Chef Tony Galzin and Lisa Mays Fire Up the Grills for an Italian Grilled Dinner at Pop Nashville Dinner-My New Obsession, Playing with Fire!

An evening of Italian regional specialties all cooked over an open flame!


Chef Tony Galzin (Sycamore Nashville, Deli House) and I teamed up to fire up the grill at POP Nashville to recreate some our favorite regional Italian dishes for an unforgettable culinary event! I guess it was meant to be. During a conversation with Caroline Galzin, Tony’s wife and manager of POP, wanted to know more about what I was doing with the new Arrosticini grill and thought that teaming up for a dinner was something Chef Tony has been wanting to do for a while. Tony and I are both of Sicilian heritage and we knew we were on to something special! We all got together one Sunday evening and tested out our recipes at my home in my pizza oven (hearth) and my new Abruzzo-style arrosticini grill. The menu was a collaboration of both of our recipes that we love and honor our Sicilian Italian heritage. We just knew it would be a winning combination!

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This Italian Girl Plays with Fire! 

It must be fate! Several months ago, I became intrigued with Abruzzo-style grilling after catching a glimpse of an article on Facebook! I have two grills now, both are imported, professional grills ready to use for my second business, This Italian Girl Grills! (More information about this to follow).

This is my first Arrosticini grill for Abruzzo-style grilling and this is what started it all!  The long and narrow grill is designed to cook skewered meats such as lamb and also cooks the Olive Oil Marinated Shrimp Spiedini to perfection. We put all the grills to work that  night!


We had two seatings 6p & 8:30p and both were sold out! Lots of laughter and talk made its way back to where we were grilling. The wait staff assured us that there were many audible expressions of delight from our guests as they made their way through each course.



Caroline, Tony and I tasted wines with our friends and local distributors of 100 Percent Italiano wines and we selected several of our regional Italian favorites for suggested pairings with each course. Our selections were a big hit with everyone!

2013 Claris Pinot Grigio has the characteristics of a flavorful and complex This Pinot Grigio is similar in the characteristics and flavor profile from the Alto Adige region of Italy while maintaining an affordable price. Wondering about the name? Yes, the winemaker is a huge fan of the movie, Silence of the Lambs!

Suri Rosso Barbera D’Asti   This dry red wine is low in tannin and high in acidity. Barbera is the 3rd most planted grape in Italy. It is a full body wine, fruity, fresh, and rich, with a bright ruby red color, intense scents of cherry and red fruits and a spicy finish.

The regional wine of Abruzzo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo complements the earthy, rich lamb is the that is served with the lamb in Italy.

Arboreto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a great Italian Trattoria wine. This is a medium light to medium bodied inky purple wine, that is generousl with blackberries and a touch of earthiness. The surprising structure matches well with pasta and grilled meats especially lamb. It is deeply colored, naturally sweet tannins, low acidity,fruity softness is drinkable immediately and ages well.

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It’s about time for the first seating. The plates are lined up for quick assembly of the fruits of our labor!    First Course: Burrata, house-made coppa and Peperonata-grilled and marinated peppers.Burrata_8135Chef Matt Clement who has recently joined the POP Nashville team was in charge of making and baking the the house made sourdough foccaccia and rustic italian bread.ChefMatt_8134     Foccacia_2418   Calvorfiore Piccante, is pickled purple and white cauliflower with my homemade chile bread crumbs. We love this recipe at my house and thought it would be great for the dinner!  The colors are vivid and is a refreshing balance with the grilled meat and seafood.Cauliflower_2384 BowlCauliflower_2385Caponata is my traditional family recipe for this Sicilian dish. Since this was a grilled dinner,I decide to grill the eggplant and add grilled zucchini and yellow squash in addition to capers and olives as well as other special ingredients.  This brings out the intense flavors of the vegetables and creates a new dimension of this traditional dish.CaponataIMG_2374

Second Course: Spiedini di Gamberi, perfectly grilled olive oil marinated fresh Gulf shrimp with caramelized lemon. Shell-on shrimp and lots of olive oil ensures that the shrimp remain succulent and juicy.



Shellfish is perfect for the grill and the juicy grilled mussels with smoked sea salt and lemon/olive oil dressing was another great course!


Hearth(oven) roasted whole red fish with an Italian Celery Fennel Caper relish.


The Third Course: Abruzzo-style lamb skewers or Spiedini di Carne which is traditional Arrosticini, is olive and garlic marinated lamb with Herb Hazelnut Pesto


Here it is! Apparently the pesto was also a hit! Although traditional arrosticini is not usually served with a pesto, I thought this would complement the rich, earthy flavors of the grilled lamb—and it did!


Arrosticini on the grill. This is the how it’s done in Abruzzo, Italy.


I love the idea of grilling meatballs! They were mouthwatering, moist, perfectly seasoned and finished with Tony’s spicy tomato sauce.


My father and brother are hunters and I grew up eating quail for Sunday dinners and special occasions. This is definitely a family approved course of smokey grilled quail with lemon, rosemary and herbs !

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When Tony and Caroline came over for dinner to test out our recipes, I grilled peaches and served them with cherry coulis and mascarpone and whipped cream. For the POP dinner, Tony added his amazing olive oil cake which competed this amazing dessert!

Grilled peaches with house-made olive oil cake, cherry coulis and mascarpone whip


Teaming up with Chef Tony for our grilled was an honor and so happy to have had the opportunity to cook at POP Nashville. This  has been one of the highlights of this year.

I was simply and completely in my element.


My new obsession, playing with fire!

Ciao, baby!

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