Holy Mackerel

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a hallowed Italian tradition – and you can celebrate at local restaurants


If you love seafood, La Vigilia is the best possible holiday: a feast, showcasing the bounty of the sea, followed immediately by Christmas. Purists could go on and on about the symbolism of the event – the biblical number, the Catholic abstention from “meat” before a holiday – but in the end, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a delicious maritime meal shared with family during the most sentimental season of the year.

The Italian tradition is well-known in Rhode Island, whether your family hails from Naples or not. And because we’re the Ocean State, many Rhodies are all too willing to celebrate Christmas Eve with lemon-garlic shrimp, mussels with tomato, and fillets of salted cod. Cooking so many dishes may sound daunting, which is one reason several local restaurants host their own versions of the feast.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of restaurants serving La Vigilia meals, and some Seven Fishes mainstays, like Roma and Spirito’s, hadn’t finalized their schedules at press time. But if you’re looking for a venue to celebrate outside your home – or you want to try the seasonal cuisine for the first time – these are some primo places to start.

Camille’s Restaurant
Celebrate the holiday – and more than a century of Camille’s cooking – on December 24.

DeWolf Tavern
During the week before Christmas, you can celebrate the Seven Fishes in this elegant, historic tavern.

The quintessential Federal Hill restaurant hosts La Vigilia dinners December 14-24.

Pane e Vino
One of the most beloved Italian restaurants and caterers in Providence serves the Feast December 14-24.

Providence Oyster Bar
One of the city’s best shellfish venues brings you an oceanic
Feast on December 24.

Trattoria Zooma
Enjoy your Feast in Zooma’s vibrant, modernist setting, December 1-24.

Weekapaug Inn
The Westerly hotel is also the region’s prime destination for the Feast on December 24.