassi, where he as over 400,000 followers and hundreds of millions of views by fans across the globe for his sketches in fluent English, Italian and Spanish.

He loves sharing his time between LA, Rome, and wherever else his talent takes him. Safe to say Massi’s cultural identity plays a large role in his work as an artist. We connected with Massi to find out about how he as an Italian eats in America.

What was your first impression of the food when you moved to America?

I finally saw foods that I would see in movies and TV shows. Up until then, these dishes were sites I had only seen on screen. I could only ponder as to what they smelled like and of course, taste like. I was in awe.

What's your overall favorite non-Italian food in America?

Mac 'n Cheese. Sorry, papa. My Italian dad is not a fan, but boy is that stuff good. And for those who think Mac 'n Cheese is an Italian dish, talk to my papa; he’ll set things straight. He’s from Catanzaro, Calabria.

We’re you surprised by any of the foods, Italian or not, you discovered in America?

I was surprised to discover how many dishes people here labeled as “Italian” which I never heard of before (laughs). Chicken Fettucine Alfredo. Chicken Parmesan pasta. The whole concept of mixing chicken and pasta into one dish creates a whole emotion of its own. I still haven’t told my dad about these dishes. That’s for another conversation.

On a scale of one to 10, how do you rate Italian food in America?

If we’re eating at my mamma’s house (she lives in Orange County, CA), we’re looking at a modest 11. If we’re eating at an Italian restaurant, I’ll be a gentleman and say I do not often attend Italian restaurants out here. However, the few Italian places I liked, they were quite high on the scale.

Are there any Italian products that you wish you could readily get here that you can't?

Mulino Bianco cookies and sweets. Many of their best products are impossible to find here. You gatta know somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody to find that good stuff. Luckily, I know somebody. 

What is your favorite Italian dish to make at home? 

Amatriciana. My favorite pasta in the world. It surely costs me an arm and a leg to buy the proper ingredients from Eataly, but the goodness of this dish while I eat it makes me forget about the receipt. And I’ll do it all over again.

Are there any Italian places where you live that you like to go out to eat?

Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana. They’re located in Fullerton, about an hour from LA. It’s family-run by Tullio and Franco. This joint is the real deal. And it’s 15 minutes from Disneyland. What more could you ask for? Order a Margherita to go and kick it with Mickey Mouse all in one day.

Any place you haven’t tried yet but want to go?

I want to go to Chicago and try a deep-dish pizza. Never had it. Looks illegal. I may lose my Italian passport after eating it, but hey, hopefully I get a good slice.

Is there a kind of cuisine, other than Italian, that you might go out for?

Japanese and Mexican cuisine. Not in the same night though!  

Let’s get back to Italian food. The next time you go back to Italy, where's the first place you're going to go eat?

I’m going back in December. Straight to Papa’s apartment. There’s nothing like that man’s cooking. His Amatriciana sauce tastes like my childhood in the best sense. One bite of that dish and you’ll never want to leave the house. He’ll need to call the cops (laughs).

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