Italian Fish Species and Recipes

Italian Fish and Seafood

Lovers of seafood will always enjoy the Italian fish cuisine. The cuisine ranges from seafood appetizers to different kinds of pasta dishes or fillet. Moreover, you can also have creamy Italian fish sauce to go with your meal. There are appetizers like smoked salmon, cold seafood salads, among others.

Italian Fish and Seafood Species

Those who are not conversant with Italian cuisine think that it is made up of pasta, pizza, and dishes with lots of carbohydrates, cheeses, and meats. If you visit Italy, you will realize that there are quite a number of traditional Italian fish dishes. Discussed below are some of the fish and seafood species:



It is the European anchovy. These are small fish that are prepared in different ways. They can be deep-fried, marinated, or grilled. They can also be used in making sauces and dressings that add umami richness. Other regions add some anchovy to their deep-fried zucchini flowers.

European anchovy fried and served on the plate with a slice of lemon - The Proud Italian


This is the European Eel. Its flesh is oily, and it tastes better when fried or roasted over coals.


Branzino is the European Seabass. They can be served roasted, whole, or grilled with herbs and olive oil. You can have your Branzino with potatoes. When served, ask your waiter to clean the roasted fish for you or debone it.


Cernia is one of the most delicious fishes in the Mediterranean. It is usually served whole just like the Branzino.


This is the Dentex. It is an Italian fish that is full of flavor. You can roast it whole or serve it in tomato sauce.

A couple of fished Dentex fishes on the table with cherry tomatoes and parsley beside them - The Proud Italian


Merluzzo is the Atlantic cod. Most Italians consume it in large quantities. It is eaten fresh, salted baccala, or dried stocccafisso. In places like Venice, it is used as a popular cicchetti appetizer.


Orata is a Gilt-head Seabream. It is often served whole, just like the Branzino.

Pesce Spada

Pesce spade is the swordfish. They are mostly grilled and dressed with herbs, olive oil, and tomatoes. Generally, they are served in steaks or tranci.


Sogliola is the sole. You will rarely find it in a restaurant; it is mostly served at home. It has a mild flavor, and it is less bony hence primarily served to children.

Stuffed Sole fish dish on the plate with steamed green leafy veggies and thin slice of lemon on it with a branch of rosemary - The Proud Italian


This is the Bluefin tuna. An Italian fish dinner cannot be complete without an Italian tuna since it is one of the world’s best. Sicily’s San Vito lo Capo is famous for tuna fishing.


You will always find Italy’s freshwater trout on different menus at destinations around lakes and rivers. They can be served whole, baked, or roasted.


Astice Europeo

This is the European Lobster. Most lobster dishes in Italy use astice that looks like the American lobster. They are normally grilled with herbs and olive oil. You will realize that butter is rarely used in Italian fish and seafood dishes.

Calamaro Europeo and Totano

This is the squid. There are different ways in which it can be served:

  • The squid’s body can be stuffed whole and baked.
  • It can be chopped and used as an ingredient in pasta or risotto.
  • It can be sliced into rings and fried.


Gambero is the shrimp. Most Italians love it when their shrimp is served unpeeled. You can prepare it by grilling or frying with other seafood for pasta or risotto.

Shrimps on chopping board with slices of lime beside - The Proud Italian


This is the octopus. Octopus and potato salad is a seafood appetizer that is loved by many. You can serve it grilled or mixed with other seafood and fish for pasta and risotto.

Riccio di Mare

Riccio di Mare is the sea urchin. Like oysters, it is usually eaten raw. You can also sautee it with herbs and olive oil.


This is the Norwegian lobster. It is a sizeable clawed prawn that is known by a variety of names. It is mostly served whole and grilled with herbs and olive oil.


This is the cuttlefish that is commonly used as an ingredient in seafood dishes. Its black ink is used to relish condiments and sauces.

A couple of cooked cuttlefishes on the plate with a glass of white vine served on the table - The Proud Italian

Italian Seafood Phrases in English


Aguglia is an Italian fish that is less bony. It is called the Gar-fish in English.


This is a type of fish that lives in freshwater bodies. In English, it is called the European Eel.


It is the European anchovy in English. They are small fish that generally move in large schools.


It is known as the Atlantic Herring in English. They always move in groups of hundreds of thousands.

Atlantic Herring slice on a fork with slice of lemon and branch of rosemary - The Proud Italian


Aragosta is the Mediterranean Lobster. It is spiny, and you will always find it in the Mediterranean Sea. Some people call it the common spiny lobster, red lobster, and European spiny lobster.

Astice Europeo

This is the European lobster in English. It is a species that lives a lonely life in holes. They live a nocturnal life, but you will find it during the day on the seafloor.


In English, it is known as the European Seabass. In Italy, it is bred in salty waters.

Calamaro Europeo

Calamaro Europeo is the squid in English. As small as it is, its body can be stuffed whole or sliced into rings for Frittura di calamari. The tentacles, arms, and ink of the squid are edible as well.


This is the Pilgrim scallop. The scallop shell is familiar with pilgrims on the way to St. James to the apostle’s shrine at Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Pilgrim scallop dish served on the plate with slices of zucchini - The Proud Italian


This is the carp. It is a deadly fish species. In some countries, it is used in the making of fertilizer.


Cernia is the Dusky grouper. It is said to have the best flavor compared to other Mediterranean fishes. It has a large body, a long dorsal fin, and a rounded tail. The great taste it has makes it always present in Italian food.


Castagnola is known as the Black Damselfish. They are little black fish that are not likely found in meals.


This is the Mantis shrimp, but they are not really shrimps. They are also known as thumb-cutters since they are so brutal.


It is also known in English as the Lake or the common whitefish.

Whitefish that's caught on fishing rod, whit fishing net beside in the boat on the water - The proud Italian


Cozze are Mussels. It is not healthy to eat them raw as they may lead to diarrhea.


This is the Dentex. It is one of the most expensive Mediterranean fish. It is quite pricy because it is rich in flavor.


Gallinela is the Sea Robin. When cooked, its flesh is firm and tender and so delicious as well. You can use it to prepare the Italian fish soup.


The Gambero is known by several English names; pink shrimp, cold-water shrimp, deep-water shrimp, Northern shrimp, or Alaskan shrimp.


This is the Conger eel that looks like a snake. It is terrifying when you happen to come across it when diving deeply into the sea.


Lampuga is a Dolphin fish that is typically found in the Mediterranean sea. In Italy, it is an appreciated food.

Dolphin fishes on the floor - The Proud Italian


This is the lumpsucker. It has translucent orange eggs that are used as a delicious option for the expensive caviar.


They are the Caramote Prawns that are so tasty. In some instances, they are called Gambero because of their large size and good quality.


This is an Atlantic cod-like fish. Its eggs are driven by currents across different oceans from Britain to the Italian seas.


Merluzzo is the Atlantic cod that is consumed in large quantities by Italians. In an Italian fish dinner, you may not miss the cod as either dried (stoccafisso) or salted (baccala).

A pair of dried Atlantic cod hanging on wooden wall - The Proud Italian


This is the Redbanded Seabream or the Red Porgy. In some sushi restaurants, it is sold as Tai.


Muggine is the Flathead Grey Mullet. It can be grated on seasoned spaghetti or eaten sliced as an appetizer during Roman Jewish saders.


This is the European Hake. They are among the kinds of fish that are over-fished, making them a vulnerable lot.


It is the Saddled bream. Occhiata means ‘glance,’ and amazingly, the fish has enormous eyes. You can easily recognize it by the dark stripes it has on the tail.


This is the European Drum that is commonly known as “drums or croakers.” You will mostly find them in rocky areas.


Oratas are very common in Italian fish markets. They are among the type of fish that are introduced first to kids. The Gilt-head seabream is the English name for Oratas.

Baked Oratas with onions and slices of lime beside the fish - The Proud Italian


This is the oyster. It is a delicacy in Italy, and you will always find it in an Italian fish dinner.


This is the Pandora. It is found in the Mediterranean countries and is known for its white flesh and silver color with a pink tinge.

Passera di mare

It is the European Plaice. Its fillets are always ready to be baked, and you can get them in any Italian supermarket.


Persico is the perch. It is a freshwater fish that is used in different Italian fish recipes.


Polpo is the Octopus in English. It is very intelligent in that it can unscrew a jar.

Rana Pescatrice

It is the monkfish that is known to be very ugly. You will find fish traders displaying it upside down. Some traders only display the edible part which is found towards the tail.

Monkfish dish on plate with slices of grilled peppers on the side - The Proud Italian

Riccio di Mare

This is the sea urchin. Female urchins come in different colors; brown, olive, purple, green, and red. They are mostly caught for their reproductive organs that are such a delicacy. The urchin roe can be served with rice or preserved in alcohol. Some people eat them raw!


This is a very healthy salmon. It is known to provide Omega3 fatty acids, high proteins, and vitamin D.


Sardina is the sardine. They are commonly found in the Mediterranean, and they taste good when fresh.


This is the common cuttlefish. It has black ink that is used as an ingredient in Italian food. You will find it being used in entrees, risotto, and pasta dishes.


This is the Silver Scabbardfish that is found in deep waters. They are easy to prepare since they have no scales. Children love them a lot.


The Totano is the flying squid that is almost similar to the common squid. The difference is the more elongated body and fins that are placed differently.


This is the striped venus clams. There are different varieties in Italy like the vongole veraci, the Tartufi, or the vongole poveracce that is known as the Venus clams in English. The vongole can be served with spaghetti.

Venus clams in cooking pan on chopping board, wooden spoon, parsley, wooden bowl or salt and bottles of oils - The Proud Italian

Italian Seafood Recipes

Here are some of the most famous Italian fish recipes that you can try at home:

Triglie Alla Livornese

Serves 4


  • 4 whole red mullets
  • 4 tablespoonfuls of extra-virgin oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch dried chile flakes
  • 14oz  (400 grams) chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup of red wine (125 milliliters)
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt, for seasoning
  • Crusty bread, for serving


  • Scale the mullets and snip their fins. Make sure they are whole. Sprinkle salt on both sides and put them aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and let it cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the chile flakes and the tomatoes. Add 60 milliliters of water and cook over medium heat. After 2-3 minutes, add the wine and bring it to simmer.
  • Add the mullets and cook each side for about 3 minutes.
  • Serve with parsley, a little extra-virgin olive oil, and lots of crusty Tuscan bread.

You will find this dish in the Province of Livorno.

Sarde in saor

Sarde in saor dish served on a plate - The Proud Italian

Serves 6


  • 1 kg whole sardines, heads, and scales removed
  • 40g of sifted, plain flour
  • Sunflower oil
  • 1kg sliced white onions
  • 160ml of white wine vinegar
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt


  • Rinse the sardines under cold water and dry them with a kitchen towel. Put flour in a bowl and add the sardines. Shake off any excess flour on the sardines.
  • Fill 2/3 of the frying pan with sunflower oil. Heat the oil over medium heat to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Put a few sardines in the hot oil. Let them fry on each side until they are crispy and opaque inside. Drain the excess oil and put them aside, and salt them too. Repeat the procedure with the rest of the sardines
  • Discard the oil until you have a thin film remaining. Add onions and let them cook until soft.
  • Whisk the vinegar and sugar and pour them in. Season the liquid with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange a layer of sardines in a large bowl. Cover it with a layer of white onions. Repeat in layers until you are done with all the ingredients. Leave to cool and then wrap in a cling film for refrigeration to marinate for 24 hours.

This dish is common in Venice.

Pasta e alici

Pasta e alici dish - The Proud Italian

Serves 4


  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 8 chopped anchovies
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 14-16 halved tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoonful of basil
  • ½ teaspoonful of oregano
  • A pinch of 2 hot pepper flakes
  • 3 cups of cooked spaghetti


  • In a large pot, cook the spaghetti al dente in salted water.
  • In another pan, add oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and pepper flakes. Cook until the tomatoes are soft. Add the anchovies and cook them until they are creamy.
  • Add the cooked spaghetti and ¼ ladle of pasta water. Cook in high heat until the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately.

Bottom Line

You definitely want to try out the above recipes. You won’t regret it one bit. The Italian fish dishes are so nutritious hence good for your health. You should try out one of the recipes at home!

Which Italian Fish Species is your favorite? Tell us in the comment section!

If you enjoyed this article, why not read our article on the Best Cooking Schools in Italy?