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Nov 30, 2016 >> How to Make: Pisolino Clams Casino [VIDEO]


The holidays are all about feasting and indulging with the ones you love, so we’re giving you an authentically decadent recipe inspired by the Italian-American Christmas tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We enlisted the help of the husband-wife team behind PISOLINO—our new favorite Italian hideaway in Avondale. Follow along to learn how to craft the most delectable Clams Casino, which is definitely a feast you’ll want to share with friends and family.

Chef James De Marte and event planner Rachel De Marte opened up the doors of their cozy and stylish neighborhood spot nearly a month ago. The small Italian café creates the pizzas and pastas Chef James spent 10 years perfecting in Southern Italy, while Rachel brings her high-profile event planning, styling and catering background to create a magical dining experience. The name Pisolino means nap in Italian, and Rachel even refers to James as the “Nap King” after picking up the habit in Italy.


The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a Christmas Eve celebration that’s traditionally a partial fast. And many Italians interpret this fasting as a time where meat is not served and instead replaced with multiple courses of luxurious seafood dishes. Chef James explains his favorite traditional dishes for this grand meal include Linguine with Lobster Diavola, Halibut in Aqua Pazza, Scugilli (Conch) Salad and Mussels with White Wine. And a family favorite recipe for the holiday season is his aunt’s calzone packed with caramelized onion, garlic, anchovy, cured olives and Toma cheese.

If you’re mouth isn’t watering now, just wait until you indulge in the video recipe above. Chef James crafts the seafood-centric Clams Casino. The shareable dish includes freshly shucked clams baked with a delicious vegetable stuffing and garnished with complementary toppings. While the video gives you an overview of the delish dish, bookmark this page for the full recipe below: 



4 tbsp. olive oil
6 oz. sliced bacon, finely chopped
1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped shallots
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add bacon. Sauté until slightly crispy then transfer the bacon to a plate. Add bell pepper, shallots, garlic and oregano to the same skillet. Sauté until shallots are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and cool completely. Stir reserved bacon, 4 tbsp. parmesan into vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper.


1 bunch parsley
1 garlic clove
1 cup olive oil
36 medium (2 1/2-inch) littleneck clams, shucked, bottom shells reserved
2 cups panko breadcrumbs (enough to cover each clam)
4 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan
Prepared vegetable stuffing (see above recipe)

Puree parsley, garlic and olive oil to create an herb pesto oil, then set aside. Preheat oven to 450F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Arrange clams in the reserved shells on baking sheet. Spoon the prepared vegetable stuffing atop the clams, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Top clams with panko. Drizzle with herb pesto oil. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake until clams are just cooked through and topping is golden, about 10 minutes.


12 thin slices of cured lard
12 thin slices of seared sea scallop (4 x U12 size, cut into 4 slices each)
12 pieces oven roasted plum tomatoes (8 plum tomatoes)

To roast tomatoes, cut lengthwise and toss in herb pesto oil (recipe above), salt, pepper and bake at 300F for 35-45 minutes. To add finishing garnishes, simply top each clam with one of the three garnishes. Then arrange on your favorite platter. Mangia!

Chef James recommends sea urchin, crab meat, truffles and seared foie gras as other favorite garnishes for the dish. Experience more of Pisolino’s southern Italian flavors with items like Friselle, Caponata Siciliana and Baccalá Mantecato. They’re open for morning pastries and coffee, lunch and dinner, then adding in Aperitivo sometime in January to include the chef’s selection of chicchetti and spritz!

Pisolino Italian Caffé, 2755 W. Belmont Ave + 773.293.6025. Visit for more information.

Want more Holiday? See more festive fun here.

Text by Alaina Africano