La Vera Cucina

Pane fritt’ con Alici (Anchovy Fritters)

For Bev Gallant, owner of the Bear Ly Inn and Restaurant in Rumford, ME, the distinctive flavor of alici (pronounced “ah-leege” in her grandmother’s Abruzze dialect), or anchovy, evokes warm memories of Christmas and other large family celebrations!

For centuries, alici have been an important source of protein and characteristic flavor throughout the Mediterranean. Unlike lesser quality anchovy, superior filets are prized for their firm texture and mild, meaty taste. Here, Bev shares her nonna’s recipe for Pane Fritt’ con Alici. As the name fritt’ (pronounced “freet”) implies, small balls of bread dough are wrapped around anchovy filets and lightly fried in robust extra virgin olive oil to create this savory antipasti!


  • 1 ¾ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110° to 115°F)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh, coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces large anchovy filets, packed in oil
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing)


Dissolve yeast in warm water in large mixing bowl, stirring well. Let stand 10 minutes to proof. Stir in two teaspoons olive oil, then flour, pepper, and salt. Mix well until dough comes together, adding a little more flour if dough is too sticky. Place on lightly floured surface; knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place dough into lightly oiled bowl, turning dough to cover with oil.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough; knead briefly on lightly floured surface. Return dough ball to lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Slap down dough, then stretch it until it reaches a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut dough into 3 inch squares. Place one anchovy filet on each dough square; roll dough around length of anchovy and seal by pinching edges together.

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in large cast iron skillet over medium low heat. Working in batches, gently add rolls to hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes; turn rolls over to brown second side. Remove from oil and place rolls on paper towels to cool. Serve warm.