HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >

Best calamari?

shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 10:31 AM

I love great, fried calamari...in your experiences, where has the best been for you? Unusually so, I really like Ranalli's on Clark! I hated it at Hugo's though.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. nsxtasy RE: shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 10:34 AM

    The absolute best calamari I have ever had in my life was *grilled* calamari, perfectly cooked and absolutely tender and moist, at

    Bella Bacino of LaGrange
    36 S. La Grange Rd.
    La Grange IL 60525
    (708) 352-8882

    It's Bacin's (Bacino's) upscale Italian restaurant (not just pizza) and it's worth the drive out there from the city. All the food is excellent but especially the wonderful calamari.

    1. c
      carlywood RE: shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 10:35 AM

      This may sound kind of lame b/c they are a chain, but Maggiano's dishes up some great fried calamari.

      1. t
        tigerbitesman RE: shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 10:41 AM

        Pheonix in chinatown has exceptional calamari at dinner, not on their dim sum lunch menu though. It has a well balanced batter and the calamari was cut to an ideal thickness and fried at the proper temperature to not be greasy, so good!

        1 Reply
        1. re: tigerbitesman
          hemingwayscat RE: tigerbitesman Mar 14, 2007 11:32 AM

          I absolutely agree! I would order Phoenix's calamari every time I'm in Chinatown, if I could. They give you a large serving (for an appetizer) and season the dish beautifully, with just enough pepper to make it interesting. It was crunchy and light on the grease as well.

        2. s
          SuzMiCo RE: shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 11:12 AM

          Every time I've had the fried calamari at McCormick & Scmick's it's been perfectly cooked (not a chewy bite in the whole dish) and they serve it with three different sauces, all are really good. There's a traditional cocktail sauce, a modified tartar sauce, and some kind of mayo which was the best of the three, but the flavoring escapes me.

          1. s
            shu.girl RE: shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 11:33 AM

            Thanks so much, I will be sure to try them, may even convince my fiance to head out to the burbs! Thanks for the recommendations!

            1. chigirl71 RE: shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 12:46 PM

              O'fame on Webster has awesome fried calamari.

              4 Replies
              1. re: chigirl71
                aelph RE: chigirl71 Mar 14, 2007 02:50 PM

                Man...O'Fame has my favorite thin crust, but be careful not to order their calamari for delivery; I learned this the hard way...when the(very generous) portion arrived it was a gloppy, lukewarm mess...they'd steamed in the container. Funnily enough...you can order fried calamari and have it arrive relatively-crispy...from other places.

                Also, O'Fame uses thicker pieces of calamari which may or may not be to your liking. If my delivery portion hadn't been ruined by poor packaging (and possible understaffing...I think it sat for awhile) I could've appreciated that these larger chunks were perfectly-cooked...me, I prefer a smaller cut to pair well with a light batter.

                1. re: aelph
                  shu.girl RE: aelph Mar 14, 2007 02:52 PM

                  I know all too well what delivery calamari is like....it's with hit or miss, most of the time miss. It turns soggy indeed. Where is a good place that delivers is crispy??

                  1. re: shu.girl
                    aelph RE: shu.girl Mar 14, 2007 03:03 PM

                    I forgot to add a few of my favorites. For dine-in fried calamari I've enjoyed Goose Island and PJ Clarkes. For delivery I've had generally good luck with Leona's...but, it depends on which restaurant and what packaging they've decided to use...when it's good it's very good(and still pretty crispy) when it's an off day...like it was when I ordered last weekend...it's not bad, per se, but blah...

                    I *did* notice (at least I think) that this last order they've been monkeying with the batter recipe...they're working off a new menu...it was kinda damp(not soggy) kinda...eh...

                    so...caveat emptor

                  2. re: aelph
                    chigirl71 RE: aelph Mar 14, 2007 05:04 PM

                    I've never had good carry-out/delivery fried calamari it always is a gloppy, greasy mess. You're right they do use thicker pieces of calamari, which is how I like it. . .I like the "legs" there too. GREAT thin crust pizza.

                2. m
                  MikeLM RE: shu.girl Mar 15, 2007 10:52 PM

                  Most any fried delicacy dosen't travel well at all. You've really gotta eat it in-house for the crunch that makes the artery-clogging worth the experience.

                  Really excellent calamari can be had - in-house - at Pappadoux Cajun-themed restaurant in Westmont. On the west side of Route 83 and north of Ogden Avenue.

                  Speaking of fried- they make the best onion rings in the known universe. We sit at the bar for lunch, have the calamari, onion rings, and the Greek Salad for a marvelous meal. They frequently have 1/2-off deals for the bar/lunch appetizers. Great way to have lunch.


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: MikeLM
                    wineaux RE: MikeLM Mar 16, 2007 08:03 AM

                    I would ditto the recommendation for Pappadeaux. I've consumed so much calamari from coast to coast and found the best to be right here in our neck of the woods. Light batter, not greasy, generous tender pieces of calamari. And yes, they have all of their appetizers 1/2 off from 3-6 in the bar area only (I think it's only Monday - Friday).

                    1. re: wineaux
                      nsxtasy RE: wineaux Mar 16, 2007 09:11 AM

                      Are you also speaking of their Westmont location? Can anyone verify whether the calamari is equally good at their Arlington Heights location? (I've been there numerous times, but haven't had their calamari.)

                      BTW, Pappadeaux is a national chain, so if it's good, theirs might be good "coast to coast"... ;)


                      1. re: nsxtasy
                        wineaux RE: nsxtasy Mar 16, 2007 12:19 PM

                        Yes, the Westmont location... not sure if the Arlington Heights location has the same 'happy hour' offer or if the calamari is equally good.

                    2. re: MikeLM
                      MikeLM RE: MikeLM Mar 20, 2007 08:06 PM

                      The Pappas chain - not franchises - is a really remarkable restaurant empire. They started, I believe, in the 1920's iwith a Greek greasy spoon in Dallas (it might have been Houston). I saw a picture of three or four young Greeks, in aprons, behind a counter at a small restaurant, in one of their Houston locations.

                      They have six or eight restaurant themes - Pappadoux, Cajun; Pappasito, Tex-Mex; Pappas BBQ; Pappas Steak House; Pappas Seafood; Pappas Burger; Pappas Grill; and Yia-Yia Mary, a Greek-themed restaurant. (Yia-Yia is Grandmother, in Greek.)

                      I haven't been to all, but to quite a lot (mostly in Houston), and the quality control is simply fantastic. I have only once had a problem with a dish: the order of onion rings wasn't hot. It was quickly fiixed.

                      The food is uniformly great, and the really impressive thing is their managerial and training competence!


                    3. c
                      Chicago Mike RE: shu.girl Mar 15, 2007 11:05 PM

                      I can give you two new recommendations not mentioned here:

                      1) The "charcoal grilled squid" appetizer at TAC QUick is incredible. and a great lead-in to their other tasty dishes.

                      2) Pizza Capri at Belmont & Sheffield does calimari three ways; Grilled, Fried, or Stewed... very consistent and highly recommended.

                      1. s
                        sue kelly RE: shu.girl Mar 17, 2007 11:28 AM

                        Best Calimari -Francesca's on Taylor street and believe it or not Operaon Wabash. The server told me if I didnt like theirs as much as Francesca's i didnt have to pay for it. He was right. Just as good.

                        1. e
                          ems RE: shu.girl Mar 17, 2007 03:18 PM

                          Keefer's and Capital Grill have great fried calimari. Capital Grill's includes some red peppers so it is a little spicy.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ems
                            YoYoPedro RE: ems Mar 21, 2007 04:09 PM

                            Ditto on the Capital Grille version with the peppers/giardiniera on it. Mmmmmm... Getting a Jones for it. Maybe lunch tomorrow.

                          Show Hidden Posts