Gourmet Traveller

Catch of the day

Five centuries on, Maria echoes Scappi’s words. “If fish isn’t fresh, alive even, I send it back to the harbour. I wouldn’t even give it to the cat.”

Housed on the ground floor of an anonymous building in an anonymous suburb of the fishing port of Fano in Italy’s Marche region, Maria Tena’s brilliant seafood restaurant, unimaginatively named Da Maria, doesn’t look like a restaurant at all. Outside, the only clue to its identity is a nondescript sign over the door saying “Bar Trattoria – Pesce Fresco.” If it weren’t cluttered with the esoteric wood, glass and metal sculptures of Maria’s daughter, Domenica, the interior – a single room with pink-and-white-tiled walls, a few tables and a bar counter – would be no less modest. The place seems an unlikely sanctuary for a piscine pilgrimage but I, like other devotees, make a point of

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