When chef Mario Carbone’s great-grandparents on his father’s side migrated from Sicily, they may have been leaving their homes, but not everything was left behind. As with many Italians, their culinary customs made the trek across the Atlantic. “Most of the migration to the U.S. happened from southern Italians, who had less money and were looking for opportunity and went to America,” Carbone says. “Feast of the Seven Fishes is one of those southern traditions that came with them and got Americanized.”
As a kid growing up in Queens, Carbone gathered with his family at his grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve to enjoy an Italian-American seafood feast. As a chef, Carbone has drawn on his roots to create—along with his partner in the kitchen Rich Torrisi—some of New York’s best restaurants, including The Grill and The Pool, Parm, and Carbone. His cooking has a sense of history—of nostalgia—and demonstrates a willingness to revive Italian-American red-sauce classics long considered uncool.
Yet the Feast of the Seven Fishes isn’t something he serves in his restaurants. He enjoys that epic repast most with friends and family, an abundance of seafood laid out in front of them with great wine to match. Carbone shared what he would ideally serve at the Feast, and Nathan Wooden, the beverage director at Carbone and former sommelier at Per Se, paired the dishes with the Italian and American wines that best complement the spirit and flavors of this tradition.
Styling by Chloe Daley
Food Styling by Susan Ottaviano