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Top 3 Places for Calamari?

I'm on a calamari kick these days. Had it at Louie's in Raynham (excellent), Dock and Dine in Old Saybrook, CT (very good), Lobster Tale in Brant Rock (almost perfect), the Aegean in Watertown (not bad), and several other places.

If you had to choose your top 3 places for calamari, what would they be? Price is no object, and they can be clam shacks, upscale restaurants, or anything in between.

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  1. Daily Catch - North End
    Peach Farm - Chinatown
    Sabur Restaurant - Somerville

    1. Daily Catch (preferred), Courthouse Seafood (quick fix), and Bistro5 with semolina crust when I want it different.

      North End feasts can also be excellent and its the right time of year.

      1. Are we talking fried, or any style?

        3 Replies
          1. re: hiddenboston

            I feel with fried calamari, you have to have a really good dipping sauce. I like the tomato anchovy sauce at Sabur in Somerville which really makes the dish. I'd be curious where else one might find a unique dipping sauce other than your standard marinara sauce.

            1. re: Infomaniac

              I agree that Sabur in Somerville has some of the best calamari around. The tomato anchovy sauce has capers and pepper in it and is an amazing alternative to a basic marinara. Plus, because they offer very little fried food, the oil is always clean, so the calamari is light and crispy. They also toss the calamari in fennel before bringing it out.

        1. I don't know if it holds up as well today as in my nostalgic memories of youth, but Jack's Family Restaurant in Warren, RI used to do fantastic local-style fried calamari (with hot pepper rings), as well as lovely fried smelts.

          I've had grilled calamari many times at the Franklin Cafe in Boston's South End, with a terrific smokey flavor. One more out of many reasons to patronize this great neighborhood bar with excellent food served till late. The long-gone Marcuccio's in the North End also did grilled calamari exceptionally well.

          The North End's Daily Catch is practically built around permutations of calamari, and famously offers squid-ink pasta; Pomodoro did fried and sauteed calamri dishes quite well at one time. I haven't been back to either of these in a while.

          A few places in Chinatown do reliable salt-and-pepper calamari, another preparation I favor, like Taiwan Cafe.

          5 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I had the S&P fried calamari at TC about two weeks ago and found it to be mostly bland. About the only boring thing (except the beer braised rabbit - I think it was called) that I have tried on their menu.

            1. re: Dax

              I find, in general, that Peach Farm has a better hand with the fryer than TC....

              1. re: galleygirl

                Well the S&P fried pork at TC is very good.

            2. re: MC Slim JB

              I love the version at Best Little Restaurant

            3. Billy Tse in REVERE makes a mean fried calamari w/ hot peppers.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chicky

                As does Billy Tse in the North End. Now I'm hungry again.

              2. Sonsie. And just had great fried calamari at Blu (as part of the 9-5 happy hour deal on weekdays).

                1. Summer Shack does a pretty faithful version of Rhode Island-style calamari as well -- "spicy and greasy", as the menu promises!

                  Up in Swampscott the Red Rock Cafe used to do a grilled sausage-stuffed calamari that was absolutely sublime. Their menu tends to change quite frequently, however, so I'm not sure if they're still offering that.

                  1. I live in the North End, and have had many wonderful calamari dishes (as several people have noted, Daily Catch does it well). But my FAVORITE calamari in Boston is at Jumbo Seafood, Chinatown. I think it's called Salt & Pepper Calamari, or Calamari with Salted Pepper, or something like that. It's just amazing. Perfectly cooked, sprinkled with coarse sea salt and a generous dose of pepper, and topped with fiery chilis, it's a must-eat dish.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bostonbob3

                      Ooh, yes! We had that the last time we ate at Jumbo, kind of on a whim because I'd been craving calamari, and it was the high point of an excellent meal.

                    2. Hi,

                      Traditionally, the Daily Catch has been my favorite. The other places where I've enjoyed fried calamari are at Peach Farm in chinatown (salt and pepper squid, I think it's called), and McCormick and Schmick's. They have an excellent fried calamari with three dipping sauces. It was sweet, tender, crispy and flavorful. Definitely a good way to start off the meal.

                      1. Cibo used to do fried calamari well.

                        1. Haven't had it in awhile, but Sweet Basil in Needham. The portion was huge (like everything else there) and in fact the rings were huge as well, which gave me pause. But they were the most tender calamari I've ever had. We asked the chef about it, and he said just simply soaking it in milk before frying it. The batter was light in both taste and color.

                          1. add a few more..

                            squid with ginger and scallion at Peach Farm

                            pad ki mow with squid at Khao Sarn or Dok Bua

                            1. Many good recommendations so far, though allow me to add Greek Corner on Mass Ave in North Cambridge. Surprisingly good.

                              :)
                              BK

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: BJK

                                Must agree... Greek Corner, nice casual place for some yummy calamari. I ask for it over Greek Salad-- delish!

                                1. re: mangotango

                                  Surprisingly some of the best fried calmari I've had is at the Greek Corner. We get the appetizer plate as a main course for our 5 year old son who loves them!!

                              2. Greek Corner? Wow, who knew. I can never get past the grape leaves and pastitso there. Maybe next time I'll give the calamari a try.

                                A friend of mine who eats a ton of seafood told me last night that the best calamari is at Angelica's in Middleton. Has anyone tried it there?

                                1. Lots of great recs -- definitely concur on Peach Farm -- their salt and pepper squid is also great. (Haven't tried it at Jumbo, though that sounds similarly wonderful.)

                                  Years ago I had really superb fried squid at Baraka Cafe in Cambridge. It's breaded with chickpea flour, so the crunchy coating is extra-savory. Really great and worth seeking out.

                                  1. I really like the fried calamari at Hei La Moon on the dimsum carts. NOT the version on the menu, totally different.

                                    The stuff on the carts are all small tentacles, no rings. I love the tentacles!

                                    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/25...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: hargau

                                      Good to know - I still haven't made it to Hei La Moon for dim sum, and I love the tentacles, too. (What I like best is just a plate of mixed bits, and I'm always kind of disappointed that so many places only serve the rings.)

                                    2. I'm a NYer who visited Boston a couple of weekends ago and had a fantastic fried calamari brunch at Temple in Cambridge. Delish!

                                      http://www.templebarcambridge.com/cui...

                                      1. The Chateau in Waltham actually has excellent RI-style calamari. I know not everyone around here has respect for The Chateau -- it is what it is, but the calamari is some of the best I've had.

                                        1. I love the calamari at Giacomos (N/S End)The peppers are plenty and it's been consistantly good.

                                          1. This is one of my favorite foods. Jumbo Seafood's Salt and Pepper Squid is excellent. Two other good ones are at Taberna De Haro in Brookline and Stone's Public House in Ashland. The Stone's version is Rhode Island style with hot peppers, served in a paper-lined basket. A huge "appetizer" that is easily a meal.

                                            1. That's about the third time I've heard of the Jumbo having good calamari. I'll have to try it one of these days.

                                              I love everything I've had at Giacomo's, but oddly enough, calamari is about the only thing I haven't ordered there. Another place to go for it. Thanks!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: hiddenboston

                                                I'll third Giacomo's. A friend of mine used to live here but now works as a chef in Oregon. When he visits Boston, he makes a point of going to Giacomo's for the calamari.
                                                I've also enjoyed the calamari at Silvertone.

                                              2. The calamari with hot peppers at the Capital Grill is outstanding.

                                                  1. 1. Daily Catch
                                                    2. salt and pepper calamari at Bernard's in the Chestnut mall (don't laugh, it's tasty)
                                                    3. Sweet Basil

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: gltsoi

                                                      Ditto for Sweet Basil and the portion is generous.

                                                    2. Kingfish Hall. To die for. Worth it even if the rest of your meal stinks, I swear!

                                                      1. The Thai style calamari appetizer at Legal Seafood is very infectious and I love it.
                                                        The salt and pepper calamari at any Chinese restaurant that knows how to do it.
                                                        Something with a cornmeal batter and marinara sauce at an Italian restaurant.

                                                        Can't focus on these last two cause I'm sooo hungry for calamari... Yeow!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: G Fresh

                                                          I was GOING to add the Thai Style at Legals!!! Excellent! and I conned the kitchen into letting me in on the sauce secret....outstanding.

                                                        2. My current favorite for fried is Teatro, really (can't believe I'm saying that)! If you want mouthwatering sauteed, then got to Mezzo Mare in Hull/Nantasket. You will dip the bread in the juice until it's gone. WOW!
                                                          Enjoy,
                                                          CocoDan

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: CocoDan

                                                            B&G does textbook-perfect, tender, crisp, with lemon aioli (maybe the sauce has changed).

                                                            Another favorite: Penang, that Malaysian chain restaurant (I go to the Theater District location). Served with raw onions and hot green peppers and some sort of dried spice. It's one of my favorite dishes there.

                                                            I tend to stay away from Summer Shack, but their Rhode Island-style calamari is unusually good. Similar to Capital Grille's version (that's a Providence-based chain, BTW).

                                                          2. Love this thread, I do too love Calamari, thanks. But if you are in the Lakes Region in NH head to The Corner House Inn in Ctr. Sandwich - BEST Calamari. they have a sauce that I can't seem to find anywhere - might be garlic oil/japanese mayo/Sriracha sauce but lightly over the lightly fried calamari or just get the sauce on the side to dip. mmmmm, now I have to get some soon.

                                                            1. Hmmm... I don't have 3, only 2. Definitely Cibo in the North End. Superbly fried, I guess it was RI-syle with the cherry peppers. I never cared for calamari before I tried theirs, and it made a believer out of me! the breading was perfection.
                                                              Also, I only had it once but Coda's on Columbus was pretty darn good when I had it.

                                                              1. Had a great fried calamari last weekend at Bocado in Worcester - with parsley, lemon, garlic & orange horseradish cream. I can usually take or leave calamari, but really enjoyed this. The calamari was perfectly fried and tender, and the sauce was really interesting and gave it a great kick.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: Angel Food

                                                                  Hope I don't get dissed here... but, I like the calamari at the 99 served with spicey pickled pepper slices, also the calamari plate at the Causway in Gloucester, lastly the app. at the Capital Grille.

                                                                  1. re: treb

                                                                    The 99? What the.....?! ;-b

                                                                    Actually, I'm not surprised. The 99 does have some good dishes, including the chili and the burgers. I'll have to try the calamari next time I go there. BTW, it the Causeway open full hours this time of year?

                                                                    1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                      The Causway is open year-round, last time I went, about 2 months ago the calamari plate was $9.99, they also had smelts... YUM!

                                                                      You should try the 99 if you in a pinch, I was really surprised about the calamari, I ordered it because nothing else was jumping out at me from the menu that day.

                                                                      1. re: treb

                                                                        Call me crazy, but I really did shed a tear when they closed the 99 at Fresh Pond. I cant tell you how many nights I spent there watching the Bruins or the Sox on TV while eating chili and drinking beer at the bar. I miss the place a lot.

                                                                        1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                          I spent many a day there when it was the Ground Round.

                                                                2. 1.) Farnhams in Essex
                                                                  2.) The Village in Essex
                                                                  3.) Ristorante Molise in Wakefield

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: stringbean

                                                                    My favorite calamari is any dish with it at Daily Catch. My all time favorite was the stuffed calamari at Frank's in Norwood before they closed. It was stuffed with a seafood bread crumb stuffing and had a very lemony butter sauce. Does anyone know where I can find something similar?

                                                                  2. My current favorite is the grilled calamari at Gran Gusto in Cambridge. Lightly grilled so the smoky flavor doesn't overpower, and served with mushrooms in a lemony dressing that's perfect for being sopped up with the delicious bread they serve. . .

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: phoebek

                                                                      Second this. Had it the other night and loved it so much I wanted to lick the plate.

                                                                      1. re: yumyum

                                                                        Third this. Had it a week ago, who would have thought squid with mushrooms...? but the body pieces, not rings but large slices of body, were a little too chewy. HOWEVER, even more delicious is the calamari appetizer they serve at lunchtime--tiny tender sauteed, not grilled, calamari rings and tentacles with parsley, a few scraps of red pepper, bathed in a perfectly balanced lemon/olive oil dressing. I way prefer these preparations to deep fried.

                                                                    2. I LOVE the calamari at Lucca in North End. Nice and spicy. Not fried!

                                                                      1. While I hate drudging up old threads...

                                                                        I have to say, my new favorite fried squid dish in Boston is the "CRISPY GOLDEN FRIED SQUID" at Penang. It's dipped in great, spicey batter, perfectly fried without being over-crisp and the squid I had was nice and tender. I got it take out, but I've heard it's served in a bowl of lotus root if you dine in. Try this dish!!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: heWho

                                                                          The Daily Catch holds tons of memories. The old place out on the pier was the best. Perfectly fried and delivered in the skillet, extinguished with the squeeze of a lemon and maybe a big dash of tabasco. Do one thing well...careful the pan is hot.

                                                                          So if you were gonna learn to cook squid right you might work for years at famous friolators like Legal and The Daily Catch till you'd perfected your dredging and knew your oil. Such tasty rings and tentacles are worth the trip to The Village Fish in Needham where Chef Jacobs is a culinary blacksmith working the oil and live fire like a fish forge. The calamari is just right.

                                                                          I'd also recommend the Calamari at B&G. A lighter preparation goes perfectly with a dozen oysters and a nice crisp Gruner Vertliner.

                                                                        2. Peach Farm and Jumbo Seafood are the best. Hard to pick a clear winner.

                                                                          1. Daily Catch in the North End, hands down. That's where I learned to love love love calamari as a picky non-fish-eating kid (I've since seen the light, thankfully)!

                                                                            I did have fabulous calamari at La Casa de Pedro (www.lacasadepedro.com) in Watertown recently... really fresh, perfectly fried, gorgeously spicy and and well-seasoned. I'd absolutely order it again.

                                                                            1. If you're looking for another opinion, and I do read these things kind of late, I agree with who ever said that Teatro has the best fried calimari in town. The problem with most fried calimari is that if you don't share it, but the time you get to the end of it, it's cold and not nearly as much fun to eat. The Daily Catch on Fan Pier is also very good, and oddly enough, the dipping sauce that Durgin-Park is one of the better ones.

                                                                              1. Saraceno on Hanover Street. Perfect batter and Chef Joe's sauce is the best you'll ever dip into.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: DukeLavery

                                                                                  I recently had the calamari @ the Good Life on Kingston St., Boston. Spicy as all get out and delicious. Highly recommended.

                                                                                  1. re: SecondHelper

                                                                                    I'll second that.

                                                                                    I was also very impressed with kingston station's calimari across the street.

                                                                                2. The "Taverns" in Central and Porter Sq have a dinner sized entree with peppers.
                                                                                  BTW Also try their lettuce wrapped Thai dish and their incredible Chicken Pot Pie.

                                                                                  1. well one place for sure *not* to go for fried calamari is the alchemist in jp. ugh--small pieces, smothered in peppers, feta, olives, soggy, salty and very little actual calamari. the food in that place really leaves something to be desired.

                                                                                    1. my kids had fried calamari at the cottonwood cafe on tuesday and it was good. The batter was a little too cornmeal for my taste - but still quite good. tender squid and a good ancho pepper dipping sauce, it also came with one more sauce but it was way down the table and I didn't try it. The best calamari I have had around was at a place on the harbor in Plymouth. . . the name of which is escaping me. sorry.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: teresacooks

                                                                                        In Plymouth, my bet is that you are thinking of Wood's Seafood. Just a small take out place that serves very fresh seafood. You could also be thinking of The Lobster Hut or East Bay Grill but my guess is that if you enjoyed it that much, it was probably Woods.

                                                                                      2. I'm such a calamari fan at this point that I think it's a shame to fry it (although, as with most fried stuff, it's still REALLY good). My favorite calamari is at Atasca in Cambridge. Sauteed (I assume), super garlicky, and with yummy polenta croutons on top. It's a small plate (my favorite way to eat there) but I don't remember what it's called -- I think there's only one calamari small plate on the menu, but if not, the polenta croutons give it away. And SAVE SOME BREAD. The sauce is delicious!!

                                                                                        1. Saw this old thread pop up and I have an opinion.
                                                                                          The best fried clamari i've had is at 224 Boston Street in Dorchester. It has a good fry on it, is tossed with lemon, grape tomatoes, calamata olives, and aruguala. It's an unusually, and untraditionallly, delicious version. The food at this place is always hit or miss but the calamari alone is worth a visit. I've always liked the cramped atmosphere as well; it deeply disturbes others.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                                                                                            Sound like great calimari.... but bam-bam........ you've got a great moniker!