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Spaghetti alle vongole at Pasquale’s Ristorante. Courtesy photo.




Feast of the Seven Fishes dinners

Campo Enoteca
Where: 969 Elm St., Manchester
When: Wednesday, Dec. 24, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 per person
See: 625-0256, campenoteca.com
Reservations for any size party will be taken starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m. Deadline is Christmas Eve morning.
 
Tuscan Kitchen
Where: 67 Main St., Salem
When: Wed., Dec. 24, from 3 to 9 p.m.
Tickets: $55 per person
See: 952-4875, tuscanbrands.com
Reservations required.
 
Pasquale’s Ristorante
Where: 143 Raymond Road, Candia
See: 483-5005, pasqualeincandia.com
Dinner is sold out, though there is a wait list. Call for updates.

 





Pesci party
Get your fill of fish at a traditional Christmas Eve dinner

12/18/14
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



Forget eight maids-a-milking or six geese-a-laying. Enjoy seven fishes-a-cooking this Christmas Eve for festa dei sette pesci, the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes.

The multi-course dinner celebration has its root in the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from eating meat on certain holy days when a number of fish dishes would cover the table instead. The reason behind the number seven is unknown; some believe it represents the seven sacraments and others the seven days of creation. Regardless of how exactly it came to be, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a Christmas Eve tradition that brings together, family, friends and lots of fish.
Pasquale Celone, chef owner of Pasquale’s Ristorante, has hosted a Feast of the Seven Fishes for the past 14 years as a way to bring his family traditions to his patrons and give them a chance to reflect on their own celebrations.
“It kind of reminds a lot of people. … They had this feast when they were growing up so they are really excited about when we are getting together,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s not just a dinner; we actually sit down at 1 [p.m.] and don’t get out until 6 [p.m.], but people, they really enjoy that.”
Growing up in Campania, Italy, Celone’s family served seven to 10 fish courses for the feast and would sit at the table from 7 to 11:30 p.m. before going to the evening Mass.
Edward Aloise, chef and co-owner of Campo Enoteca and Republic, grew up celebrating the Feast of the Seven Fishes at his grandmother’s house in New York City. This will be the first feast at Campo Enoteca. 
“Campo Enoteca is a real statement of contemporary, Italian food,” Aloise said in a phone interview. “We’re here to showcase Italian food. We’d be negligent not to do it.”
When it comes to what fish dishes to serve, every restaurant (or family) does it differently. 
“If you were celebrating in Longoria in the northwest of Italy the fishes on your table would be different [than] if you were in Sicily,” Aloise said. 
Campo Enoteca’s menu will feature day boat scallop stuffed marinated mushrooms, Maine Hollander mussels, shrimp scampi and swordfish Milanese. 
“The seven fishes is most traditionally from the Campania area where I’m from,” Celone said. “We’ll have fried anchovies, octopus salad, marinated mussels, angel hair pasta with clams, and grilled swordfish.”
One thing that both Celone and Aloise said is a must-have for a Feast of the Seven Fishes is Baccala — salted cod. 
“You will be eating salt cod of some kind,” Aloise said. “That’s one of the staples.”
Whether your family cooks a feast at home or is looking to start a new tradition, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is open to all. “It’s a sign of community, tradition, it’s something that [binds] families together,” Aloise said. “You don’t have to be Catholic or Italian. It’s one of those gather-around-the-campfire things.” 
 
As seen in the December 18, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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