Grilled Fish at Altitude: Branzino in Montagna

Ever grilled a whole fish? Easier than you think if you have a trusty fishmonger and a hot fire. I’m visiting dear friend Alyce Henness in the Italian Alps. Alyce and her snowboarding superstar husband Luca live in a cozy, Alpine-style home with all the mod cons in the town of La Salle, which is in the region of the Valle d’Aosta. Imagine clean mountain air, soft green grass, a river roaring past and Mont Blanc in the background. One could do worse…
Not eating meat is a rarity in Italy, but actually extremely easy to do with all the readily available fresh produce, pasta and fish. Even here in the mountains, Alyce picked up a beautiful whole branzino for me at the local supermarket.

Branzino is Italian for sea bass, and let me tell you, we are hours from the sea and this guy looks like he blew his last bubbles this morning. The branzino weighed in at a hefty pound an a quarter and thankfully Alyce had the foresight to ask the fishmonger to clean it for us. Like I said, need to have a good fishmonger, because no one wants to scale a fish in the kitchen. I stuffed the fish with sliced lemon, branches of rosemary, and some sliced garlic. Drizzled it with olive oil and some salt and pepper and it was ready to go.

Luca grilled it to perfection on the charcoal grill in their garden – about 6 or 7 minutes per side and voila.

I removed the flesh from the bones and placed the delicate white meat on a clean plate, drizzled it with a little more olive oil, squirt of lemon and some salt and pepper. Cooked perfectly. Delicious – even Alyce and Luca, who were happily eating grilled fillet, agreed. Bravo, Luca!

And to accompany our meal, Alyce prepared yummy baked zucchini boats topped with melted parmiggiano. The recipe was passed along from Alyce’s mom Susan, in Erie, PA. Maybe Alyce could share her timely recipe as we are all overloaded with zucchini at this time of year…and to drink, we had a local, light and refreshing Muller-Thurgau with our meal.

And as if that weren’t enough, hostess extraordinaire Alyce served homemade strawberry ice cream, made with tiny pieces of local fragole. I couldn’t get a picture because my 2 scoops were consumed too fast. Whoops.
Thank you again, Alyce and Luca!

Grilled Branzino


  1. I have never actually made a fish like that.

  2. Gorgeous!!


  1. […] were visited, and I honestly didn’t hit the pots and pans once. I visited friends in the Alps, and then spent the rest of the trip at the Tuscan seaside. We took advantage of Italy’s love […]

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