La Festa dei Sette Pesci: the Feast of Seven Fishes, a southern Italian tradition

La Festa dei Sette Pesci is a tradition originating from Southern Italy that’s celebrated on Christmas Eve in observance of the birth of Baby Jesus through a feast of seven fishes. The fish-centered meal comes from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence. Fish counts have been known to go up to nine different varieties.

Chef Ian Gresik of Drago Centro in downtown Los Angeles has this to say, “The feast of seven fishes means experiencing a long standing Italian tradition, like stepping into the past when holidays meant good food, and family.” To celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, restaurants in L.A. have created their own fish centered menus for one night only on Christmas Eve, December 24.

Marino Ristorante

Marino Ristorante‘s menu is $60 for a family style, four course meal. 6001 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038. 323-466-8812.

Chef Sal Marino‘s thoughts on the holiday and the meal he is preparing:

“The Feast of the 7 fishes is deeply rooted in tradition. I like to start with the most traditional Neapolitan appetizer (traditional and popular because it was inexpensive, everyone can afford it, easy to make and almost indispensable), the Insalata di Rinforzo which translates to ‘salad that reinvigorates’ or ‘gives you strength’. The strength in question is that to continue eating!

In anticipation of so much food, a vegetable with vinegar and slightly pickled like qualities is best to open up the appetite and get you ready to feast and eat plenty, because you’ll need all the help you can get to do the 7 fishes, the dried fruits, the dessert, etc etc.

The salad consists of steamed cauliflower, olives, pickled cherry peppers (some like them spicy, some not, some both) and anchovies. Also, the Spaghetti alle Vongole is very common… and how can we have a meal without pasta?”


Grande Antipasto (for the table)
Vongole Arreganate (Breaded Baked Clams, Lemon Garlic Sauce)
Calamari Ripieni (Mozzarella, Smoked Mozzarella and Herb Stuffed Calamari)
Insalata di Rinforzo (Traditional Pickled Cauliflower Salad)
Polpette di Baccala’ (Cod Cakes)
Baccala’ Mantecato (Cod Crostini Venetian style)
Baccala’ all’Insalata (Cod Salad, Gaeta and Cerignola Olives, Parsley Leaf Salad)

Pasta (choice of one per person)
Spaghetti alle Vongole (Traditional Spaghetti & Baby Clams, White Sauce)
Paccheri Baccala’ e Pomodorini (Artisanal Pasta, Cod, Tomatoes, White Wine)
Maccheroncini all’Aragosta (Home Made Pasta, Maine Lobster, Tomato Sauce) ($10 supplement)
Secondi (choice of one per person)
Duetto di Baccala’ Fritto e Alla Livornese (Salt Cod Duet: Fried and Tomatoes and Caramelized Onion Sauce)
Branzino all’Acqua Pazza (Poached Mediterranean Branzino, served with Spinach)
Cernia alla Griglia (Grilled Grouper, Lemon-Caper-Butter Sauce)

Dolce (for the table to share)
Souffle di Panettone
Ricotta Cheesecake
Roasted Chestnuts

Drago Centro

Drago Centro has a 7 course dinner for $70 (+$40 for wine pairings) from 5 PM – 9 PM. 525 South Flower St. Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071. 213-228-8998.


Blue Point Oyster – red currant pearls
1st course
Crab Salad – Wild Baby Fennel, Pomegranate Seeds
2nd course
Crispy Salt Cod – Persimmon Puree, Nasturtium Leaves
4th course
Maine Lobster Cappuccino
5th course
Black and White Spaghetti, Mussels, Clams
6th course
Seared Diver Scallop, Saffron Risotto, Horseradish
7th course
Pistachio Semifreddo – Roasted Pears, White Chocolate Cream


Ombra‘s menu is $95 for a full 5 course menu ($110 with wine pairings). 3737 Cahuenga Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604. 818-985-7337.


Antipasti (choose one)
Fried Jumbo White Shrimp di Nonna Marie
Tiella di Cipolla (Baked Onion Pizza)
Caponata di Pesce (Cold Seafood Salad)

Paste (choose any two)
Linguine crostacei with Maine lobster and Crab
Orrecchiete with rapini (aka Christmas Broccoli)
Risotto with black mussels
Pennoni with baccala ragu
Cannelloni with ricotta and spinach

Secondo (choose one, served with roast baby potatoes and winter vegetables)
Rosa di Parma (Roast beef tenderloin)
Baked Maine lobster tail
Swordfish “alla Bagnara” (lemon garlic broth)

Dolci (choose one)
Panettone bread pudding, caramel sauce
Chocolate cake “della vigila”
Cannoli Siciliani e strufoli