For years, I’ve been hearing about an incredible dinner my friend’s brother-in-law makes the family.
It’s weeks in the making, from gathering recipes to shopping to days of preparation. It’s years of these stories detailing his Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner that has elevated it to the stuff of legend.
These tales of over-the-top seafood dishes and presentations for the lucky chosen few occupy my mind this time of year, and even as I write these words.
If you have never heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes (Festa dei Sette Pesci), it’s an Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration steeped in history. Thought to have been introduced in the United States in the late 1800s by southern Italian immigrants in New York City’s Little Italy, it’s a incredible feast inspired by the flavors of the sea.
The traditional meal consists of seven seafood courses, or a few varieties of fish prepared in different ways, with recipes inspired by the flavors of Italian cuisine.
Baccala (salted cod fish) is one of the most popular dishes to incorporate in an authentic Feast of the Seven Fishes dining extravaganza.
I may still be waiting for an invitation to an authentic Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner, but for now, here are my seven seafood dishes from local restaurants that I would incorporate into my Feast of the Seven Fishes line-up.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
4432 Walnut St., Beavercreek
(937) 320-9548 or www.flemingssteakhouse.com
My Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner would start out with a nice-sized bowl of the lobster bisque from Fleming’s. The spiced sherry cream the pieces of North Atlantic lobster have simmered in is rich, delectable and a perfect start to a showy Christmas Eve Celebration like the one I’m dreaming up.
The Paragon Supper Club
797 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Centerville
(937) 433-1234 or www.theparagonsupperclub.com
The Paragon’s appetizer platter for two ($23) features the smoked peppered salmon they are known for, alongside cold crab, smoked trout and shrimp. It’s a great second-course appetizer with lots of flavors in this dreamy dinner scenario.
2414 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood
(937) 293-6973 or www.theoakwoodclub.com
For my third course I would go with Oakwood Club’s fresh oysters on the half shell ($13.95), but if you want them cooked and dressed up they have a very nice Oysters Rockefeller ($12.95) to consider.
613 E. Fifth St., Dayton
(937) 719-0999 or www.afinerdiner.com
Corner Kitchen’s Mussels and Fries ($15) never disappoint. The broth and preparations change seasonally. Currently Corner Kitchen is preparing their mussels in a Thai red curry broth with green onion, basil, cilantro, grilled mango, pineapple and grape tomatoes. It’s a zippy, flavorful dish that would make an excellent course in any Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner.
Jay’s Seafood Restaurant
225 E. Sixth St., Dayton
(937) 222-2892 or www.jays.com
Jay’s Linguine al Frutti di Mal is tossed with shrimp, scallops, mussels and chopped clams in a white wine garlic butter sauce topped with Parmesan cheese ($32). It’s a filling celebration of the bounty of the sea and with an Italian name like that, it’s perfect for this celebration.
2450 Dayton-Xenia Road, Beavercreek
(937) 426-4600 or www.thewellingtongrille.net
Wellington Grille has a pan-seared red snapper served over orzo pasta tossed in sautéed shaved brussels sprouts and fresh tomatoes with a lemon butter sauce ($23). Because in addition to not being able to get enough seafood at this meal, you also can’t get enough butter.
524 E. Fifth St., Dayton
(937) 222-3100 or roostitalian.com
Going into the seventh course you may not feel like you have it in you, but Roost’s mushroom crusted scallops ($37) with shaved asparagus, ricotta raviolis, crimini mushrooms and a white truffle besciamella sauce will have you rethinking saying no. This is a terrific dish that is worth seeking out.