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How the Talented Italian Alessandra Mai Vinh Eats in America

Verona-born model/dancer/choreographer, Alessandra Mai Vinh, shares with Appetito her experiences with food as an Italian in America.

Italian-born model/dancer/choreographer Alessandra Mai Vinh.

Italian-born model/dancer/choreographer Alessandra Mai Vinh.

Born in Verona, Italy, Alessandra Mai Vinh, is of Vietnamese descent, her cultural roots deeply embedded in her upbringing. Renowned for her modeling, dance, and choreography talents, Alessandra has transcended boundaries, showcasing her unique blend of Italian and Vietnamese heritage on the global stage. Alessandra's journey took her to the vibrant metropolis of New York City, where she arrived to study at the renowned Broadway Dance Center. Now based in Los Angeles, she has garnered acclaim for her work as a dancer and as a model for prestigious Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Nike, Chase Bank, AT&T, American Express, Lyft, Meta, and more. Alessandra serves as a symbol of diversity and representation in the media and entertainment industry, fostering connections between Italy, Vietnam, and the USA, and advocating for greater Asian visibility worldwide. All of her accomplishments aside, Appetito wants to know how Alessandra eats in America.

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

Coming from Italy, the food scene in New York City was pretty wild. There was so much variety, from street food to fancy restaurants. Portion sizes were massive compared to what I was used to, but it was a fun adventure trying out all the different eats the city had to offer.

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

I love anything Middle Eastern. 

Were you surprised by any of the foods, Italian or not, you discovered in America?

Coming from Italy, I was surprised, not exactly in a positive way, to find that some Italian American places serve pasta with tomato sauce simply on top, rather than mixed in. The concept of chicken pasta also caught me off guard. 

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

In places like New York and Los Angeles, where food scenes are buzzing, I'd easily give Italian food a 9 if you know where to look. But once you venture out to smaller towns and cities across America, it's a bit more hit-or-miss. You'll still find some gems, but it might take a bit more digging to find that authentic Italian experience.

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

Panna Chef, Lemon Estathé, formaggini Susanna, Rio Mare tuna, and Kinder Eggs are some Italian foods that can be a bit hard to come by in the States. While Kinder Eggs are actually illegal due to safety regulations, you might have better luck finding the others in specialty stores or online. 

What is your favorite Italian dish to make at home? 

I like making Parmigiana because it's the only thing I can make decently. But I'm afraid of frying because of the boiling oil. My love for Parmigiana outweighs the anxiety that I have to endure while frying the slices of eggplant.

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

In Los Angeles, I love going to Pizzeria Sei, Italia Pasta e Pizza (a food truck owned by the sweetest family from Salerno), Oste, Capri Club, and Uovo. 

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

I’d like to try Spina and the Italian American spot Sunday Gravy.

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

Besides going to Italian places 99% of the time, I go out for Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, and Indian food. 

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 love going to Antica Osteria al Duomo in the heart of my hometown, Verona. Besides the amazing food, I love the feeling of being in a medieval basement far from everyone so I can think about my life. LOL. 

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