How to make Lidia Bastianich's Whole Roast Branzino for dinner tonight

A recipe from the Felidia menu that’s “simple and fresh, and an absolute guest favorite.”

A recipe from the Felidia menu that’s “simple and fresh, and an absolute guest favorite.”

(Photography by Jennifer May)

A whole-roasted fish! What a flavourful, impressive meal. The beauty lies in the absolute simplicity of cooking it bone-in, skin-on. And if you’ve been unsure how to tackle it in the past, we turn your attention to this recipe for a Whole Roasted Branzino from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich’s cookbook Felidia. It’s from her restaurant of the same name and takes you through the simple steps for making one of the most popular picks on the menu — at your place. 

Whole Roasted Branzino

By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

This dish has graced the Felidia menu since the very beginning. It’s simple and fresh, and an absolute guest favorite. It is cooked whole, with the bones in, which gives it an intense, delicious flavor, and our captains fillet it table side. Have your fishmonger select fish that are all about the same size, so they cook at the same rate. A fillet of fish is convenient and easy to cook and eat, but there is nothing better than a whole roasted fish for flavor. Other fish like red snapper, sea bass, or striped bass could be substituted — just be mindful of the size and hence its cooking time.


  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb very small red potatoes, halved
  • 4 whole branzino (about 1 ¼ lb each), cleaned
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 tsp
  • Chopped leaves
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 medium sweet onions, peeled and halved, crosswise
  • 4 small plum tomatoes, cored and halved
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with salted water to cover. Bring to a simmer, and cook until half cooked, still al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, and rinse to cool. Pat dry. 

Wrap the tails of the fish in foil to keep them from burning. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Stick a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf in the cavity of each fish. Brush all over with the garlic oil, and arrange the fish on a rimmed baking sheet so they don’t touch. 

Combine the onion halves and tomatoes in a large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil, and gently toss to coat the vegetables in the oil. Arrange the vegetables on another baking sheet, setting the tomatoes cut side up. 

Roast the fish and vegetables until the fish are cooked through and the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes, tossing the vegetables once or twice. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with 2 teaspoons of the garlic oil and the chopped thyme. Remove the fish from the oven, and tent with foil to keep warm. Scatter the breadcrumbs over the vegetables, and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Roast until crumbs are crisp, about 5 minutes. 

Stir the lemon juice and parsley into the remaining garlic oil. Remove the foil from the fish, and serve with the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining oil over all.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Excerpted from Felidia by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich with Fortunato Nicotra and Tanya Bastianich Manuali. Copyright © 2019 by Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Photography copyright © 2019 by Jennifer May. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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