Buon Appetito!

Kelly Rizzo, intrepid traveler and host of Eat Travel Rock, taps into her heritage to put an Italian spin on a few Mexican classics for elevating your al fresco spread.

By Kelly Rizzo

May 31, 2019 10:00 AM

featured image

While most summer cravings take our tastes South of the Border, my Sicilian roots can’t help but put an Italian spin on my fave Mexican classics for summer’s al fresco spreads. So hold the cilantro and opt for basil, and swap the queso fresco for pecorino to transport your taste buds on a flavor journey abroad with these festive fusion recipes.


2 oz. Tequila

2 oz. Campari

1 oz. Carpano Antica or other sweet vermouth

2 oz. fresh blood orange juice

2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Fresh basil

Shake all ingredients together with ice in a shaker. Strain over a big rock or ice. Garnish with fresh basil and a slice of blood orange.  


Kelly Rizzo’s Caprese Guacamole


4-6 perfectly ripe avocados

½ small onion, finely diced

5-10 grape tomatoes or 1 roma tomato, finely chopped

½ cup fresh mozzarella, chopped

1-2 tbsp of hot giardinera, chopped

Several large basil leaves, chopped chiffonade 

1 large lemon (juice and zest)

Salt and pepper to taste 

Mash avocado flesh in a large mixing bowl with a fork. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Garnish with fresh basil and an extra squeeze of lemon on top to preserve color. Serve with endive spears, veggie chips, or any other desired accoutrement. 


Hearty Italian tacos made with Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, zucchini and pecorino.

HEARTY ITALIAN TACO (makes 6 tacos)

6 flour tortillas

1 package Beyond Meat Vegan Hot Italian Sausage or Hot Italian turkey/chicken sausage

½ onion finely diced

½ cup mushrooms chopped

1 medium zucchini diced

½ cup ricotta cheese

⅓ cup pecorino cheese

1 cup arugula

Fresh basil, chiffonade 

Hot giardinera

Good quality olive oil

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, mushrooms and zucchini for 1 minute. Then add sausage (the vegan sausage can be added directly to pan, turkey or chicken sausage must be removed from its casing.) Mash sausage in the pan and flatten and brown it until it begins to crumble. Mix it in with the veggies and cook together for about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  

Once cooked and all crumbled together, turn off heat. Take tortillas and wrap them in damp paper towels and cook in microwave to steam them (about 50 seconds). Then fill each tortilla with meat mixture and top with arugula, basil, ricotta, pecorino and hot giardinera to taste. Finish with an extra drizzle of good-quality olive oil. 


Kelly Rizzo