'TIS THE SEASON for another Italian tradition, the Feast of Seven Fishes, usually served Christmas Eve and sometimes involving up to 13 - but never 40! - courses. Did we say this was an Italian tradition? Some say Italian-Americans came up with the idea to show folks back in the Old Country how good life was here. However it started, the custom's pretty entrenched around these parts now. Here's how several local restaurants are observing:
* Northern Italian restaurant Le Castagne (1920 Chestnut St., 215-751-9913, lecastagne.com) takes a seasonal turn with its Feast of Seven Fishes, on the menu through Monday for $75.
* Besides its regular menu, Davio's (111 S. 17th St., 215-563-4810, davios.com) will serve the Feast of Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve on Monday from 5-11 p.m. $75 a person. Reservations required.
* At Latin-centric Verdad Restaurant & Tequila Bar (818 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, 610-520-9100, verdadrestaurant.com), Chef Nick Farina's created a Seven Fish Paella featuring Spanish rice, seasonal vegetables, a whole Maine lobster, mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp, calamari and salt cod. It feeds four for $62.
* John Brandt-Lee's BYOB Avalon Restaurant (312 S. High St., West Chester, 610-436-4100, avalonrestaurant.net) does its sixth annual Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. $45 a person (must be ordered by the table), kids under 12 $15.
* Noir (1909 E. Passyunk Ave., 267-319-1678, noirphiladelphia.com) is putting its seven fish in one bowl for a Bouillabaisse special, $23, through Dec. 30. It combines homemade lobster consommé, herbs, spices, vegetables, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, crab, calamari and a white fish.
- Laurie Conrad