December 12, 2022
Each Christmas Eve, Philadelphians of all ages gather around family dinner tables or crowd into tiny side street restaurants to commemorate the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
The massive, multi-course meal is largely celebrated by Italian-American families, and the tradition itself is based on the Roman Catholic practice of not eating meat on Christmas Eve. Though it's unclear where it originated, the first known mention of the holiday feast was included in a 1983 issue of the Inquirer, leading some to believe that the tradition was born in the city before moving to other parts of the country.
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The traditional meal includes some combination of baccala, clams, smelts, scungilli, mussels, calamari, anchovies, shrimp and lobster, though most menus tend to mix and match items or put their own spin on the sit-down feast. The meal is typically accompanied by pasta, wine and baked goods.
For those looking for a place to sit and feast this Christmas Eve, check out this list of Philadelphia restaurants hosting their own Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Chef Jose Garces' Old City oyster bar and cocktail lounge is serving up its own twist on the Christmas Eve feast. During seatings at 5 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 24, guests can enjoy oysters and champagne, shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare, scallops, lobster ravioli, mussels, whole grilled branzino and tiramisu. Guests can book their reservation today for $95 per person plus tax, gratuity and beverages.
Location: 125 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106
Aldo Lamberti's Feast of the Seven Fishes takes place on Saturday, Dec. 24 with seatings from 4 to 9 p.m. For $85 per person, guests can enjoy tuna crudo, octopus, mussels, shrimp, baccala, crab, mixed nuts and clementines, as well as a variety of Christmas desserts. Reservations are open now.
Location: 212 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106
On Friday, Dec. 23, Chef Matt Arcomone will showcase his family's culinary tradition and share his own childhood memories with Osteria's Feast of the Seven Fishes. The four-course, family style menu includes house-made focaccia, antipasti with stuffed clams and shrimp, monkfish piccata and limoncello tiramisu. Reservations are available now at $85 per person, plus optional wine pairings for $50 per person.
Location: 640 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130
For those that are in it for the pasta, head over to Cry Baby Pasta in South Philly on Christmas Eve for a four-course meal with seatings at 5 and 7 p.m. The menu includes lobster arancini, fried calamari, clams, shrimp tortellini, grilled octopus salad, crab tagliatelle and desserts. Reservations are $70 per person.
Location: 627 S. Third St., Philadelphia, PA 19147
The Fishtown Pickle Project is bringing back its quirky spin on the age-old Feast of the Seven Fishes on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at Mural City Cellars. Feast of the Seven Pickles showcases seven courses of Italian-themed dishes prominently featuring the brined vegetable. For this year's "gabagool edition," the menu includes charcuterie, caprese, arancini, pasta, seafood and desserts in collaboration with Paffuto Philly.
Location: 2146 E. Susquehanna Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125
Another less traditional feast can be found at SliCE, which operates two pizzerias in the Italian Market and Washington Township. This year, SliCE is bringing back its Pizza of the Seven Fishes, available for take-out and delivery from now through Christmas Eve. The pizza features mozzarella topped with clams, mussels, shrimp, tuna, crab meat and sardines, all sautéed with olive oil and garlic and then topped with anchovies, lemon and basil.
Location: Italian Market and citywide delivery, take-out only
Kevin Yanaga, otherwise known as the Sushi Whisperer, is hosting a Feast of the Seven Fishes at Izakaya by Yanaga. Seatings are available on Thursday, Dec. 22 and Friday, Dec. 23 between 5 and 9 p.m. Though visitors can order Yanaga's regular offerings, for $75 per person, guests can indulge in a seven-course meal including complimentary sake, oysters, tuna rice crisps, saba nanban, shrimp, maki, sashimi and a selection of desserts.
Location: 1832 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125