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Mario Unclogged: Seven Fishes Shrimp and Pesto

Most purists in Italy consider any sauce for any fish to be nearly heretical, but in Liguria, the herbacious bath of pesto has the weight of barely floral scented spring and early summer breezes so, the odd exception is often made.

In this case the particularly briny shrimp from the Mare Tirreno marry well with a pesto with less cheese than normal and a slight increase in the pine nut content. The first time I tried this was at a seriously relaxed place on the high end in Portofino callled Il Splendido. There is a pool terrace and then a casual restaurant in the garden where they serve lunch only to high-roller Euro types and American heiresses who missed the boat to Clooney's house over on Lago di Como and where, despite the often kiss-kiss-mwah crowd, the food is actually killer.

They serve these marinated shrimp on the salad buffet (I know what you're thinking, and it is not that way here; it is truly exquisite), but they also do a piatto del giorno with a fresh puffy pillow of focaccia genovese, piled with shrimp, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and giant, nearly bitter arugula leaves. Two glasses of local vermentino and a plate of green melon and the nap by the pool puts you into the dreams of Gian Vincenzo Imperiale.

Seven Fishes Shrimp and Pesto

About the author: Mario Batali has created a thriving restaurant empire and has established himself as a top restaurateur. Together with his partner, Joe Bastianich, he operates seven New York City hotspots. Mario splits his time between New York City's Greenwich Village and northern Michigan with his wife, Susan Cahn, of Coach Dairy Goat Farm, and their two sons. More Mario:

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