Colorful frutti di mare is a crowd-pleaser for holiday meals

Intro by Pam George  |  Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the Holiday 2018 issue


As the holidays approach, many Italian-Americans along the coast are planning the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Christmas Eve meal. But ask Francesco Agostino, a native of Italy, about the meatless feast and you’ll get a puzzled look. “I’ve never heard of it,” says Agostino, the chef at Azzurro Italian Oven and Bar in Rehoboth Beach, which he owns with wife Tonya.

Perhaps that’s because Agostino comes from Turin in northern Italy, and the feast — also known as La Vigilia (“The Vigil”) — is a southern Italy inspiration. Though unfamiliar with that meal, he is well acquainted with seafood. There are meat dishes on his Azzurro menu, but seafood is the star.

The couple chose Rehoboth Beach for the restaurant’s location because it reminds them of walkable beach towns in Italy. They selected the 19th-century building — best remembered as the former home of Chez la Mer — for its character. “We didn’t want anything modern,” he says.