Alessandra hails from the city of Naples, Italy, and now calls Port Macquarie her home. She shares with us her passion for traditional Neapolitan food and her local business, which serves up dishes that are true to her roots.
Alessandra, can you tell us a little about where you grew up and how you came to be here in Port Macquarie.
I was born and grew up in Naples, but I have been living half of my life abroad and have been travelling a lot for work and passion. All of my family and best friends are in Naples and all around the world.
I met my husband, Christian, in Byron Bay for the first time six years ago, then in India the second time when we were both practicing Ashtanga Yoga. Since then, we have been together. I moved with him to Byron in 2015, and last June we decided it was the best for us to move down here in Port to raise our son and restart our life.
How long have you been cooking traditional Neapolitan food in a commercial sense?
For 15 years on the side of career jobs in big companies like Yoox, Tods and Google.
What is an Osteria?
In Italy, an Osteria is a convivial place where you can taste traditional meals and local specialties – wine and simple food – served at shared tables, enjoying the company of friends and family in an intimate atmosphere that feels like your grandmother’s home. I always loved the warmth and the love behind this way of serving meals and creating a culture with food.
What are some of the traditions when cooking in your culture?
Singing and dancing while cooking. Slow prepping and slow cooking with lots of love, patience, passion, humility and hand-making. Be generous with the ingredients, above all when using extra virgin olive oil.
Where did you learn your recipes?
From my grandma, Nonna Mena, my first mother-in-law Rosetta, my super chef Aunty Anna, and lately my mother Maria Cristina. I come from a big family of cooks.
How easy is it to source the right ingredients here in Port Macquarie?
We have been really lucky to find some amazing local suppliers in Kenny Little’s, Gourmand Ingredients, Colonial Quality Meats, Port Fresh Seafood, just to name few.
You have been hosting some pop up dinners. Can you tell us about the food truck and how it got started?
I have always been cooking and delivering food since a young age; I always dreamed of having a mobile vehicle that would allow me to spread my food creations.
When we moved to Port, due to several reasons I felt the urge to finally create my own mobile restaurant, my mobile Osteria. I felt here it was the right place to finally give birth to my dream. A chef we knew from Byron, where we used to live, happened to sell her food van that we always loved, so we thought that the universe was sending us the message to start now.
Why do you love hosting and cooking?
Cooking and hosting is an act of love for me. Through the cooking I am able to bring to life all my curiosity and creativity about food and keep the connection to my roots alive. Hosting is a celebration of life, and to me, life has always been a precious gift to celebrate, every day.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
Traditional Neapolitan meatballs with tomato sauce.
Where can we find your next pop up?
We have few different types of pop up events, happening a few times in a month. Firstly, our pop up dinners and lunches – they are an authentic intimate food journey into the Neapolitan/Italian culture, with very limited seats, pre-booking, all the meals handmade, hand-crafted, included the soundtrack, created just for the event, and lots of story-tellings – they’re very special, magic events. Then we have the authentic Italian gourmet street food nights; no pre-booking, everyone is welcome, where we serve traditional Neapolitan meals in a street food way. On Friday 7th June, we will have our second street food night, and the next pop up dinner on Friday 21st June, both held at beautiful Bandwagon Café. We are really grateful to the owners of Bandwagon, Tash and Dano, who have believed in us since the beginning and continue to support us.