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5 Best Grilling Recipes to Bring to Your Italian Table

Colorful Silk Tulips in tiny glass vases (you can use again)

Grilled Marinated Shrimp with dipping sauce served in Asian soup spoons




Food pairs especially well with rosato wine from Italy. These blush pink wines, often called Rose, have a crispness that brings out the flavor in food. The wine is subtle and doesn’t overpower your recipes. Also lovely summer additions are Antinori Villa Toscana, intense red color and fruity blend is a Super Tuscan; San Giovanni Della Sala by Antinori, a white Orvieto DOC Classico Superiore and Tenuta Raputala Sire Nero DOC, red Syrah.


Summer Sundays in Marion’s Backyard

How Italians Grill

The summertime barbeque season is in full swing. Italian Americans have certainly perfected the art of grilling and have made it into a gourmet seasonal experience. Cooking over a grill is both a traditional and essential part of Italian cooking and I have some tantalizingly delicious recipes to offer. Prepare these dishes for your family or for a gathering with friends. I enjoy taking you into my backyard each week and hopefully you too have a passion for cooking. While making these recipes, not only do you learn something about our great heritage, but you’ll absolutely love the results. It is no wonder that our Italian cuisine is so beloved around the world! Italian grilling requires little sauces and often uses a light marinade that enhances the flavors of meat, poultry, shellfish, veggies and yes, even pizza! So Let’s Grill Like the Italians.

Grilling Tips

  • Use wood chips or chunks of wood to add a smoky flavor to pork and beef
  • Grill large cuts of meat and whole birds over indirect heat in order to cook to the desired temperature, without burning the outside
  • Buy a rotisserie attachment for your grill to create recipes that taste like they were made in the Italian countryside
  • Cook on a piastra, either a griddle or a flat stone over an open fire
  • Make your grilled foods more Italian by incorporating items such as arugula, bottarga (dried tuna roe), fennel pollen, porcini powder, fregula (semolina paste), anchovies and caper berries.


Everyone loves ribs prepared on the grill. This recipe uses a heavier sauce than most Italian grilling dishes, but you will love the results!

Italian Style Ribs


  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 10 bunches rosemary, soaked overnight in water to cover
  • 3 large racks baby back ribs (about 2½ to 3 lbs. per rack)


  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce


To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. The sauce will keep for at least a week tightly covered in the refrigerator.

To make the ribs, prepare your grill for cooking. In a small bowl, combine paprika, brown sugar, salt, cumin, garlic and mix well. Place the ribs on a large baking sheet and rub generously on both sides with the spice mixture. Let stand for 2 hours at cool room temperature or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours. Pour about 2/3 cup of the barbecue sauce into a small bowl for basting and pour the rest into a small serving bowl; refrigerate both bowls until about 30 minutes before serving. Place the ribs on the cooler part of the grill, lay 1 bunch of wet rosemary on the hot part of the grill and immediately cover the grill. Cook the ribs for 5 hours; the temperature in the grill should be roughly 250°F. Every 30 minutes, place another bunch of wet rosemary on the hot part of the grill and immediately cover the grill to keep it smoky. Thirty minutes before the ribs are done, brush a light coating of barbecue sauce over them and then repeat every 10 minutes. Transfer the racks to a carving board and cut them into individual ribs. Serve with the remaining barbecue sauce.

Mussels alla Piastra


  • 4 pounds of small mussels (scrubbed and debearded)
  • grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 jalapeno (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • 2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 bunch lemon thyme (leaves only)
  • 2 scallions (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • splash of water or white wine


Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Place a piastra on the grill to preheat for at least 15 minutes.

Put the mussels into a large metal bowl. Drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the bread crumbs, prosciutto, lemon thyme, orange and lemon zest and juice, jalapeno and scallions in a food processor and zap until well mixed, six or seven pulses.

Add breadcrumb mixture to mussels and toss to combine. Pour the olive oil onto the piastra (if your piastra is not large enough, cook the mussels in two batches). Working quickly, dump the mussels (with everything else in the bowl) onto the piastra, add a splash of water (or white wine if you’re using it) and cover with the inverted bowl. Remove the bowl after 2 minutes and gently stir the mussels around. Continue cooking, uncovered, for about 3 minutes longer, until they all open. Transfer the mussels to a platter as they open and discard any that do not open. Scrape up any breadcrumb mixture remaining on the piastra, scatter it over the mussels, squeeze a little extra lemon juice on top and serve immediately.

Italian-Style Grilled Polpo

One of the tricks to having delicious polpo – tender octopus – is that you should allow it to come to room temperature before grilling. For me, the smoky flavor of a charcoal or wood grill is what gives grilled octopus its unique flavor, but you can use a gas grill if you must. The grilling time is minimal, but it really enhances the flavor of the octopus, creating a slightly crispy outside, while keeping the inside tender. The easiest way to grill an octopus is to leave it whole and then cut into pieces before serving. To serve, simply dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.


  • 3 lbs cleaned octopus
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup whole peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, plus additional lemon wedges for serving
  • 1 wine cork
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil divided


In a large pot, place the octopus along with the wine, peppercorns, 1 lemon cut in half, garlic and a wine cork. Adding a cork to the mixture is an old wives tale said to keep the polpo tender. Cover with water about an inch above the ingredients and bring to a boil over medium high flame. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the octopus until it is tender when pierced with a knife (the cooking time will vary according to the size of the octopus, but figure about an hour). Drain and allow the octopus to cool to room temperature. Light your grill and when ready, toss the octopus with ¼ cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the octopus on the grill and cook for a few minutes on both sides until the octopus is well browned, but still remains moist, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Cut the octopus tentacles and place on a platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, juice of the remaining lemon and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Grilled Swordfish with Apricot and Fennel

You can pair all types of fruit with the rich sweetness of swordfish. If you can grill over oak or maple wood chips, the spicy-sweet flavor combination works even better.


  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 apricots, halved and pitted
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups fish stock
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 thick swordfish fillets (about 7 oz each)


Trim off the dark parts from the fennel bulbs, leaving only the white part. Reserve ¼ cup of the green fronds. Using a mandoline, slice the bulbs lengthwise into 1/16” strips. Sauté in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the fennel wilts and allow to cool. Add the apricots and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare your grill with a medium hot flame. Place the oil, butter and stock into a saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and reserved fennel fronds and season with salt and pepper.

Season the fish all over with salt and pepper. Grill turning only once, for about four minutes per side. Spoon some of the sauce onto warmed plates and place a fillet into the center. Top with the fennel and apricot mixture.

Grilled Zucchini with Mint and Orange

  • 2 zucchini (about 6 oz. each)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 orange segmented


Prepare a medium fire in your grill. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 3/8” slabs. Coat each with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini for about three minutes per side and transfer to a platter. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, honey and the mint. Stir in the orange segments. Pour the dressing over the zucchini and serve.