Feast of the Seven Fishes on Federal Hill
Monday, December 19, 2011
Course 1: Snail and Baccala Salads
I was delighted to discover that Chef Ierfino has grouped his fishes with consideration for course progression. Therefore, the first course featured these less-loved seafoods in ways anyone could adore. The thinly sliced snails combined with hot pepper rings and were dressed in a spicy vinegar sauce. The challenging baccala (salt cod) was a wonderful addition to a cold salad plate, with restrained saltiness and perfect chewy texture.
Course 2: Fried Calamari and Smelts
Both winners. The calamari had a delightful, flour-dusted breading that kept everything light, fresh and tasty. The smelts were my version of a fun, adult fish-stick. Served as full fish, these were perfectly sourced in terms of size and flavor. A zesty red sauce for dipping wasn't even necessary, as both fish were extremely flavorful in their own right.
Course 3: Spaghetti Pescatore
This was practically a La Vigilia in a bowl! Four shellfish (shrimp, mussels, little necks and scallops) crowned a heaping serving of spaghetti with a San Marzano tomato sauce garnished with fresh herbs. It's impressive when a chef can bring four shellfish together on one plate and have all of them perfectly cooked. Note: Trattoria offers this dish in a lighter option utilizing white wine and reduced stock… this might offer good pacing among the red sauces.
Course 4: Pesce Aqua Pazza
We're on fish number nine here, but the whole meal has been remarkably well-balanced, so you'll be ready for this fresh scrod simmered with tomato sauce. The light, flaky fish met the vinegar punch of capers and kalamata olives with the assurance of a generation's old meal. A baby spinach accompanies. The result is a delight.
La Vigilia is offered for $39.95 per person every night 5pm-10pm through Friday, December 23, at Trattoria Roma, 310 Atwells, Providence. For reservations, call 331-5000. Many dishes in the meal are also available to go, which might be a lovely way to make your Christmas Eve both traditional and delicious.
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