Food

Where to Celebrate the Best Italian Christmas Eve Tradition: Feast of the Seven Fishes

Restaurants serving a bounty of Italian seafood for Christmas Eve and beyond.

Crab is on the menu for RPM Italian's feast. Photograph by Anthony Colucci, courtesy of RPM Italian.

Started as a Southern Italian tradition, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a traditional Christmas Eve meal rekindled by Italian-American families. Restaurants around DC have crafted their own renditions, celebrating coastal cuisine with special menus on (and around) Monday, December 24th.

Al Dente
3201 New Mexico Ave., NW
James Beard award-winning chef Roberto Donna hails from Northern Italy, but embraces southern style in dishes like salt cod fritters with salsa verde, scallop-stuffed pasta in saffron sauce, and braised monkfish (check out the menu). Compared to many other prix-fixes it’s a moderate $55, with wine pairings available for an additional $35 per person. Details: Available for dinner from Monday, December 10 through Monday, December 24.

Centrolina
974 Palmer Alley., NW
 Try chef Amy Brandwein‘s take on “Italian ramen” with shrimp, squid ink, and calamari at her CityCenterDC market/restaurant. A four-course feast is served family-style for additional holiday nostalgia. Details: Monday, December 24; $75 per person.

Dino’s Grotto
1914 9th St., NW
Each year, chef/owner Dean Gold selects a unique theme for his fish feast. This time centers around dishes the staff has enjoyed in Italy. The culinary memories include dishes like whole fish, or zuppa di mare brimming with octopus, shrimp, calamari, scallop, and clams. Details: Starting at $49 from Friday, December 14 to Sunday, December 23; $59 on Christmas Eve.

Fiola and Fiola Mare
601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 3050 K St., NW
Chef Fabio and Maria Trabocchi are going above and beyond with two seafood-centric Christmas Eve options—one at Fiola, their elegant flagship, and other at their Georgetown waterfront restaurant that specializes in coastal fare. The former offers a five-course tasting menu ($165 per person), plus a la carte options. The latter serves a five-course tasting menu, or four-course holiday menu with more options per category (both $150). Details: Monday, December 24. Prices and options vary by location.

Oysters and caviar at Fiola. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Hank’s Oyster Bar
1624 Q St., NW; 633 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 1026 King St., Alexandria; 701 Wharf St., SW
For a more budget-friendly and playful “feast,” head to one of four Hank’s locations for a feast of seven oysters. Oyster dressings draw from global flavors (not just Italy), like Japanese-style seaweed-sesame salad or South American chimichurri. Details: Saturday, December 1 to Monday, December 31; $25 per plate.

Hank’s Pasta Bar
600 Montgomery St., Alexandria
Hit all seven fish in one bowl at Hank’s Old Town pasta bar. House-made linguine is topped with seven types of seafood and a tangy tomato sauce for the holiday meal. Details: Saturday, December 1 to Monday, December 31; $34 per plate.

I’m Eddie Cano
5014 Connecticut Ave., NW
This Upper Northwest newcomer celebrates red sauce-style with a ticketed feast. Share five fishes between family-style appetizers, plus your choice of primo and second0 courses. Details: Monday, December 24 with seatings at 5 PM and 7:30 PM. $58 per person.

Iron Gate
1734 N St., NW
The romantic restaurant nestled in an old carriageway is serving a special three-course, Mediterranean menu, with plenty of options in each section—whether you’re in the mood for grilled oysters with goat’s milk butter and calabrian chili, or whole feta-roasted snapper. Chef Anthony Chittum‘s holiday lineup ends with ricotta fritters and festive eggnog anglaise. Details: Monday, December 17 to Sunday, December 23; $75 per person.

Lupo Verde Osteria
4814 Macarthur Blvd., NW
The newest addition to restaurateur Med Lahlou’s trio of Lupo restaurants is serving seven seafaring courses, including octopus carpaccio, clam linguine, and grilled sardines. The meal ends with a bottle of prosecco and sweet panettone to dip in hot chocolate. Details: Monday, December 24 from 5 PM to midnight; $90 per person.

Masseria
1340 4th St., NE
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Michelin starred Italian tasting room near Union Market is all about urban elegance. The regular prix-fixe menus include special seafood options like black spaghetti with Catalina sea urchin or European eel with onion, red wine vinegar, and pane fritto. Details: Monday, December 24 starting at 5 PM; $115 per person.

Lobster ravioli at San Lorenzo. Photograph courtesy of San Lorenzo.
Lobster ravioli at San Lorenzo. Photograph courtesy of San Lorenzo.

Officina
1120 Maine Ave., SW
Waterfront views at the Wharf make a fitting backdrop for a four-course seafood feast at Stefanelli’s newest venture. Channel the Italian Riviera with dishes like octopus salad or spaghetti frutti di mareDetails: Monday, December 24 starting at 5 PM; $85 per person.

Osteria Morini
301 Water St., SE
The Navy Yard trattoria draws from the northern Emilia-Romagna region of Italy (a.k.a. the “Italian Breadbasket”). The spirit of abundance is alive in the holiday menu, which includes your pick of three or four courses—and plenty of homemade pastas. Details: Monday, December 24; three courses ($65 per person),  four courses ($85 per person).

RPM Italian
650 K St., NW
Start the meal with seafood cicchetti (Italian small snacks) before moving on to the whale-size portions such as whole roasted sole and Maine lobster. Toast the holidays with a vino pairing for an additional $65 per person. Details: Monday, December 24 from 3 PM to 10 PM; $95 per person.

San Lorenzo
1316 9th St., NW
Chef Massimo Fabri’s Tuscan spot in Shaw serves four courses of seafood, featuring tuna carpaccio, lobster ravioli, and scallops with prosciutto. Finish the feast with a traditional Italian holiday cake made with dark chocolate, nuts, and whipped mascarpone. Details: Sunday, December 23 to Monday, December 24; $65 per person.

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Daniella Byck

Daniella joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a University of Wisconsin-Madison grad and lives in Logan Circle.