Special Report

20 Iconic Italian Seafood Dishes You Should Know

bhofack2 / Getty Images

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.)

Click here to see 20 iconic Italian seafood dishes you should know

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.) 

Linguine alla vongole
> What it is: Spaghetti with clams in their shells, with red or white sauce
> Where to try it: Don Peppe, Queens, New York

[in-text-ad]

Source: Courtesy of Nico Ristorante

Lobster Fra Diavolo
> What it is: (Italian-American) Lobster pieces in spicy tomato sauce, usually served over pasta
> Where to try it: Nico Ristorante, Boston, Massachusetts

Source: Olga Mazyarkina / iStock via Getty Images

Fritto misto mare
> What it is: Mix of deep-fried seafood, typically including shrimp, squid, and sometimes small fish like sardines or red mullet
> Where to try it: Bellini, Coconut Grove, Florida

Source: mirror-images / iStock via Getty Images

Clams oreganata
> What it is: (Italian-American) Clams on the half-shell, topped with herbed breadcrumbs and baked
> Where to try it: Uncle Vinnie’s Clam Bar, Raritan, New Jersey

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Fani Kurti / E+ via Getty Images

Cacciucco alla livornese
> What it is: Tuscan fish seafood stew with fish, squid, mussels, etc. (supposedly five varieties, one for each “c” in its name)
> Where to try it: Fish Market, Alexandria, Virginia

Source: Courtesy of Marie L. via Yelp

Crudo di pesce
> What it is: Raw sliced seafood (tuna, fluke, langoustine, etc.) with condiments
> Where to try it: Marea, New York City, New York

[in-text-ad]

Source: Courtesy of Frank Pepe Pizza Napolitana

White clam pizza
> What it is: (Italian-American) Pizza with minced garlic and fresh shucked clams
> Where to try it: Frank Pepe Pizza Napolitana, New Haven, Connecticut

Source: SvetlanaSF / iStock via Getty Images

Branzino al sale
> What it is: Whole sea bass baked in a crust of salt
> Where to try it: Fiola Mare, Washington, D.C.

Source: Courtesy of Salumeria 104

Spaghetti alla bottarga
> What it is: Dried, salted tuna or gray mullet roe grated over spaghetti
> Where to try it: Salumeria 104, Miami, Florida

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Courtesy of Veneto Trattoria via Yelp

Baccala mantecato
> What it is: Venetian-style dried cod or salt cod mousse, usually with polenta
> Where to try it: Veneto Trattoria, Scottsdale, Arizona

Source: Courtesy of Jenni C. via Yelp

Cioppino (Italian-American)
> What it is: San Francisco seafood stew with Dungeness crab and other seafood in a wine sauce with tomatoes
> Where to try it: Sotto Mare, San Francisco

[in-text-ad]

Source: Gennaro Leonardi / iStock via Getty Images

Seppie or calamari ripiene
> What it is: Cuttlefish or squid stuffed with breadcrumbs and other ingredients
> Where to try it: Macello Cucina di Puglia, Chicago, Illinois

Source: Courtesy of Mountainara Cucina Italiana via Yelp

Acqua pazza
> What it is: “Crazy water” – fish poached in broth with cherry tomatoes
> Where to try it: Montainara, Woodland Park, Colorado

Source: Courtesy of Alessandra M. via Yelp

Pasta con le sarde
> What it is: Sicilian pasta, usually bucatini, with sardines, fennel, pine nuts, raisins, and breadcrumbs
> Where to try it: Pastai, New York City, New York

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Courtesy of Ian M. via Yelp

Risotto nero
> What it is: Black risotto with squid or cuttlefish and their ink
> Where to try it: Sapore di Mare, Miami, Florida

Source: Courtesy of Marc R. via Yelp

Buridda
> What it is: Ligurian seafood stew served with crostini
> Where to try it: Cinque Terre West, Pacific Palisades, California

[in-text-ad]

Source: Henfaes / iStock via Getty Images

Scungilli
> What it is: (Italian-American) Conch, usually served cold in a salad or hot in a spicy tomato sauce
> Where to try it: Pellicci’s, Stamford, Connecticut

Source: enzodebernardo / iStock via Getty Images

Linguine al cartoccio
> What it is: Linguine (sometimes spaghetti) cooked in parchment paper or foil with assorted seafood
> Where to try it: The Olive, Sewell, New Jersey

Source: evgenyb / iStock via Getty Images

Risotto ai gamberi
> What it is: Risotto with shrimp
> Where to try it: La Famiglia Ristorante, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: lovelypeace / iStock via Getty Images

Zuppa di cozze
> What it is: Mussels in a broth of white wine, garlic, and olive oil, served with crostini
> Where to try it: Camille’s, Providence, Rhode Island

ALERT: Take This Retirement Quiz Now  (Sponsored)

Take the quiz below to get matched with a financial advisor today.

Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests.

Here’s how it works:
1. Answer SmartAsset advisor match quiz
2. Review your pre-screened matches at your leisure. Check out the advisors’ profiles.
3. Speak with advisors at no cost to you. Have an introductory call on the phone or introduction in person and choose whom to work with in the future

Take the retirement quiz right here.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.