I grew up in Rhode Island, and this is a state where the Italian food is excellent, and there are plenty of Italians there to do it right. So, it made sense I wanted to find myself in Italy someday eating some of the “original stuff,” definitely not meatballs or ravioli.
Rome’s nearest port town of Civitavecchia was my first, on-the-ground, Italian restaurant town, the first place I could order authentic Antipasto di Pesce, my Italy-raised friend recommended. I love seafood, not overcooked, never fried, but fresh tasting, slightly savory, springy to the quick chew, chilled and tangy. I chose a covered, uncrowded sidewalk café not far from the beach.
Once seated, my waiter quickly brought fresh, warm, crusty, coarse-textured Italian bread. Perfect!
My glass of Barbera arrived soon afterward, tart, quenching and well-aged.
My waiter smiled when I ordered my Antipasto di Pesce. We both knew it would be excellent!
If my seafood would be as satisfying as my wine and fresh bread, I was in for a treat. Many minutes passed. I could wait.
My Antipasto arrived. It was beautiful — everything I hoped for. As I poked around, I came across shrimp, scampi, mussels, small clams, razor clams, calamari and lobster! It was a jackpot of my seafood favorites. I made it last a long time, occasionally dipping my bread into the delicious juices which collected on my plate.
It. The wine. The bread! I was in a mood for nothing more. As is so often true, all the other times I ordered Antipasto di Pesce, it was never quite as good as my first that day in Civitavecchia.
As time went by after my trip, I kept looking for recipes to approximate my happy, tasty experience. After some time I arrived at the conclusion Mario Batali’s “Seafood Appetizer In The Style Of Venezia: Misto di Mare alla Veneziana” came closest. One of the reasons, I believe, is the time it takes for each seafood to be quickly poached an exact perfect length of time, plunged into a stop-cooking ice bath, separately and lightly dressed and then chilled individually.
When it comes time to serve all these perfectly-prepared shellfish, they are delicately combined on a plate bringing together their own marination of the olive oil, lemon juice, pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Once sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley, this labor-intensive dish is WELL WORTH ALL THE EFFORT!
Here’s is Mario Batali’s exact recipe for his “Seafood Appetizer in The Style of Venezia: Misto di Mare alla Veneziana” with individual cooking times and helpful notes