Struffoli and The Feast of the Seven Fishes

In honor of what would have been Frank Sinatra's 102nd birthday, we bring you recipes for some of his favorite dishes from Patsy's Italian Restaurant of New York®, known for years as Frank's favorite Italian fare. Operated by the Scognamillo family since 1944, Patsy's has had only three chefs. The late "Patsy" himself, his son Joe and Joe's son Chef Sal Scognamillo, who's been at the kitchen's helm for the past 30 years.

Struffoli and The Feast of the Seven Fishes

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We recently wrote about Frank Sinatra’s favorite Italian Restaurant, Patsy’s in New York City, sharing recipes for some of Sinatra’s favorite dishes. Today, Chef Sal Scognamillo is sharing a family favorite recipe for Struffoli.

Struffoli. Photo: Patsy’s Italian Restaurant.

Stuffoli is a tasty treat, essentially little balls of fried dough that are glazed with honey. They’re perfect little indulgences and can be served as a light treat on Christmas day, following the Feast of Seven Fishes, an Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration and, because they don’t contain butter, can be served during the Feast itself. Chef Sal recommends pairing with espresso or a glass of sweet wine, like a Marsala.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a Christian celebration of the wait on Christmas Eve for the birth of Jesus. During the feast, seven different seafood dishes are served. In Italy, it’s known as Vigillia di Natale.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, large
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • As needed Vegetable oil, for frying and oiling the serving dish
  • 1 cup honey
  • As needed Nonpareils (colored sugar sprinkles), for garnish
  • As needed Maraschino cherries, for garnish


  • 1 Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and, one at a time, stir in the eggs. Add the vanilla and mix well to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • 2 Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into a ¼ -inch-thick rectangle. Cut the dough into ½ -inch-wide stripes. Roll each strip under the palms of your hands on the work surface to make long pencil-thick ropes. Cut the ropes into ¼ -inch pieces. Transfer the dough pieces to a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • 3 Line another large rimmed baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Pour enough oil into a large wide saucepan to come halfway up the sides and heat over high heat to 350 ° F. Working in batches without crowding, add the dough pieces and deep-fry, turning them as needed, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet.
  • 4 Lightly oil a round serving dish. Heat the honey in a large skillet over medium heat until fluid. Add the balls and stir until completely coated. Spoon the balls onto the baking sheet. Garnish with the nonpareils and cherries. Let cool.


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