Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Seven Fishes, Restaurant Style

Besides winter beers, Beaujolais Nouveau, menorahs, kinaras and Christmas trees, at this time of year there are some wonderful meals to be had. Many of them are enjoyed at home, of course, but some restaurants go to great lengths to create family style repasts, such as the Christmas Eve ritual of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Here's my annual look at some restaurants that are composing Seven Fishes feasts for every palate and budget.

AVALON restaurant in West Chester, PA has created a rustic Italian menu, served family- style, for the Christmas Eve feast, replete with kid-friendly options for those who need them. It can also be prepared for takeout. This menu, on sheer quantity and creativity, is a steal:

Seven Fishes Feast

(Served family style)


Fried Smelts, White Anchovies, Preserved Tuna & Fried Calamari


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


Fluke Piccata with Capers, Lemon and White Wine, Risotto Style Toasted Orzo

Insalta Digestivo

Organic Mixed Greens with Honey Broken Balsamic Vinaigrette


Fresh Fruit and Cheese served family style (or sweet dessert from regular dessert menu may be substituted). Take out order will be Chocolate Cake that can be baked at home.

This feast, which is designed to be ordered by the entire party, is $45 per person; $15 for children under 12. Child-friendly options will be available. Pricing is the same for eat in and carry out. Reservations/Advanced orders necessary at 610/436-4100. For those who prefer, a limited a la carte menu will be available on Friday, December 24 as well.

Avalon Restaurant
312 South High St
West Chester, PA 19382

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In Conshohocken, PA, TRATTORIA TOTARO has also created a Seven Fishes menu bursting with creativity and earthy, homey flavors, priced at $47 per person. Reservations required. They offer this feast on December 23 and 24, and it is also available for takeout.

Thursday December 23 and Friday December 24, 2010

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:
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 sautĂ© of vegetables, bread crumbs, herbs, pistachio nuts and raisins in marinara sauce or garlic, olive oil and white wine sauce

Dessert Sampler
Cannoli, Biscotti, Pizzelles and Cookies

Trattoria Totaro
639 Spring Mill Ave
Conshohocken, PA 19428
Phone 610-828-7050 /Fax 610-828-7052

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Ambler, PA's TRAX CAFE, housed in the town's historic train station, takes a deft spin on the traditional Seven Fishes feast with a $45 per person menu crafted by Exec Chef Steven Waxman that squeezes at least seven seafoods into just 4 courses (and thankfully not dessert!) Waxman will serve this menu the entire week before Christmas, from Tuesday Dec. 21 through Dec. 24:

Seven Fishes Feast

Crab & Shrimp Mornay

Bouillabaisse with Anchovy Crostini

Flounder Stuffed with Smoked Salmon Mousse with Vin-Blanc

Choice of: Chocolate Mousse with Cognac or Poached Pear with Raspberry Sauce

The restaurant will also serve its regular A la carte menu from December 21 - 24. Reservations are necessary.

The restaurant will be closed on December 25. A gala New Year's Eve dinner is planned for Friday, December 31.

Trax Café & Restaurant
27 West Butler Pike
Ambler PA 19002

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Closer to my neck of the woods, RISTORANTE BATTIBECCO, a warm and homey Italian in Ewing, NJ is serving a very traditional family style Seven Fishes dinner that your table can design from a huge menu of possibilities. That makes the menu pricing flexible, ranging from $30-45 per person, less for kids under 12 (kids menu available too, if yours aren't ready for fried smelts). The menu here ranges from shrimp fra diavolo, bacala salad and calamari fritti with hot peppers and olives, to the aforementioned smelts, grilled langoustines, mussels, escarole and chick peas, clams casino and swordfish piccata. The meal is served from 1-8 PM on Christmas Eve. Reservations needed

Ristorante Battibecco

71 West Upper Ferry Rd

Ewing NJ 08628


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