Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Seven Fishes

As much as I love Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, as much as I like to savor a well-executed beer dinner, nothing even comes close to my enthusiasm for the Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I have been cooking for and enjoying a big Seven Fishes dinner for years at the home of our good friends the Attanasis in Cranford, NJ, but I really get excited when I see restaurants planning one for their customers.

First out of the gate this year is Chef Ralph Pallarino, whose Stella Blue, Gypsy Saloon and Bella Luna Pizza Kitchen form an cozy culinary nexus in WestConshohocken, PA. His Feast of the Seven Fishes menu will be served at both Stella Blu (101 Ford St., 610-825-7060) AND Gypsy Saloon (128 Ford St., 610-828-8494) every Thursday in December, including New Year's Eve. At just $50 per person (minimum 4 persons, reservations required), Pallarino's menu is a tremendous value, simple and elegant, while celebrating traditional dishes from his family in Chicago:


Carafes of Italian red and white wine for the table

1st Course

Vegetarian Antipasto with Italian Tuna and Baked Oregano Clams

2nd Course

Baccala, Tomato Sauce, Creamy Polenta

3rd Course

Fried Smelts and Oysters

4th Course

Linguini with Mussels and Aioli Sauce

Shrimp Fra Diavolo over Fettucini
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Avalon restaurant in West Chester (312 S. High St., 610-436-4100) has also put forth its Seven Fishes dinner menu today; Chef/owner John Brandt-Lee will be reflecting on his own Italian heritage when he creates this dinner, served family-style, on Christmas Eve at his cozy, utterly romantic restaurant. This is also an amazing value at $45 per person, $15 children under 12 (child-friendly options available). Reservations required.
(served family style)

Fried Smelts, White Anchovies, Preserved Tuna & Fried Calamari


Black Linguini with Shrimp, Mussels & Crab in San Marzano Red Sauce

(choice of)

Skate Wing with Brown Butter Sauce and Crab Apple Mostarda

Tilapia Piccata with Capers, Lemon and White Wine

**Both served with Risotto Style Toasted Orzo

Insalta Digestivo

Organic Mixed Greens with Honey Broken Balsamic Vinaigrette


Fresh Fruit and Cheese served family style
(sweet dessert from regular dessert menu may be substituted)
Another Conshohocken restaurant, Trattoria Totaro (639 Spring Mill Ave.,610-828-7050 http://www.vincetotaros.com/) is also offering a Seven Fishes feast for a few days before Christmas. It can also be prepared for take-out. For $47 per person you'll get this family-style feast:

First Course
Seafood Sampler – A sampling of fried smelts, clams casino, garlic shrimp cocktail and bacala (codfish salad)

Second Course
Fruta di Mar (Cold Seafood Salad) Shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and calamari tossed with celery and onion with a garlic, olive oil, vinegar and
herb dressing, served over greens

Crab and Seafood Bisque

Third Course
A sampling of the following

Pescatore – Sauteed shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and calamari in marinara sauce over pasta. Also available in aiola sauce (garlic, olive oil, white wine sauce)
Flounder Porto – Flounder stuffed with lump crabmeat and spinach in a port wine cream sauce, then baked.
Calalmari Yolanda – Vince’s mothers traditional recipe: calamari tubes stuffed with sauté of vegetables, bread crumbs, herbs, pistachio nuts and raisins in marinara sauce or garlic, olive oil and white wine sauce

Dessert Sampler

Cranberry Bread Pudding
Chocolate Cake

I'll post Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner menus from other restaurants as I hear about them. I think this is going to be a big year for this kind of dinner. Stay tuned!


okbrewer said...

Check this out RP: http://newsok.com/dining-notes-feast-of-the-7-fishes-set/article/3425213

Rich said...

Wow, that is a killer menu, Bob! I'd want to try each and every dish. Can't always say that about EVERY dish at a Seven Fishes dinner....