They are, in fact, an Italian version of that near universal dish: steamed mussels.
I like the conviviality of this dish—serve your large pot of mussels in the center of the table and let each diner serve themselves a nice portion of mussels and liquor. You can eat it by grabbing a mussel shell gingerly with your left hand while removing the mussel with a fork or a spoon. (I prefer a spoon, because you can immerse the mussel in some of the sauce before you eat it for maximum flavor.) Make sure to have an extra bowl at table for discarded shells.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a secondo, 6 as an antipasto)
To pre-cook the mussels:
1 bag of mussels
A splash of white wine (say about 1/2 cup)
For the soffritto and final cooking:
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 peperoncini, chopped and seeds removed(or a dash of red pepper flakes)
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Click for directions