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Top 3 Places for Calamari?

hiddenboston Jul 24, 2006 08:03 PM

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.

  1. cannedmilkandfruitypebbles Sep 17, 2008 05:49 AM

    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
      Buddernut Sep 17, 2008 08:05 AM

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

    2. Lorcasaur Apr 18, 2008 05:21 PM

      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. teresacooks Apr 18, 2008 01:56 PM

        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
          cannedmilkandfruitypebbles Sep 17, 2008 06:36 AM

          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. a
          autopi Apr 17, 2008 05:43 AM

          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. c
            cantab Apr 17, 2008 01:27 AM

            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. d
              DukeLavery Apr 15, 2008 07:57 AM

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

              2 Replies
              1. re: DukeLavery
                SecondHelper Apr 16, 2008 02:04 PM

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

                1. re: SecondHelper
                  joth68 Apr 18, 2008 11:56 AM

                  I'll second that.

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

              2. g
                ghostcat Apr 14, 2008 11:24 PM

                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. sfumato Apr 14, 2008 07:13 PM

                  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. g
                    Guinness02122 Apr 7, 2008 05:38 PM

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

                    1. h
                      heWho Apr 7, 2008 01:47 PM

                      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
                        EATTV Apr 7, 2008 05:25 PM

                        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. s
                        saltyair Apr 7, 2008 01:45 PM

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

                        1. p
                          phoebek Apr 6, 2008 04:12 PM

                          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
                            yumyum Apr 7, 2008 01:54 PM

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

                            1. re: yumyum
                              cassis Sep 17, 2008 05:51 AM

                              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. s
                            stringbean Apr 6, 2008 07:04 AM

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

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: stringbean
                              catsmeow Apr 6, 2008 07:13 AM

                              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. Angel Food Apr 5, 2008 07:12 AM

                              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
                                treb Apr 5, 2008 07:36 AM

                                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
                                  hiddenboston Apr 5, 2008 07:44 AM

                                  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
                                    treb Apr 5, 2008 07:50 AM

                                    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
                                      hiddenboston Apr 5, 2008 07:53 AM

                                      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
                                        treb Apr 5, 2008 08:04 AM

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

                              2. r
                                rosie17 Sep 25, 2007 08:46 AM

                                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. l
                                  lexpatti Sep 25, 2007 06:13 AM

                                  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. CocoDan Sep 25, 2007 06:04 AM

                                    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!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: CocoDan
                                      wittlejosh Sep 25, 2007 06:07 AM

                                      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. g
                                      G Fresh Sep 24, 2007 04:43 PM

                                      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
                                        ipsofatso Sep 24, 2007 06:44 PM

                                        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. s
                                        sforzando8 Sep 24, 2007 04:07 PM

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

                                        1. g
                                          gltsoi Sep 24, 2007 01:41 PM

                                          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
                                            cruzin023 Apr 7, 2008 09:10 PM

                                            Ditto for Sweet Basil and the portion is generous.

                                          2. kparke30 Sep 24, 2007 12:56 PM

                                            James Gate in JP

                                            1. g
                                              Gabatta Aug 11, 2006 04:43 PM

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

                                              1. hiddenboston Aug 11, 2006 03:51 PM

                                                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
                                                  sifsw Sep 24, 2007 01:55 PM

                                                  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. c
                                                  charlieg Jul 26, 2006 04:43 PM

                                                  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. k
                                                    kica915 Jul 26, 2006 03:15 PM

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

                                                    1. s
                                                      stomachofsteel Jul 26, 2006 11:40 AM

                                                      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. f
                                                        fascfoo Jul 26, 2006 03:11 AM

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


                                                        1. h
                                                          hargau Jul 25, 2006 04:15 PM

                                                          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!


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: hargau
                                                            Allstonian Jul 25, 2006 05:03 PM

                                                            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. MichaelB Jul 25, 2006 04:12 PM

                                                            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. hiddenboston Jul 25, 2006 04:06 PM

                                                              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. b
                                                                BJK Jul 25, 2006 04:00 PM

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


                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: BJK
                                                                  mangotango Apr 4, 2008 06:11 PM

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

                                                                  1. re: mangotango
                                                                    Cork Apr 15, 2008 12:04 PM

                                                                    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. 9
                                                                  9lives Jul 25, 2006 03:35 PM

                                                                  add a few more..

                                                                  squid with ginger and scallion at Peach Farm

                                                                  pad ki mow with squid at Khao Sarn or Dok Bua

                                                                  1. c
                                                                    CookingGirl Jul 25, 2006 03:31 PM

                                                                    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. Dax Jul 25, 2006 02:49 PM

                                                                      Cibo used to do fried calamari well.

                                                                      1. m
                                                                        mwk Jul 25, 2006 01:55 PM


                                                                        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. b
                                                                          Bostonbob3 Jul 25, 2006 01:41 PM

                                                                          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
                                                                            Allstonian Jul 25, 2006 01:47 PM

                                                                            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. o
                                                                            oodja Jul 25, 2006 01:23 PM

                                                                            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. Joanie Jul 25, 2006 11:08 AM

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

                                                                              1. c
                                                                                Chicky Jul 25, 2006 05:40 AM

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

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Chicky
                                                                                  Rubee Jul 25, 2006 05:04 PM

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

                                                                                2. MC Slim JB Jul 25, 2006 05:34 AM

                                                                                  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
                                                                                    Dax Jul 25, 2006 02:49 PM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      galleygirl Jul 25, 2006 04:04 PM

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

                                                                                      1. re: galleygirl
                                                                                        Dax Jul 25, 2006 07:07 PM

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

                                                                                        1. re: Dax
                                                                                          BJK Jul 25, 2006 07:56 PM

                                                                                          And how!


                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                      heathermb Apr 15, 2008 12:24 PM

                                                                                      I love the version at Best Little Restaurant

                                                                                    3. tatamagouche Jul 24, 2006 10:50 PM

                                                                                      Are we talking fried, or any style?

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                                        hiddenboston Jul 25, 2006 12:51 PM

                                                                                        I'd prefer fried...

                                                                                        1. re: hiddenboston
                                                                                          Infomaniac Jul 25, 2006 04:42 PM

                                                                                          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
                                                                                            emmie Jul 27, 2006 02:10 PM

                                                                                            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.

                                                                                      2. itaunas Jul 24, 2006 10:47 PM

                                                                                        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. Infomaniac Jul 24, 2006 08:11 PM

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

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