WASHINGTON — The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a Southern-Italian Christmas Eve tradition in which no meat is eaten. In true Italian form, what was an evening of no meat morphed into an evening of deliciousness from the ocean.
But you don’t even have to celebrate Christmas to appreciate a seafood feast on Dec. 24. Most of the restaurants offer set menus for one night, though some have extended service before and after the holiday. Traditionally, the feast is served in Italian households on La Vigilia (Christmas Eve) but here are some options around town that may suit you:
Via Umbria — Chef Liam LaCivita created a three-day dinner series at this Umbrian market/restaurant in Georgetown, incorporating seafood from different regions around Italy. Menu items include squid and rock shrimp fritto misto, Pugliese-style stuffed mussels, branzino with salmoriglio sauce, and spaghetti with clams. The menu goes Dec. 21–23 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person.
Fiola — Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s five-course menu is available all afternoon and evening on Christmas Eve. Items include a whelk and calamari salad, baked Maine scallops, gnocchi with Alaskan king crab and a chestnut yule log for dessert. Four courses and a dessert cost $165.
Osteria Morini — On Christmas Eve weekend, Osteria Morini D.C.’s feast includes fresh handmade pastas, butter poached lobster and swordfish grilled on Morini’s iron-wood-fired stove. There are many dishes presenting seven varieties of fish, prepared by executive chef Ben Pflaumer. The Feast of Seven Fishes will be served Dec. 22–24 and is $65 per person.
Masseria — Chef Nicholas Stefanelli will offer this Italian holiday feast on Dec. 24 with a set menu featuring dishes such as linguine al farouk, poached cod, fritto misto and delizia al limone. The dinner is $115 per person (excluding tax, gratuity and drinks). Dinner service will begin at 5 p.m. and the menu will be available all evening.
Centrolina — On Christmas Eve, chef/owner Amy Brandwein provides a four-course family-style Feast of the Seven Fishes menu featuring grilled octopus and bucatini with littleneck clams, romanesco cauliflower and roasted cayenne. Reservations are available for 5-10 p.m. It’s $65 per person; optional wine pairings are an additional $40.
G — The restaurant’s Feast of the Seven Fishes menu returns this year with a bountiful five-course spread from chef de cuisine Elliot Drew and features oysters, seafood brodo and snow crab arrabbiata. It’s $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity; optional Italian wine pairings are an additional $35.
Graffiato — There are several ways to enjoy Feast of the Seven Fishes with dishes available both a la carte and as a tasting menu. The seafood-heavy selection of five dishes includes Mike Isabella’s personal holiday favorite, seashell pasta with shrimp, bay scallops, clams, calamari, tomato and aleppo pepper. It’s $65 per person.
Urbana — Executive chef Ethan McKee is offering the feast from Thursday to Monday. It includes a four-course Christmas dinner of seafood dishes for $65 per person. Accompanying wine pairings will be available for an additional $30.
Al Dente Ristorante — Chef Roberto Donna’s Feast of Seven Fishes features six courses, with dishes such as salted cod with salsa verde, warm octopus salad and half-moon pasta filled with sea scallops. For dessert, enjoy a traditional panettone cake pudding. It’s $55 per person.
Hank’s Pasta Bar — Chef Jamie Leeds is making a country-style version. With seven types of seafood in one plate, guests can indulge in generous amounts of lump crabmeat, catfish, squid, shrimp, mussels, clams and octopus. Rounding out the meal is a healthy dose of house-made linguine, prepared daily. The menu is available throughout the entire month of December for $34 (excluding tax and gratuity).
Del Campo — The restaurant puts a South American twist on the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner with chef/owner Victor Albisu’s Feast of the Seven Beasts surf-and-turf menu. The four-course meal features dishes like bison tartare with smoked oyster dressing, served in an oyster shell. It’s $88 per person.
Nycci Nellis is a WTOP food contributor and founder and editor of the TheListAreYouOnIt.com,
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