Though the Feast of the Seven Fishes originated in Southern Italy, Italian-American families also celebrate the age-old Christmas Eve tradition with multi-course, family-style seafood dinners.
The tradition translates to indulging in a massive meal of seafood before Midnight Mass. The origins of the feast are in the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Christmas Eve. Now more Italian restaurants stateside are diving into the fishy feast, putting their own spins on its classic components.
Here’s where to feast on the Feast of the Seven Fishes in D.C. on Christmas Eve, and in some cases, a few nights leading up to it.
301 Water St. SE
On Dec. 24 from 5 to 10 p.m., the Navy Yards seafood bar will serve a three-course holiday meal with Dungeness crab salad to pan roasted turbot and goat’s milk panna cotta.
808 V St. NW
The Shaw stop will host a Feast of Seven Fishes dinner on Dec. 23 at $85 per person ($115 with beverage pairing). The intimate seven-course seafood dinner will only seat 12. In Hazel fashion, the menu will feature influences from Korea, Japan and South America (think tai snapper and crab fried rice, king crab, kimchi, and foie gras).
1734 N St. NW
Go for the Feast of Seven Fishes tasting menu option (in addition to the current tasting menu) from Dec. 19 to 22. Find the Feast of Seven Fishes tasting menu only from Dec. 23 and 24 in the dining room, at $120 per person. It includes dishes like Maine Lobster crespelle and Tuscan fish stew.
974 Palmer Alley NW
This Christmas Eve, chef/owner Amy Brandwein offers a four-course family-style menu at her Italian market and restaurant, featuring grilled octopus and bucatini with littleneck clams, romanesco cauliflower, and roasted cayenne. Reservations available Dec. 24 from 5 to 10 p.m. at $65 per person, with optional wine pairings for $40.
818 Connecticut Ave. NW
On Christmas Eve, guests will enjoy the Feast of the Seven Fishes and a new take on the tradition, Feast of the Seven Vegetables. Dishes on the Fishes menu include a “Sweet Jesus” oyster stew; saffron and squid tagliatelle with scallops; and dry aged angus beef strip loin with Maine lobster. The Vegetable menu features yukon gold potato gnocchi with parsnip-celery root cream and cashew cheese and creamy orzo risotto with heirloom carrots and preserved ginger butter. Three courses are $65 and five are $78.
2201 14th St. NW
G’s menu returns this year with a bountiful five-course spread from chef de cuisine Elliot Drew featuring oysters, seafood brodo, and snow crab arrabbiata. Reservations available $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, and the feast is served Dec. 16 to 24.
707 6th St. NW
Mike Isabella offers several ways to enjoy its Feast of the Seven Fishes with dishes available both a la carte and as a tasting menu. The seafood-heavy selection of five dishes includes Isabella's personal holiday favorite, seashell pasta with shrimp, bay scallops, clams, calamari, tomato, and aleppo pepper. Reservations available Dec. 19 to 24 a la carte menu available, as is $69 tasting menu.
301 Water Street SE #109
Chef di Cucina Ben Pflaumer is putting his own stamp on this time-honored custom with crudo Di tonno, yellowfin tuna, stracciatella, franciacorta and hackleback caviar, tortelacci (local crab ravioli), a wood-grilled swordfish and a whole roasted lobster, all to be finished with pistachio caramelatta for dessert. The menu can be viewed here and will be available on Christmas Eve for $65 a person.
777 I St. NW
Del Campo puts a South American twist on the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner with chef/owner Victor Albisu's Feast of the Seven Beasts surf & turf menu. The four-course meal features dishes like bison tartare with smoked oyster dressing served in an oyster shell. Reservations available Dec. 22 to 24 at $78 per person.
1340 4th Street NE
For the Michelin-rated restaurant’s Second Annual Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner, the Italian holiday feast includes linguine al farouk, poached cod, and fritto misto. Guests will go home with house-made panettone, a traditional Milanese sweet loaf enjoyed on Christmas. The dinner is $95 per person excluding tax, gratuity, and alcohol; five wine pairings can be added for an additional $72. Dinner service begins at 5:30pm and the menu will be available all evening.
601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Four courses and dessert for $150 includes ahi tuna crudo puttanesca, baked Maine scallops and winter black truffle, and lobster, foie gras, and barolo. An a la carte menu with more pasta, sea, and land options are also available at the high-end Italian restaurant.
RPM Italian DC
650 K St. NW
From Dec. 24 from 4 p.m. to midnight, RPM’s festive menu includes an array of cicchetti and luxurious fare—think butter-poached lobster with cavatelli and black truffle —before coming to a sweet ending. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is $95 per person or $175 per person with wine pairings (plus tax; gratuity not included). In addition to this festive offering, the RPM Italian dinner menu will also be available throughout the evening.
Hank’s Pasta Bar
600 Montgomery Street, Alexandria, Va.
Jamie Leeds’ Italian restaurant will offer its menu from the 19-24. The $45 per person, family-style meal has seafood stew, scallop linguine, grilled whole squid, and more, plus shareable sides.
1914 9th St. NW
Feast of the Seven Fishes kicks off here Dec. 15 and runs through Christmas Eve. The restaurant will serve courses like Venetian seafood stew and grilled whole fish. It’s $49 for a whopping 15 courses.
1100 New York Ave. NW
This Christmas Eve tasting menu is $65 per person, with options like risotto and squid ink gnocchi.
1401 T St. NW
Scallops crudo, grilled baby octopus, and fried anchovies will all be courses when this restaurant celebrates on Christmas Eve. Their meal is $70 per person.