Fun, Family, and the Feast of the Seven Fishes

By Sean Kenniff | Briana Balducci

By

Sean Kenniff
Briana Balducci
Table set with Hilary Sterling's Feast of the Seven Fishes at Vic's in Manhattan. Available only December 24th.
Table set with Hilary Sterling's Feast of the Seven Fishes at Vic's in Manhattan. Available only December 24th.

Imagine sitting down to a feast where you want to immediately face-plant into a glistening loaf of focaccia—studded from the inside out with sea urchin (here’s the recipe). If that sounds appealing, get ready for the Feast of the Seven Fishes at Vic’s in New York’s NoHo neighborhood. “As soon as they sit down, we hit ’em with the antipasti,” says Rising Star Chef Hillary Sterling of her Christmas Eve extravaganza. From there, the hits just keep on coming.    

Sterling knows how to celebrate, and because her heritage is Eastern European-Jewish, she missed out on Christmas celebrations as a kid. At Vic’s she’s making up for lost time. “It’s something really special to help people celebrate. Let us do it for you, and we’ll make it fun and beautiful. Plus, we get to push ourselves.”

When Sterling says “we,” she’s referring to her kitchen crew. Vic’s celebration menus—Thanksgiving, Passover, Chanukah, Christmas, and Easter—began as family meals (a tradition Sterling carried over from her time at A Voce). Think turkey mole that takes seven days to prepare. “This is how you retain cooks and keep them another year, waiting for another Thanksgiving,” she says. 

On Christmas Eve, the Feast of the Seven Fishes menu is available à la carte, alongside the everyday menu. The full shebang only sets a guest back $70, plus $30 for beverage pairings. “It’s not about price and asking how much. We don’t want to price out regulars,” Sterling says. “It’s about family.” Sterling balances luxe ingredients like sea urchin, bottarga, and fig-chestnut panettone with less lavish, but all the more familial pasta and clams. 

Sterling’s cooking is a multicultural mélange rooted in Italy and her own New York-Jewish upbringing. Family is central to that. “My parents both worked, so we ate a lot of take-out Chinese and bagels and lox. My house smelled different when my grandparents were there,” says Sterling. “All of a sudden, the smell of silver dollar pancakes with all that oil and stuffed cabbage filled the air. My sister and I could smell it upstairs, and we’d get so excited.” 

Just like kids on Christmas day. L’chaim! 

Menu
Sea Urchin Focaccia; Lemon Garlic Butter; Grissini; Winter Squash Caponata; Fermented Red Cabbage 
Stuffed Peppers, Parmigiana, and Cured Maine Sardines
Gently-warmed Albacore and Red Wine Braised Onions 
Roasted Littleneck Clams, Lemon, Garlic, and Breadcrumbs
Spaghetti con Bottarga: Meyer Lemon, Garlic, Chiles, Celery, and Mint
Roasted Scallops, Marsala-braised Leeks, Cinnamon, Anchovy, and Almond
Grilled Fig-Chestnut-Date Panettone and Orange Butter; Menorah Gelt and Clementines 
Piccolo Pasticceria  

 

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