A Guide to Italian Seafood

Since Italy is a Mediterranean country, seafood of all kinds is extremely popular. Most restaurants offer fresh-caught dishes that can’t compare to the types of fish many inland Americans are used to eating. As you read the remainder of this guide, you will discover some of the seafood options you can expect to see on menus during your next trip to Italy.


Astice Europeo – Astice Europeo is European lobster. This type of lobster is similar to American lobster and is both more affordable and more prevalent than the pricier “aragosta” style. Lobster is served in several ways. It can be whole, grilled and brushed with butter, or cut into pieces in pasta dishes. 


Calamaro Europeo – Calamaro refers to squid. This is among the only common Italian seafood recipes to be seen in American restaurants. If you’re a fan of calamari at home, you will love the fried version of squid in Italy. Italians also enjoy this dish sliced in pasta and salads or stuffed and served whole. 


Gambero – Gambero is the term for shrimp. In Italy, you can expect shrimp to be served unpeeled, which is a messier experience than most Americans are accustomed to. It is most often grilled or fried and can be served in conjunction with other forms of shellfish in risotto and pasta dishes. 


Polpo – Polpo is Italian for octopus. This seafood is extremely popular among Italians, particularly when served cold with potato salad. You may also see menus that feature grilled polpo or polpo with other types of shellfish in risotto and pasta (this is similar to the aforementioned gambero). 


Riccio di Mare – Riccio di Mare refers to sea urchins. These are not commonly eaten in the United States, but are often seen in Italian restaurants, particularly in coastal areas. They can be consumed raw, like oysters, or sauteed in olive oil and paired with pasta. 


Seppia – Seppia is the term for cuttlefish. It is quite common in Italian cooking and is frequently used like polpo and gambero in risotto and pasta recipes. In addition, seppia’s black ink can serve to flavor sauces and condiments. 


If you would like to enjoy an authentic Italian meal without traveling halfway around the world, look no further than Mare Oyster Bar in Boston’s North End. Our restaurant takes great pride in serving only genuine Italian food handed down through the generations.