From the menu of ... La Grotta

From the menu of . . . La Grotta Ristorante, 2637 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-231-1368,

Q: I enjoyed the dinner at La Grotta and had, perhaps, the best appetizer I've ever tasted. Would love to know how it's made! It was listed as "Granchio con Avocado e Pompelmo." Would very much appreciate it if you could get the recipe. -- Missy Aue, Atlanta

A: La Grotta general manager Christian Favalli provided us with this recipe, a perpetual favorite of his customers. La Grotta co-owner and chef Antonio Abizanda created it many years ago after a visit to the fish markets of Venice. "Boats began to arrive as early as 4 a.m. and continued to come in throughout the day from all over the Mediterranean, Africa, India and even North America. One vendor was combining fresh avocados from Sicily with locally caught crab and a squeeze of lemon," Abizanda said.

Inspired by the combination, he returned home to add a few more ingredients and create this antipasti freddi, or cold appetizer. This simple recipe relies on impeccably fresh ingredients and special care in their handling. You can prepare the crab and citrus segments ahead of time and keep them tightly covered in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. Do not prepare the avocado until ready to serve.

Is there a recipe from a metro Atlanta restaurant you'd like to make at home? Tell us and we'll try to get it. We'll also test it and adapt it for the home kitchen. Because of volume, we can't answer all inquiries. Send your request, your address and phone number to and put "From the menu of” and the name of restaurant in the subject line.

La Grotta’s Granchio con Avocado e Pompelmo (Lump Crabmeat with Grainy Mustard over Avocado, Orange and Grapefruit Segments)

Hands on: 20 minutes Total time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

The method described for cutting up citrus fruits creates what are called “supremes,” all fruit with no pith or membranes. Microgreens are sometimes available at local farmers markets and specialty markets. If you can’t find them, substitute finely sliced fresh basil leaves.

2 lightly packed cups jumbo lump crabmeat (about 8 ounces)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

Salt and pepper

2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Juice of one lime

1 large navel orange

1 large grapefruit

1 large ripe tomato, cut into four slices

1/2 cup of basil microgreens

In a medium bowl, pick through crab, removing any bits of shell. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and mustard. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss avocado cubes with lime juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.

Cut colored peel and white membrane off orange and grapefruit. Over a plate, hold the orange in your hand and use a paring knife to slice next to one of the membranes that holds the segments together. Cut down to the core of the orange. Move your knife to the membrane on the other side of that segment and slice down to the core. Remove the segment and put on the plate. Repeat for the remainder of the orange and then for the grapefruit. You can squeeze the juice left in the orange and grapefruit membranes and core and reserve for another use.

Prepare four serving plates. Arrange a slice of tomato on each plate. Using a ring mold, top each tomato with one quarter of the prepared avocado. Top the avocado with one quarter of the prepared crab. Garnish crab with microgreens and divide orange and grapefruit supremes between the plates. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and serve immediately.

Per serving: 352 calories (percent of calories from fat, 65), 14 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 283 milligrams sodium.