La Vera Cucina

“Mariner’s Mussels”

In his ristorante, Pastabilities, Chef Luigi Vitrone wows Wilmington, DE, locals with a variety of Italian specialties, including seafood, veal, and his own house made pastas. Given his passion for fresh flavors, Luigi is especially interested in authentic Old Country recipes whose popularity extends beyond traditional borders.

For example, here is his family’s recipe for “Mariner’s Mussels,” which is enjoyed in fishing villages along the Mediterranean coast from northern Italy to Nice in southern France. Featuring fresh mussels nestled in between crusty, crunchy pieces of Italian bread, this dish gets much of its vibrant aroma and flavor from freshly chopped herbs sautéed in a robustly fresh tasting extra virgin olive oil!


  • 2 pounds scrubbed cultured mussels
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chervil (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons marjoram (finely chopped)
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 6 ounces dry white wine
  • 6 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thin
  • ½ loaf narrow Italian bread, lightly toasted and brushed with extra virgin olive oil on both sides


Place extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium flame. Once oil is hot, add garlic and shallot, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until golden brown. At that moment, add all the fresh herbs into the pan. Add unmelted butter and wine, then add mussels. Cover pan until mussels steam open and mussel meat is firm. Remove and set aside opened mussels (discard unopened ones).

Slowly reduce remaining juices until somewhat thickened. Add heavy cream and reduce, stirring with wooden spoon to prevent scalding. When sauce has again thickened, remove from heat. Slice bread into quarters; place into large serving bowl at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. Attractively place mussels on and around bread. Drizzle sauce evenly over everything. Serve with a dry Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio wine.