Fragrant and flavorful with olives, capers and a light tomato sauce, Red Snapper Livornese is a seafood lover’s dream and may even make a few converts.

Red Snapper Livornese

A wonderfully pungent dish from Livorno on the western coast of Tuscany, Red Snapper Livornese, was a mainstay on my Father’s menu and one of the first recipes I ever posted to The Italian Chef over 15 years ago. This past weekend I saw some nice Red Snapper filets at the fish market which made me crave Livornese and I thought it was time to revisit this classic recipe. Also, I never was particularly fond of the photo on the post so this was a good opportunity to take some new pictures to share with you (I would like to think I have gotten better at taking food pictures over the years).

Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas Eve Dinner? Probably, but Red Snapper Livornese is the main course for my Christmas Eve fish dinner every year. We spend Christmas Eve with my wife, Sandy’s family. They are Portuguese and their tradition is to have octopus, something I can’t eat due to allergies. So, my first Christmas Eve dinner at my mother in-laws, I made a platter of Red Snapper Livornese to serve alongside the octopus. It was a big hit, and is now expected of me and we have been enjoying this hybrid Portuguese/Italian Christmas Eve fish dinner ever since.

This dish could also be one component in a traditional Feast of The Seven Fishes blowout, if you want some more ideas to go along with it, please check out my cousin Sal’s Christmas Eve Dinner menu.

red snapper livornese

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Red Snapper Livornese

Red Snapper Livornese Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 14 reviews

  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 12 gaetta olives or oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 4 Red Snapper fillets
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold the snapper fillets, over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the olives and capers and continue cooking until onion is translucent 3-5 minutes.
  3. Lay the red snapper fillets skin side down in the pan, and add the marinara sauce and white wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and place the pan in the oven.
  4. Bake in the oven until fish is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully transfer fish to serving plates, spoon sauce over fish and serve.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins

31 Responses

  1. Richard, sorry about that. I have been implementing a new recipe format that makes for easier printing, but I haven’t been able to go back and apply to all old recipes yet. Will be doing it in the future.

  2. My husband and I tried this and followed the recipe exactly. It is excellent…perfect summer meal ! Definetly 5 star worthy.

  3. This is just delicious. I have made it several times. Wouldn’t change a thing. At first I thought, marinara with fish? Sounds weird. It totally works with the snapper.

  4. Fantastic recipe. I am a big fan of garlic. Recommend roasting garlic and adding it to the sauce. YUM!!

  5. One of the very best fish entrees. Making it at home will allow a gentle marinara,not a sharp acrid kind. Restaurants are not always successful with the delicate taste.

    1. Cod loin works well with this recipe. Instead of marinara sauce, chop up 3 roma tomatoes and add to the onions with a few cloves of roasted garlic..

    2. Yes you can use different fish… livornese sauce is delicious … try with Baccala’ or fresh cod, you will love it.

  6. I gave this recipe a 3 star rating inly because there is nothing more annoying than missing directions. The ingredients say marinara sauce yet it doesn’t tell you at what point in the directions to add the marinara sauce to the onions olives and capers and then later it tells you just to pour the marinara sauce over the fish…..? Editing recipes is crucial.

    1. At the end when it says spoon sauce over the fish it means to spoon the sauce from the pan over. The marinara combined with the wine, onions, capers etc make a livornese sauce. Sorry if that was not clear. I will look and see if I can word it better. Thanks for the input.

  7. Our families are Sicilians we cook all of this, the fish and calamari is my favorites.. Sadly say over the all of my family have passed away, I moved to Tennessee and lol no red fis or calamari here!!

  8. Wonderful recipe! I used anchovy stuffed olives and the addition was perfect! The olives and capers add salt so not much salt is needed in addition to those. Next time, I will try add shrimp and possibly mussels for variety.

  9. This is terrific! One question; where can one buy really good capers. The ones in the grocery store seem somewhat tasteless. Also salt-packed or vinegar?

  10. I made the marinara sauce you provided on the link with fresh compari tomatoes and added that to the livornese. I used shallots instead of white onion. I also used kalmata olives. I live in Florida and bought the fresh red snapper from a local fish market whole- and they filleted it. Delicious!

    1. Mary I live in Fl also and used the same ingredients as you .(kalamata olives shallots, white onion) and got my snapper from a local seafood market! We loved it

  11. Great stuff.

    I have made it twice – really good.

    Question – what’s the best “dry white wine”? I used a cheap Savignon Blanc – wonder if it makes a difference?

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