With an abundance of coastline and seaside settlements, Italy boasts a rich tradition of seafood dishes. Depending on the coastal region, various local specialties may include sardines, anchovies, tuna, shrimp, saltwater crayfish (scampi), squid or cuttlefish, and mussels or clams.
Whole baked fish including branzino (European seabass) are popular in coastal areas, as is salt cod, especially in Northern Italy. Even in landlocked Umbria, Lake Trasimeno provides a bounty of fresh perch, pike, carp, and eel, which are often cooked in a hearty fashion, mimicking pork or game dishes.
To compile a list of 20 iconic Italian seafood dishes you should know, all of them available in one version or another in the United States, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous books and websites dedicated to Italian cuisine. We chose restaurants where these dishes are available by consulting Yelp, Gayot, Eater, Time Out, and other sites that list and rate Italian restaurants. Note that the images that follow don’t necessarily represent the dish as served at the recommended restaurant. (These are the top old-school Italian restaurants in America.)
While a few dishes, like linguine with clams, are pasta-based, others feature seafood baked with breadcrumbs, stirred into risotto, or deep-fried. Hearty soups and stews, pizza, and polenta are also popular Italian vehicles for marine delicacies. Several of these dishes are Italian-American rather than purely Italian, and are labeled as such. (See the best restaurant for pasta in every state.)
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