For the many Long Islanders who share both an Italian and Catholic heritage, the celebration of Christmas Eve involves a culinary tradition that marks the seven days of biblical Creation — as well as the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. Known as La Vigilia — “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” — it’s a holiday supper that consists of oceanic edibles, all to be consumed before midnight mass. If you’re one of the many who will be looking for bass, shrimp, lobster and other surf-based victuals come December 24, here are some “swimming” suggestions on where to dine.
1. Salt-crusted whole branzino with herbs, fennel, garlic, onions and saffron at Casa Rustica, 175 W. Main St., Smithtown; 631-265-9265, casarustica.net. Also: grilled octopus salad vinaigrette.
2. Grilled sardines with basil and piquillo peppers at Noah's, 136 Front St., Greenport; 631-477-6720, chefnoahs.com. Also: Peconic Bay scallop seviche.
3. Striped bass crudo with pine nuts, mission fig, tangerine-infused olive oil at Rare650, 650 Jericho Tpke., Syosset; 516-496-8000, rare650.com. Also: shellfish plateau and diver sea scallops.
4. St. Peter's fish crusted with pine nuts at Dodici, 12 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre; 516-764-3000, dodicirestaurant.com. Also: whole baked clams and shrimp bruschetta.
5. Lobster fra diavolo at Centro Cucina, 43C Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale; 516-484-3880, centrocucinacafe.com. Also: seafood salad and fried calamari with spicy tomato sauce.
6. Shrimp oreganata at Mamma Lombardi's, 400 Furrows Rd., Holbrook; 631-737-0774, mammalombardis.com. Also: sole Livornese and mussels Posillipo.
7. Salt-cod croquettes at Cafe Buenos Aires, 23 Wall St., Huntington; 631-603-3600, cafebuenosaires.net. Also: fried oysters with fruit chutney and jalapeños.