By Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro

(credit: Kristien Del Ferraro)

The ornaments are hung on the tree, with presents overflowing underneath.  Christmas music plays softly, cinnamon and pine waft through the air, and conversation fills the house.   The food’s on the stove, in the oven, and the dinner hosts are doing their best balancing acts.  For these home chefs, cooking can be time consuming and stressful, but getting the ingredients doesn’t have to be.  And, if you’re Italian or would like to pretend to be for the holidays, ingredients make the meal and bring the amore.  Be prepared, though.  Being Italian means that you prepare a big meal on Christmas Eve with seafood and a molto bene Christmas dinner too.  Well, to help you along we’ve put together a guide to help you pull off the perfect Italian holiday dinner.  Buon Natale.

Christmas Eve Dinner at Stamford Fish & Seafood

Stamford Fish & Seafood
13 High Ridge Rd
Stamford, CT 06905
(203) 348-4600
Hours:  Mon – Fri, 8:30am–7pm; Sat, 8:30am–6pm; Sun, closed

A typical Christmas Eve dinner (Feast of the Seven Fishes) in an Italian household has seafood as the star, and cioppino in particular.  We’re talking about a hearty, satisfying, and seafood-laden soup that will warm you up, satisfy you, and get you in the holiday mood.  The seafood used in cioppino varies depending on the family, but some popular ingredients are mussels, clams, crab, lobster, calamari, shrimp, scallops, halibut, salmon, and red snapper.  Why not get all your shopping done for this meal in one stop?  Right on High Ridge Rd., you’ll find a very unassuming Stamford Fish & Seafood.  Inside, though, you’ll be amazed at the variety of fresh daily caught fish that won’t break the bank like other seafood spots.  Whatever fish you need, chances are, they’ve got it.  Plus, they have breading and some other seafood related staples on the shelves for you.

Appetizers at Fairway Market

(credit: Dan Del Ferraro)

Fairway Market
699 Canal Street
Stamford, CT 06902
(203) 388-9815
Hours:  8 am – 10 PM, all week

You’ll want to serve up some quality Italian cheese, a variety of olives, fresh roasted peppers, and some soft and crispy bread.  Lucky for you we’ve found the perfect spot to get all the antipasti that your heart desires.  Opened just last year, Fairway Market in Stamford has you covered.  After you leave the produce section, you will cower in awe at the seemingly limitless cheeses available.  To the right you’ll find the olive and pepper bar with an amazing selection that you can load up on.  Just a little bit further you’ll find an overwhelming plethora of the best tasting and highest quality olive oils and vinegars from around the world.  Before you leave, check out the bakery and find a few loaves of Italian bread so your guests can dip away and make up their own flavor combos.

Main Courses at A&S Fine Foods

(credit: Dan Del Ferraro)

A&S Fine Foods
120 New Canaan Avenue, Norwalk, CT
(203) 847-6336
856 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT
(203) 322-3899
Hours:  M-F, 9:00 am – 6:30 pm; Sat 9:00 am- 5:00 pm; Sun 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Finally, it’s dinnertime.  The family sits and gawks at the dishes that you’re sending out.  Now, listen up, because we’re going to tell you where to go because you can’t have the best meal and impress your mother-in-law unless you use the best ingredients.  Go to A&S Fine Foods in Norwalk or Stamford because they have a delicious variety of fresh pastas and sauces to serve with your meal.  Also, have your pick with beautiful cuts of beef, pork, chicken, veal, and lamb.  They also sell homemade sausages that they can have custom made for you.  Even better?  If they don’t have the meat you need, just ask or call and they’ll get it for you.  They suggest you call your order in ahead of time during the holidays because it is their busiest time.  Feast of the Seven Fishes, antipasti, and entrees done.  Now, onto dessert!

Desserts at Angela Mia

(credit: Kristien Del Ferraro)

Angela Mia
247 Connecticut Ave.
Norwalk, CT 06854
(866) 642-8729
Hours:  Tue – Sat, 8 am to 8 pm; Sun, 8 am to 6 pm; Mon, closed

Let’s face it, after you’ve prepared your appetizers and your entrees, you probably don’t have much energy left at all.  Why not give yourself a break and get some classic Italian pastries at Angela Mia in Norwalk?    Canolis, sfogliatelle, Italian cookies, struffoli, tiramisu, and other Italian delicacies await you.  Make sure you get there with lots of time to spare because Angela Mia can get packed.  You also want that first pick.  If your guests can’t get enough, Angela Mia delivers nationwide so it can be Christmas all year long for them.  So, ciao and chow this Christmas… the Italiano way.

Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro are founders and co-bloggers for OmNomCT, an omnivorous couple’s perspective on all things omnomable in lower Fairfield County, CT.  They are also Italian… obviously.