June 27, 2012 / Food & Wine
Rome, Italy

PESCIOLINO!!! (pronounced pey-show-LEE-no, lit. “little fish”) is what the fishmonger at the market in the piazza hollers out every 45 seconds to let everyone know that it’s a fish day (Tuesdays and Fridays only) and that he’s open for business.

Now, him using “pesciolino” is a bit of a running joke in the neighborhood. While he certainly has little and even normal sized fish for sale, his big draw on any fish day (and which he’ll sell all of by 2 pm) will be a 4-5 foot long swordfish (not including sword) laid out on its own butcher’s block in front of his stall. Pesciolino indeed!

Preparation in padella? (Lit., “in the pan.”) Nothing could be simpler!

Good olive oil, a chopped garlic clove, a tablespoon of capers, and a big handful of cherry tomatoes cut into pieces. (Didn’t have cherry tomatoes on hand, so used others.)
Get the heat up, the juices going, and the right sound coming from the garlic.
Plonk the pescespada right down in the middle of it all for 3-5 minutes (depends on how thick the slice is).
Flip, and cook the other side.

If you wanna get all fancy-like, throw in wine at some point and cook it off. Oh, parsely too, of course. Below, the “pesciolino” is served with zucchini by the way.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

23 Responses to “Pescespada”

  1. Mary Jane Cryan

    GB, my favorite fish, no worry about bones,cleaning, and what flavor! If you dont have vegetables, just marinate with extra virgin olive oil and toss the pesce spada on a very hot griddle/frying pan to sear it nicely and keep in all the juices. Serve with salt and lemon.

  2. Mitti Meyers

    It is not PESCOLINO, it is PESCIOLINO!!!!!!!!! If it would be pescolino, the fish monger would cry “pey-sco-lee-no” and not “pey-show-lee-no”! By the way,PESCIOLINO means little fish.

  3. Marilyn Gentile

    That fish looked so delicious that I am going to cook some tonight. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    allora,pesciolino,pescolino! ah,the vero is in the cuoco
    (I like a bit of origano)

  5. John Jacobs

    I believe it is spelled “pesciolino” not pescolino. To get (pey-show-LEE-no) pronunciation you need an “i” after the “c”. As spelled in the article it would be pronounced pey-sko-LEE-no. Non e varo?

  6. Patrizia

    I’m a native Italian speaker, and yes, it would be spelled “pesciolino”. The “sc” says “sh”. Also, it’s “Non e’ VERO” with an e after the v and oregano is spelled with an e. Just sayin….

  7. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    Holy wow ! What was ment was what’s the big deal and I did not mean ‘not true’ but rather the real issue is in the cooking by the way Origano is correct in l’italiano

  8. humberto levrini

    what’s the difference how u proounceit -it’ the receipe -the smell,the aroma ,and the taste brings u to heavenly places -italian cooking-we have them all beat!!

  9. Karen Iacovetta

    This troubles me. The unique swordfish is threatened with extinction. Surely there are more plentiful fish that we can eat. It’s numbers are falling.

  10. Andrew DiLiddo

    I cannot find this word “pescolino” in any dictionary in Italiano nor the pronunciation as described above.

    • GB

      Hehehe.. right you are, it won’t be in any dictionary. “Pescolino” is my dyslexic spelling error! As for the phonetic pronunciation I typed, it is the correct pronunciation of the PROPERLY spelled word (and not of my mispelled one). Che vergogna!

  11. Michelle

    Mmmm, delicious. Pesciolone I would say! I’ll wash mine down with some cold Frascati…( Poggio Verde by Pallavicini is MY fave..)

  12. cinzia

    check spelling: it’s pesciolino, not pescolino, being the base noun pesce. Note the irony, wholly Roman: pesciolino = little fish, for a swordfish that is all but small!

    At any rate, enjoy! From the picture I can tell it was fresh


  13. Anyone know how the zucchini is made? The fish looks great but swordfish is extremely high in mercury.

    • GB

      Hi Annie,
      I simply cut the zucchini into pieces and sauteed them with some olive oil and a garlic clove (cut into bits). Enjoy!

  14. Gian Banchero

    Though this article was posted in 2012 and now it’s now 2015 in case someone is re-reading please note that this recipe for fish is really fantastic, the sauce goes with most any type of fish, I’ve made it about ten times since 2012 and enjoy it more each time. Be sure the zucchini are young and tender, a little on the small side.

    • GB

      Gian Banchero, I’m so glad to learn that the recipe from this note continues to be enjoyed!!
      It seems every time I prepare fish the “recipe” changes depending on what’s on hand… olives this time, capers next time, onion instead of garlic if the mood inspires, more lemon yesterday, more wine tomorrow, peperoncino or not, etc etc etc. Each meal an adventure!


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