If Christmas Eve dinner is a delicate mix of light fare – fish and seafood – and indulgent treats – lots and lots of panettone – Christmas lunch in Italy is all about carb-feasting, meat-eating, and putting on a real show of a banquet.
The meal usually starts around midday and lasts well into the evening, with breaks in between to open presents, play a board game or two, and maybe, just maybe, take a walk around the block to stretch your legs and prepare for a second round of food – although it’s also perfectly acceptable to stay indoors all day instead.
The dishes on the menu follow strict traditions, which vary from region to region. Tortellini in brodo are an Emilia-Romagna must, while Campania prefers a hefty pasta bake. Marche locals will serve cappelletti (similar to tortellini), while in Sicily you might find crispelle (fried dough) stuffed with anchovies or ricotta, and fried baccala (cod) as a main.
Regardless, the gastronomic affair is one to be enjoyed wholeheartedly, and always with your loved ones.
Of course, it helps if one of those loved ones happens to be a chef, like Michelino Gioia of Hotel Il Pellicano. A Christmas enthusiast, Gioia loves to put together a fanciful Christmas menu for his family because, as he’ll tell you, “Christmas lunch is the most joyful of meals, and going all out for it is part of the fun.”
We asked him to share his dreamy take on the yuletide celebration, from starters to dessert. What we got is a blend of Il Pellicano and his own traditions, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients – in this case those of the Tuscan coast, his adopted home.
Ready to dig in?