25 Italian Seafood Recipes to Transport You to Italy

Grilled Shrimp with Oregano and Lemon. Photo © John Kernick
Photo: © John Kernick

Italy boasts nearly 5,000 miles of beautiful coastline, a fact certainly reflected in the bright, fresh flavors of its Mediterranean cuisine. For this recipe collection, we've gathered our best Italian seafood dishes to take your palate to the water's edge, from garlicky shrimp with polenta to summery crab carbonara and creamy, indulgent lobster risotto. Choose your favorite, feel the sea breeze, and get cooking. Buon appetito!

01 of 25

Ligurian Seafood Stew

Ligurian Seafood Stew
© Tina Rupp

After blanching peas, snap peas, and fingerling potatoes, chef Andrew Carmellini adds them to a homemade mussel broth along with sea bass, clams, an herb pesto, and little seafood meatballs made with shrimp, chorizo, and scallops. Here, we've narrowed the ingredient list to the delicious basics — shrimp, sea bass, and clams. Use bottled clam broth as a stand-in for mussel broth and flavor it with spicy chorizo.

02 of 25

Venetian Shrimp with Polenta

Venetian Shrimp Polenta Recipe
Victor Protasio

"All you need to do is make a batch of polenta, which isn't hard at all; it just requires some stirring," says food writer David McCann. "And while the polenta simmers away, all you'll need to do is cook some garlic and white wine and stock, add butter, and, literally two minutes (at most) before you want to serve, toss in the shrimp."

03 of 25

Cioppino with Fennel and Saffron

bowl of copping with grilled bread
Photo by Andrew Bui / Food Styling by Max Rappaport

An abundance of seafood and three types of fennel (bulb, seed, and pollen) infuse chef Brandon Boudet's version of this Italian-American fish stew with remarkable flavor, while Calabrian chile paste and crushed red pepper add a subtle layer of heat. Because the West Coast is famous for its Dungeness crab, a large orange crab with meaty claws, it makes a dramatic showing in this seafood-packed dish.

04 of 25

Lobster Risotto

Lobster Risotto
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

A small pinch of saffron goes a long way in imparting a vibrant golden hue and floral fragrance to this creamy, indulgent lobster risotto. Precooked lobster and bottled clam juice deliver robust layers of flavor with a minimum amount of effort, making this a perfect weeknight supper.

05 of 25

Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic

Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic
© SIMON WATSON

This exquisite, super-simple version of spaghetti con vongole from the chef-owners of Brooklyn's Frankies 457 Spuntino, Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, is packed with garlic and a judicious amount of crushed red pepper. If you prefer, shell the clams before tossing them with their juices in the pasta.

06 of 25

Langoustines alla Busara

Langoustines alla Busara
© Con Poulos

Venice- and London-based blogger Skye McAlpine loves the delicate flavor of langoustines, but to her the real magic of the dish is the super-flavorful tomato sauce in which they simmer. Be sure to have plenty of crusty bread on hand to soak up the sauce.

07 of 25

All'Amatriciana with Extra Umami

All'Amatriciana with Extra Umami
© Christina Holmes

Anchovies please! Top Chef finalist Sarah Grueneberg makes her amatriciana sauce with anchovies, so it's extra savory.

08 of 25

Grilled Shrimp with Oregano and Lemon

Grilled Shrimp with Oregano and Lemon. Photo © John Kernick
© John Kernick

The sauce for this shrimp is a simple version of Italy's salmoriglio, typically made with lemon and herbs in a mortar. The sauce is also delicious spooned over grilled swordfish or any other meaty fish.

09 of 25

Risotto-Style Ditalini with Mussels, Clams and Saffron

Risotto-Style Ditalini with Mussels, Clams and Saffron
© Fredrika Stjärne

For this creamy dish, chefs Tyler Rodde and Curtis Di Fede use a fish stock to cook pasta slowly, risotto-style. If you can't find ditalini, look for another small pasta shape or pearl couscous.

10 of 25

Linguine Piccole with Grilled Swordfish and Parsley Anchovy Sauce

Linguine Piccole with Grilled Swordfish and Parsley Anchovy Sauce
© Ben Dearnley

In this delicious dish, the anchovies provide a roundness and depth of flavor rather than a strong hit of anchovy. If you like, you can swap tuna for the swordfish.

11 of 25

Sardinian-Style Paella

Sardinian-Style Paella
© Frances Janisch

Fregola, the pearl-size Sardinian pasta that is quite similar to couscous, makes a terrific substitute for rice in this paella-style dish; it soaks up a lot of the cooking liquid from the seafood, tomato, and chorizo stew and still stays nicely chewy. For such an impressive main course, it can be prepared surprisingly quickly.

12 of 25

Rigatoni with Sea Bass and Tomatoes

Rigatoni with Sea Bass and Tomatoes
© John Kernick

Chef Marc Vetri uses oversized paccheri for this seafood pasta, but rigatoni works just as well with the juicy tomato sauce and fish.

13 of 25

Clam Risotto with Bacon and Chives

Clam Risotto with Bacon and Chives
© David Malosh

If you buy just-shucked whole clams rather than already chopped clams in a container, use their liquid instead of the bottled clam juice; just be sure to strain it first through a paper towel to remove any grit.

14 of 25

Squid Pizza with Saffron Aioli

HD-200910-r-squid-pizza.jpg
© James Baigrie

Chef Michael Emanuel, an alumnus of Berkeley's Chez Panisse, tops this pizza with an irresistible mix of Provençal flavors: salty-sweet roasted squid, creamy aioli, and crushed red pepper (French piment d'Espelette would also work well). The remaining aioli can be used as a dip for vegetables or a spread for sandwiches.

15 of 25

Italian Seafood Stew

Italian Seafood Stew
© John Kernick

In this luscious tomato-rich stew, chef Marco Canora cooks calamari slowly until it becomes super tender. He says calamari is absolutely essential to the success of the dish, because it releases its liquid as it simmers, which adds a huge amount of flavor to the sauce.

16 of 25

Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara

Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
© TINA RUPP

Chef Chris Cosentino adds briny flavor to his pasta with cured tuna heart, which he shaves on right before serving. This recipe calls for anchovies rather than the tuna heart Cosentino uses. Egg yolks form a silky sauce.

17 of 25

Saffron Spaghetti with Santa Barbara Spot Prawns

Saffron Spaghetti with Spot Prawns Recipe
Aubrie Pick

Spot prawns are incredibly sweet, with plump, tender tails reminscent of lobster. Be sure to remove the prawns from the pan before finishing the sauce to keep them from overcooking.

18 of 25

Monkfish Piccata

Monkfish Piccata Recipe
Greg DuPree

Monkfish, with its tender, springy bite reminiscent of lobster, is firm and sweet enough to stand up to this lemony butter sauce enriched with white miso. Plenty of briny capers and caperberries help balance the richness.

19 of 25

Summer Crab Carbonara with Lemons and Capers

Summer Crab Carbonara with Lemons and Capers Recipe
Michael Piazza

2020 F&W Best New Chef Douglass Williams' method for carbonara allows you to hold the cooked pasta before adding it to the garlic–oil–pasta cooking liquid emulsion. It makes for a simple, creamy carbonara without the stress.

20 of 25

Seafood Stew with Saffron Zabaglione

Seafood Stew with Saffron Zabaglione
© Quentin Bacon

For this brothy stew full of wonderfully moist snapper, tender squid, and plump mussels and clams, prepare the ingredients separately so nothing becomes over- or undercooked. To make the lush saffron zabaglione, which gets stirred into the stew, egg yolks are cooked slowly in wine over the gentle heat of simmering water.

21 of 25

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Lemon, Mint, and Pecorino

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Lemon, Mint and Pecorino
© Con Poulos

Roman chef Angelo Troiani riffs on the classic spaghetti ajo, ojo, e peperoncino (garlic, oil, and chile), embellishing it with shrimp, lemon, pecorino, almond, and mint. It's simple, delicious, and crowd-pleasing.

22 of 25

Judith's Dungeness Crab Cioppino

Judith's Dungeness Crab Cioppino
© Frances Janisch

For Christmas Eve dinner, Judith Tirado, chef Michael Mina's late mother-in-law, always prepared cioppino — the San Francisco seafood stew that owes its origins to fishermen from Italy's Ligurian coast. "She'd spend a whole day infusing the broth with basil and tomatoes," Mina recalls. Now he carries on the tradition by making her hearty, briny recipe full of crab, shrimp, and clams.

23 of 25

Sea Bass with Sicilian Cherry Tomato Sauce

Sea Bass with Sicilian Cherry Tomato Sauce
Abby Hocking

Extra Virgin hosts Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos riff on classic Southern Italian puttanesca with their Sicilian Cherry Tomato Sauce, here made with fresh tomatoes. The recipe calls for wild sea bass, but Mazar and Corcos like to make it with almost any fish, especially rich and oily ones like mackerel or bluefish.

24 of 25

Marinated Fish with Salmoriglio Sauce

Marinated Fish with Salmoriglio Sauce
© Yunhee Kim

This tangy, buttery salmoriglio sauce — a Sicilian classic — is spectacularly delicious with many kinds of fish, not just those specified here; it's always best to simply trust your eyes and nose and buy what's freshest at the fish market.

25 of 25

Creamy Seafood Risotto

Creamy Seafood Risotto
© Frances Janisch

For this risotto, arborio rice is cooked with onion, saffron, wine, and clam juice. Once the rice is done, shrimp and crab are sautéed with butter and shallot and stirred into the rice with mascarpone cheese to elevate the dish's creaminess factor. Fragrant, substantial Soave is a great complement here.

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