The Feast of the Seven Fishes at Vincent’s Clam Bar...

The Feast of the Seven Fishes at Vincent’s Clam Bar in Carle Place. Credit: Doherty Enterprises

For anyone planning a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner at home this year, here's one word of caution: Donna. Fans of the breakout FX series “The Bear” know the chain-smoking, wine-gulping  matriarch of the Italian American Berzatto family who, in episode six of the show’s second season, “Fishes,” proceeds to decimate her kitchen, along with whatever remains of her relationship to various family members, over the course of one hair-raising Christmas Eve of cooking. Tomato sauce ends up on the ceiling and artichokes on the floor, spoons are thrown, lobster guts fly, and every important but forgotten step — stirring the gravy, defrosting the cake, putting the bread in the oven when the branzino comes out — becomes an occasion for shrieking and recrimination and furious, mascara-stained tears.

To the extent that Donna (indelibly played by Jamie Lee Curtis) and her antics have persuaded some Island viewers to seek assistance with their own Feast efforts, and others to abandon the project entirely, the episode has unwittingly served up an early Christmas gift to Long Island markets and restaurants that stand ready to save you from Feast fiascos.

“I’m trying to think of a quote from ‘The Bear,’” said Frank Palermo, of Claws Seafood Market in West Sayville, which takes Feast-ing so seriously it's dubbed the season Fishmas (631-256-5900, He's keenly aware of the dangers posed by such dinners and determined to prevent you from facing them alone. At press time, Claws was still offering early bird pricing on Feast of Seven Fishes trays consisting of lobster tails, scallops, shrimp, mussels, calamari, crab legs and clams, all ready to bake or grill ($200 full tray, $100 for half). “

Some farm out the entire endeavor, heading to Vincent’s Clam Bar in Carle Place (516-742-4577,, a sort of one-stop shop for Seven Fishes lovers. All this month, you can enjoy a jam-packed plate of linguine ($31.95) whose roll call includes shrimp, clams, scungilli, mussels, squid, scallops and a nice portion of lightly-battered snapper, all while humming along to Vincent’s seasonal soundtrack, an appropriately harum-scarum collection of tunes ranging from “Jingle Bells” to “That’s Amore.”

For some, Vincent’s and its Feast workaround will be a godsend. For others it will be sacrilege, namely those for whom Seven Fishes “means you have to make seven entirely different dishes, seven entirely different ways,” as another “Bear” character puts it.

Donna’s kitchen nightmare is “definitely relatable,” said Paul Leader, a fan of the show and executive chef at Spuntino (in Garden City (516-228-5400, “You’ve got your family in the background fighting, and you just want to sip on that wine and stay focused and not forget the branzino in the oven.”

For most of the last eight years, Leader has lived Donna’s nightmare for much of the month of December, as chief executor of the restaurant’s annual seven-course Seven Fishes tasting menu. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It is a lot preparing the seven dishes, but all it really takes is good time management,” he said. “And our kitchen is prepped, we have a good structure in place to prevent hiccups. And I love what I do.”

Spuntino’s seven-dish supper, available daily through Dec. 24 ($90, $130 with curated wine pairings), is a mix of new offerings and past fan favorites, starting with one of the latter, smoked salmon and mascarpone on bruschetta, a bite-sized take on bagels and lox. That’s followed by plates of cod fritters, poached lobster tail with butternut squash risotto (new this year), octopus ceviche with capers and cucumber, grilled shrimp in housemade scampi butter, squid ink pasta topped by clams and mussels, and eggplant caponata over a swordfish filet.

It’s a lot, all right, but Leader accomplishes the whole thing seamlessly, thus begging the question of how home cooks can ensure a Seven Fishes kitchen that’s all Spuntino and no Donna.

“For one thing, she should have had a sous chef in there to help her!” laughed Leader. “And a lot of dishes can be prepared ahead of time — like our octopus — so you don’t overwhelm yourself.” As for the last-minute ones, “at least seafood is something you can prepare in a timely manner. Branzino takes just five to seven minutes to hit temperature.” (not including time spent forgetting to take it out of the oven, of course).

More markets offering the Seven Fishes

Other Island seafood markets keen to ward off Seven Fishes catastrophe include: 

Captree Clam: 440 Falmouth Rd., West Babylon, 631-422-0517,

John’s Farms: 601 Old Country Rd., Plainview, 516-933-1447,

Bayville Seafood: 18 Ludlam Ave., Bayville, 516-628-0328

J & M Seafood: 248B Larkfield Rd., East Northport, 631-306-4222,

Haskell’s Seafood Market: 77 Main St., Westhampton, 631-288-7287,

Blue Water Fish & Seafood Market: 2 Sound Rd., Wading River, 631-886-2715,

Land & Sea Fish Market: 524 NY-25A, Mt. Sinai, 631-473-0011,

Southold Fish Market: 64755 NY-25, Southold, 631-765-3200,

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