Taste: Feast of the Seven Fishes

15 places to swim with the fishes — in a good way — this Christmas Eve.

"Are you gonna do the fishes?" one of Joe Palombo’s customers demanded more than 15 years ago. "You gotta do the fishes." So this Italian chef does the fishes. The Sicilian and Abruzzi tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes calls for seven different seafood courses, served family-style — a leisurely Christmas Eve meal culminating in midnight mass. But to satisfy South Philly and South Jersey tradition, Palombo prepares more than 30 fishes — "Because no one can agree on which seven are traditional." In Italy, the most common choices are from the Adriatic and Mediterranean: triglia, sepia, baccala. But the Atlantic Ocean has influenced local celebrations, adding the likes of seasonal smelts (pictured) to the menu. This year, Palombo will fry more than 250 pounds of smelts for just one course of the seven-fish feast at Barone’s Tuscan Grill — or one option on its 30-plus-item Christmas Eve takeout menu, if you want to start your own tradition.

Area restaurants serving Seven Fishes feasts:

New Jersey

Andreotti’s Viennese Café
1442 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, 856-795-0172; andreottis.com

Bácio Italian Cuisine
2806 Route 130 North, Cinnaminson, 856-303-9100; baciorestaurant.com

Barone’s Tuscan Grill
210 Barclay Shopping Center, Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, 856-354-1888; baronerestaurants.com

Luna Rossa Biagio Lamberti
3210 Route 42, Turnersville, 856-728-4505; lambertis.com

Scaturro’s Restaurant and Bar
841 Route 73 South, Marlton, 856-985-4560; scaturros.com

Thommy G’s
20 West Atlantic Avenue, Audubon, 856-672-1222; thommyg.com


Mamma Maria
1637 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-463-6884; mammamaria.info

303 Horsham Road, Horsham, 215-672-5595; mediterraneoristorante.net

1627 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-2066; paradisophilly.com

Piccolo Trattoria
32 West Road, Newtown, 215-860-4247; piccolotrattoria.com

21 West Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore; 610-896-8298

760 South 9th Street, 215-627-6011; ralphsrestaurant.com

2500 South Broad Street, 215-468-3900; scannicchio.com

Trattoria Alberto
116 East Gay Street, West Chester, 610-430-0203; trattorialberto.com

Trattoria Prima Donna
1506 Spruce Street; 215-790-0171