The Search for Seafood in Prague
Despite the fact that fried carp is the Christmas meal, the Czechs do not consume much fish. However, in recent years, restaurants have started offering more local freshwater and imported seafood dishes.
The Michelin-Guide recommended restaurant in Prague 2 may be outside of the center, but is well known among locals for its impeccable quality. Miroslav Grusz is Czech but has been trained in the art of Italian cuisine. As the head chef of the restaurant, he has created a menu that allows diners to put some thought and choice into their dining experience. Diners can choose from a lower price point al a carte menu, or choose from the selection of fresh fish. The al a carte menu includes Italian favorites such as risotto, fresh pasta, and veal. The restaurant specializes in whole fish, so after I was seated, I was presented with a large platter of the daily catch. Sea bass, monk fish, and sea bream were just a few to note, and they released a pleasant aroma of the saltwater sea. The waiter was extensively trained in seafood talk, and presented each fish with great mastery, explaining where it is from, how many people it will feed, and how it would best be prepared. The fish gets flown in 5 days a week, and is mostly sourced from Italy, while some specialty fish does come from Greece and Croatia. Shellfish, including the restaurant’s famed scampi and lobster, comes in from the south of France three days a week. The chef explains how their supply can sometimes be interrupted by other nation’s holidays or weather, and during this week in particular, the lobster will have to wait until Wednesday because of the French holiday Whit Monday.
Aromi’s large dining room exudes comfortable luxury. Dark wood and brick line the restaurant, conveying a warmth unlike other fine dining restaurants. The wine selection is quite extensive, but a knowledgeable waiter suggests a reizling-chardonay mix that is yellow in color and bold on my palate. Since I was dining alone, I wasn’t quite hungry enough to indulge in a whole fish at the time, and I decided to leave my fate in the hands of the chef to create a seafood medley tasting of my very own. I am presented with the antipasto seafood sampler. Cuttle fish in black squid ink, shrimp with bulgar, scallop carpaccio with salicornia, and tuna tagliata with mozzarella cream. Each sample was simply executed, and beautifully accompanied its neighbor. The freshness of each fish shined through, so there wasn’t any need for citrus or acid to add an extra bite. After the sampler, a lemon sorbet cleansed my palate as I prepared for my next course. Since asparagus is in season, the restaurant highlights the vegetable in ricotta and asparagus ravioli, garnished with slivers of sea asparagus and pork cheek. Next, a seafood spaghetti with shrimps, scallops, calamari, and caciucco. All of the dishes were beautifully done, and the chocolate lava cake with passionfruit sorbet that came to follow was the perfect ending to the meal.
Success in the seafood restaurant business in a landlocked country can be a difficult endeavor, but many Czechs are now willing to spend a little extra when the craving erupts. Aromi has been successfully supplying seafood to Prague for 10 years, and while it may require some extra coordination in order to source the fresh goods, Czechs, and expats like myself certainly appreciate the hard work and dedication.