Italian fish names and seafood dishes

Italian Fish & Seafood Names Translated (Best Dishes)

This article will look at some of Italy’s most popular fish and seafood names, including their English and Italian names and the most common ways they are prepared in Italian cuisine.

Regarding Italian cuisine, fish and seafood play a significant role in coastal and inland regions. Many fish names are used in traditional Italian dishes, from the Northern Italian lakes to the Southern Italian seas.

For example, it is traditional in Italy to eat a seafood-based meal on Christmas Eve, known as La Vigilia or Feast of the Seven Fishes.

The specific types of fish and seafood can vary depending on the region and family traditions. Whether you’re familiar with the English or Italian name, these fish and seafood are staples in Italian cuisine.

Italian Fish and Seafood Common Names with English and Italian Translations

Just remember that when it comes to fish and seafood in Italy, the names can vary depending on the region you are in. The same fish or seafood may have different names in different parts of the country.

We will provide the Italian and English names for each item and indicate whether it is classified as a fish or seafood (what distinguishes fish from seafood?). Additionally, we will include one or more commonly known Italian dishes for most items.

Acciuga or Alice | European Anchovy | Seafood

pasta con acciughe
Photo: Pasta con Acciughe

Acciuga (or Alice) is a small fish typically used for its strong, salty flavor in sauces, dressings, and pizzas. It is commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

A common Italian dish made with alici (anchovies) is “pasta con le alici” (pasta with anchovies). It typically includes spaghetti or bucatini pasta, anchovies, garlic, olive oil, breadcrumbs, and sometimes tomatoes or capers.

Aguglia | Needlefish | Fish

Aguglia is a long, slender, and bony fish with a pointed snout and a long jaw native to the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It is commonly used in Italian cuisine.

Anguilla | European Eel | Fish

Anguilla is a long, snake-like fish found in freshwater and saltwater habitats. It is often smoked or grilled and served as a delicacy in many countries.

One typical Italian dish made with anguilla (eel) is “anguilla marinata,” which is marinated eel. The eel is first marinated in vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and parsley and then typically served as an appetizer or antipasto. Another dish is “anguilla arrosto” which is roasted eel, often served with polenta.

Aringa | Herring | Fish

Aringa is a small, oily fish commonly found in the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. It is often salted, smoked, or pickled and used in many traditional dishes.

In Italy, a common way to prepare aringa (herring) is to marinate it in vinegar and then serve it as a topping for crostini or as a salad with onions, celery, and tomatoes. Another popular method is to grill or fry the herring and serve it with a side of grilled vegetables or a simple green salad.

Aragosta | Lobster | Seafood

Aragosta is a large, clawed crustacean commonly used in seafood dishes such as pasta, risotto, and soup. It is often considered a luxury food. A famous Italian dish is “aragosta al vino bianco” (lobster in white wine). The lobster is cooked with white wine, garlic, and parsley.

Astice | Crawfish/Lobster | Seafood

Astice is a type of crustacean that is similar to a small lobster or a large crawfish. It is commonly used in seafood dishes and is considered a delicacy in many countries.

Branzino/Spigola | European Sea Bass | Fish

Branzino alla Griglia
Photo: Branzino alla Griglia

Branzino (Spigola), also known as European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) or Loup de Mer, is a popular fish in Italian cuisine.

Branzino can be prepared and served in a variety of ways, depending on the region and personal preference. One of the most common ways to serve branzino in Italy is grilled with lemon and herbs, sometimes with a drizzle of olive oil. It is often served with roasted or grilled fingerling potatoes and vegetables.

The fish is often served whole, and the meat is prized for its delicate, flaky texture and mild, sweet flavor. Other popular preparations include baked, roasted, or pan-fried vegetables or pasta dishes. Branzino is hugely popular in Italian restaurants across the United States.

Calamaro | Squid | Seafood

Fried Calamari (Italian seafood names)
Photo: Fried Calamari

Calamaro is a cephalopod commonly used in seafood dishes such as pasta, risotto, and fried calamari. “Frittura di Calamari” (fried squid) is a popular Italian dish, often served as an appetizer or a main course. It is made by coating squid rings in seasoned flour or breadcrumbs and then frying them until golden and crispy.

Another common dish is “calamari alla griglia” (grilled squid), which is marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic, and herbs before being grilled and served with a simple salad or vegetable side dish.

Calamari is also commonly used in seafood pasta dishes like “spaghetti alle vongole e calamari” (spaghetti with clams and squid) or “risotto al nero di seppia” (squid ink risotto).

Capesante | Scallop | Seafood

Capesante is a type of bivalve mollusk commonly used in seafood dishes such as pasta, risotto, and ceviche. It is prized for its sweet, delicate flavor.

One common way to prepare capesante (scallops) in Italy is to pan-sear them with butter and garlic and serve them with a simple lemon and white wine sauce.

They can also be grilled or baked with breadcrumbs and herbs, or served raw in crudo dishes such as carpaccio or tartare. Another famous Italian preparation is “capesante gratinate”, where the scallops are baked with a breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese topping.

Carpa | Carp | Fish

Carpa is a fresh water fish found in rivers and lakes throughout Europe and Asia. It is often used in traditional Italian cuisine and is prized for its tender flesh.

One typical Italian dish made with carpa (carp) is “carpa alla parmigiana,” which is carp cooked in a tomato sauce with onions and garlic and topped with grated Parmesan cheese. It is often served with crusty bread or polenta.

Carp is also used in Italian fish stews and soups, such as “brodetto” and “cacciucco.”

Cernia | Grouper | Fish

Cernia is a large, predatory fish in the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans. It is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and has a firm, white flesh. Cernia is a type of fish commonly used in Italian cuisine.

One popular dish is “Cernia in umido”, a flavorful and hearty stew made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. The grouper is simmered in the casserole until tender and flavorful. It is often served with crusty bread or over a bed of pasta.

Castagnola/Guarracino | Scorpaena | Fish

Castagnola, or Guarracino, is a type of rockfish found in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It is commonly used in Italian cuisine and has a sweet, delicate flavor.

Cicale/Canocchie/Canoce | Shrimp/Prawn | Seafood

Cicale, Canocchie, and Canoce are shrimp or prawns commonly used in seafood dishes. They are found in many different parts of the world.

Coregone | Lavaret | Fish

Coregone, also known as Lavaret, is a freshwater fish that is found in lakes throughout Europe. It is commonly used in Swiss, German, and Austrian cuisine.

Cozze/Mitili | Mussels | Seafood

Spaghetti alle Cozze
Photo: Spaghetti alle Cozze

Cozze and Mitili are both types of bivalve mollusk commonly used in seafood dishes such as pasta, paella, and moules marinières. They are found in oceans all over the world.

“Spaghetti alle cozze”, or spaghetti with mussels, is a popular Italian dish typically featuring a tomato-based sauce with garlic, olive oil, and white wine. The mussels are steamed in the sauce and then served on top of the spaghetti, creating a delicious and flavorful seafood pasta dish.

Dentice | Dentex | Fish

Dentice, or Dentex, is a type of sea bream found in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and has a sweet flavor.

“Dentice al sale” is a classic Italian dish that features Dentice. The fish is coated in a layer of salt and baked in the oven, which helps to lock in moisture and enhance its natural flavor. Once cooked, the salt crust is cracked open, and the fish is served with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

This dish is popular in coastal regions of Italy, where Dentice (the Italian fish name for Dentex) is often caught fresh from the sea.

Gallinela | Tub Gurnard | Fish

Gallinela, also known as Tub Gurnard, is a fish in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a distinct, spiny appearance and is commonly used in soups and stews.

Gambero/Scampi | Shrimp | Seafood

Shrimp Scampi (Italian seafood names)
Photo: Shrimp Scampi

Gambero and Scampi are both shrimp types commonly used in seafood dishes. They are found in many different parts of the world and have a sweet, delicate flavor. Gambero and scampi are both types of prawns commonly used in Italian cuisine.

One common way to prepare them is grilled or sautéed with garlic, parsley, and lemon. They can also be used in pasta dishes such as “spaghetti ai gamberi” (spaghetti with prawns) or “risotto agli scampi” (scampi risotto).

Grongo | Sea Robin | Fish

Grongo, or Sea Robin, is a fish in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic oceans. It has a distinctive appearance and is commonly used in soups and stews.

Lampuga | Dolphin Fish | Fish

Lampuga, also known as Dolphin Fish or Mahi Mahi, is a type of fish found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. It has a mild, sweet flavor and is commonly used in grilled or fried dishes.

Lompo | Puddingwife Wrasse | Fish

Lompo, also known as Puddingwife Wrasse, is a fish in the Caribbean Sea and the western Atlantic Ocean. It has a firm, white flesh and is commonly used in Caribbean cuisine.

Mazzancolle | Dublin Bay Prawn/Langoustine | Seafood

Mazzancolle, or Dublin Bay Prawn or Langoustine, is a crustacean in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a sweet, delicate flavor and is commonly used in seafood dishes.

Merlano | Whiting | Fish

Merlano, also known as Whiting, is a fish in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a delicate, flaky texture and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Merluzzo | Cod | Fish

baccalà (the Italian fish name for "salted cod")
Photo: Baked Baccalà with Potatoes and Olives

Merluzzo, also known as Cod, is a fish found in the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It has firm, white flesh. Important to mention in Italian cuisine is “baccalà” (the Italian fish name for “salted cod”), salted and dried Cod that has been preserved through a unique process.

Baccalà is often used in Italian cuisine and is a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes. “Baccalà alla vicentina” is a traditional Venetian-style dish made with Merluzzo (Cod) that has been salt-cured and dried.

The dish is typically prepared by soaking the Cod overnight to remove excess salt, then cooking it in a sauce made with onions, milk, and anchovies. The resulting dish is rich and flavorful and is often served with soft polenta or grilled bread.

Marmora | White Sea Bream | Fish

Marmora, also known as White Sea Bream, is a fish in the Mediterranean and the eastern Atlantic oceans. It has a delicate, sweet flavor and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Muggine | Red Mullet | Fish

Muggine, also known as Red Mullet, is a fish in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a firm, white flesh and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Nasello | Hake | Fish

Nasello, also known as Hake, is a fish in the Atlantic and North oceans. It has a delicate, flaky texture and is commonly used in Spanish and Portuguese cuisine.

Occhiata | Saddled Bream | Fish

Occhiata, or Saddled Bream, is a fish in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a delicate, sweet flavor and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Ombrina | Shi Drum | Fish

Ombrina, also known as Shi Drum, is a fish in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a mild, delicate flavor and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Orata | Gilthead Bream | Fish

grilled Orata
Photo: Grilled Orata with Vegetables

Orata, also known as Gilthead Bream, is a type of fish found in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a firm, white flesh and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

In Italian cuisine, this fish is often prepared as “orata al cartoccio,” where the fish is wrapped in parchment paper with herbs, vegetables, and other seasonings and then baked in the oven. This preparation method helps lock in the flavors and juices, resulting in a tender and flavorful dish.

Ostrica | Oyster | Seafood

Ostrica is a type of bivalve mollusk commonly used in seafood dishes such as oyster Rockefeller, oyster stew, and oyster po’boy. They are found in oceans all over the world.

Parago | White Seabream | Fish

Parago, also known as White Seabream, is a fish in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a delicate, sweet flavor and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Passera di Mare | Flounder | fish

Passera di Mare, or Flounder, is a fish in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a delicate, flaky texture and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Persico | Perch | Fish

Persico, also known as Perch, is a freshwater fish found in rivers and lakes throughout Europe and Asia. It is often used in traditional Italian cuisine and has a delicate, sweet flavor.

One common Italian dish made with persico (perch) is “Persico alla milanese,” which is breaded and fried perch served with a side of risotto alla milanese (saffron risotto).

Pesce Spada | Swordfish | Fish

Spiedini di Pesce Spada (Italian fish name)
Photo: Spiedini di Pesce Spada

Pesce Spada, also known as Swordfish, is a large, predatory fish found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It has a firm, meaty texture and is commonly used in grilled or roasted dishes.

“Spiedini di pesce spada,” or swordfish skewers, is popular in Italian cuisine. The swordfish is cut into cubes and marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs before being skewered, grilled, or roasted. It is often served with grilled vegetables or a simple salad for a delicious and healthy meal.

Polpo/Polipo | Octopus | Seafood

Polpo and Polipo are both names for octopus, a type of cephalopod commonly used in seafood dishes such as octopus salad, octopus carpaccio, and grilled octopus.

“Polpo alla Luciana” is a traditional Italian dish from the Campania region that features a tender octopus cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with garlic, chili pepper, and herbs such as parsley and oregano.

The octopus is typically simmered in the sauce until it becomes tender and flavorful. It is often served as a main course or an appetizer with bread. It is a popular seafood dish in Italy, especially in summer.

Rana Pescatrice | Monkfish | Fish

Rana Pescatrice, also known as Monkfish, is a fish in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has a firm, meaty texture and is commonly used in seafood stews and curries.

Riccio di Mare | Sea Urchin | Seafood

Riccio di Mare, also known as Sea Urchin, is a type of echinoderm commonly used in sushi, pasta, and other seafood dishes. They are found in all of the world’s oceans.

Rombo | Turbot | Fish

Rombo fish is a type of fish that is commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea. It is also known as turbot in English. The Rombo fish has a flat body and is a prized fish in Italian cuisine, known for its delicate flavor and firm, white flesh.

It can be prepared in various ways, such as grilling, baking, or frying, and is often served with sauces or herbs. “Rombo Chiodato” is the Italian name for thornback ray, a cartilaginous fish found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Italian cuisine often uses dishes such as pasta with thornback ray sauce and thornback ray baked in the oven with potatoes and tomatoes.

Salmone | Salmon | Fish

Salmone, also known as salmon, is a large, migratory fish that is found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the rivers that flow into them. It has a rich, buttery flavor and is commonly used in grilled or baked dishes.

Sardina | Sardine | Fish

Sardine
Photo: Sardine

Sardina, also known as Sardine, is a small, oily fish that is found in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It is often canned or preserved and used in sauces and spreads.

One typical Italian dish made with sardines is “pasta con le sarde” (pasta with sardines), a traditional Sicilian dish. The sardines are typically cooked with garlic, onion, tomato, pine nuts, raisins, and fennel and then tossed with spaghetti or other pasta. It’s a flavorful and hearty dish that’s enjoyed throughout Italy. Sardines are also commonly used in other pasta dishes and sauces.

Seppia | Cuttlefish | Seafood

Seppia is a type of cephalopod similar to squid and commonly used in seafood dishes such as paella, risotto, and grilled cuttlefish.

A typical Italian dish made with seppia (cuttlefish) is “risotto al nero di seppia” or “risotto with cuttlefish ink.” The dish is made by cooking rice with cuttlefish ink, giving it a dark color and a slightly salty taste.

Chopped pieces of cuttlefish are often added to the risotto for texture and flavor. It is a popular seafood dish in Italian cuisine, especially in coastal regions.

Sogliola | Sole | Fish

Sogliola, also known as Sole, is a flatfish that is found in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has a delicate, flaky texture and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

“Sogliola alla mugnaia” is a classic Italian dish featuring a sole cooked simply. The fish is lightly coated in flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then pan-fried in butter until golden brown.

The dish is finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh parsley. It is often served alongside roasted or sautéed vegetables. The dish’s name, “mugnaia,” is thought to come from how the fish is cooked, which resembles the motion of a miller’s wife shaking flour from a sieve.

Spatola | Atlantic Wreckfish | Fish

Spatola, also known as Atlantic Wreckfish, is a type of fish that is found in the Atlantic Ocean. It has a firm, white flesh and is commonly used in grilled or roasted dishes.

Totano | Squid | Seafood

Totano is a cephalopod type similar to calamari and commonly used in seafood dishes such as pasta, risotto, and fried squid.

One common way to make totano (squid) in Italy is to prepare it as “calamari fritti,” where the squid is cleaned, sliced into rings or strips, and coated in a seasoned flour mixture before being fried until crispy.

It is often served as an appetizer with a squeeze of lemon juice and a side of marinara sauce for dipping.

Tonno | Tuna | Fish

Bluefin Tuna
Photo: Bluefin Tuna

Tonno, the Italian fish name for Tuna, is popular in many Italian dishes. Italy is known for its rich fishing history; tuna has played a significant role in this industry. While there are various types of tuna, the bluefin tuna stands out as a prized catch. Bluefin tuna is known for its tender meat, making it a favorite ingredient in sushi and grilled dishes.

The annual “mattanza” event in Sicily, Italy, is an age-old tradition where fishermen catch bluefin tuna during its migration to the Mediterranean.

The event showcases the incredible skill of the fishermen, who use a complex and challenging fishing method called the “tonnara,” which involves large nets to capture the tuna. This tradition has been passed down for generations and is a unique aspect of Italian culture.

High-quality bluefin tuna is more expensive than other types of tuna due to its rarity and popularity. It is used to make high-end dishes in Italian cuisine, such as tartare and crudo, highlighting its delicate texture and rich flavor.

While regular tuna is still a popular ingredient in Italian dishes, bluefin tuna has a unique place in the country’s culinary history and culture.

One typical Italian dish made with tuna is “Insalata di tonno e fagioli,” a salad made with canned tuna, cannellini beans, red onion, celery, parsley, and a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Another popular dish is “spaghetti al tonno”, which is spaghetti with a sauce made from canned tuna, garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil. Tuna is also commonly used in grilled or baked dishes, such as tuna steaks or baked tuna with tomato and caper sauce.

Trota | Trout | Fish

Trota, also known as trout, is a freshwater fish that is found in rivers and lakes throughout Europe and North America. It has a delicate, mild flavor and is commonly used in grilled or smoked dishes.

A common way to prepare trota (trout) in Italy is to grill or pan-fry it with olive oil, garlic, and lemon. It can also be baked with herbs and breadcrumbs or smoked.

Another popular preparation is to stuff the trout with herbs and other ingredients before cooking. It is often served with roasted or grilled vegetables, potatoes, or polenta.

Vongole | Clams | Seafood

Spaghetti alle Vongole
Photo: Spaghetti alle Vongole

Vongole is a type of bivalve mollusk commonly used in seafood dishes such as spaghetti alle vongole, clam chowder, and clam bake. They are found in oceans all over the world.

“Spaghetti alle vongole,” or spaghetti with clams, is a popular Italian dish with fresh clams, garlic, olive oil, and white wine. The clams are cooked in a sauce made from garlic, oil, and wine and served over spaghetti noodles. This dish is trendy in coastal regions of Italy, where fresh fish is abundant.

What is the Difference between Fish and Seafood?

Fish and seafood are aquatic creatures commonly consumed as food, but there is a difference between the two.

Fish is an aquatic animal with a backbone and gills for breathing. Examples of fish include salmon, trout, cod, tuna, and haddock. Fish is often sold in markets as whole fish, fillets, or steaks and can be cooked in various ways such as grilling, baking, frying, or poaching.

Seafood is a broader term that encompasses all edible aquatic animals and plants, including fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and mollusks. This means seafood includes fish and creatures like shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters, clams, mussels, and squid.

In summary, fish is a specific type of seafood that refers only to aquatic animals with backbones and gills. In contrast, seafood is a more general term that includes all edible marine creatures, including fish.

Italian Fish & Seafood Names: Appreciating Italy’s Diverse Flavors and Traditions

Exploring Italian cuisine’s fish names and seafood ingredients is a great way to appreciate Italy’s diverse flavors and traditions. From the Adriatic seas to Northern Italy’s lakes and Southern Italian seas, a vast array of seafood delicacies is waiting to be discovered.

Whether you prefer to enjoy your fish grilled, roasted, baked, or raw, there are endless ways to prepare and enjoy these ingredients in traditional Italian dishes. So, the next time you’re in Italy or enjoying Italian cuisine, watch for these fish names and seafood ingredients and experience the rich and diverse flavors of Italian cuisine.

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