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Aug 31, 2009 02:05 PM

Whole Belly (Ipswich) Fried Clams

Just returned from a Maine vacation. Had Clam Shack clams--good. On the way back to Long Island, however, I had to detour to Essex and try Woodman's. Fugedabbouddit. Woodman's beats everything I've had in years. I'm sure there are places as good on the Cape, but seriously doubt there are any better. I just have to find something within reasonable distance to the North Shore of Long Island. I can't be driving to Essex. Probably a good thing, I guess, that these things are rather expensive, fattening and most of all--far away. Or else I'd be eating them like M&M's. Now that my search for the best fried whole bellies is over, I can relax. They're not on Long Island. Bigelow's blows and Legal is a joke. They're not in Westchester County or southern Connecticut. There's a place in Westport that was passable, but really only a few degrees above Bigelow's, and certainly not worth the drive from Long Island. So........I can live with the notion that if I really want 'em, I'll have to order shucked piss clams online and shipped and either buy the kit or learn Woodman's ratio of cornmeal to flour and spice selection. to the cape. Maybe I'll save that trip for when I'm super rich and have a seaplane that I can fly from here to Woods Hole. Then I woke up.

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  1. Try Sam The Clams to go they have great fried clams
    Sam The Clam Pub & Grub

    (860) 621-0522

    1303 Meriden Waterbury Tpke
    Plantsville, CT 06479

    1. Woodman's should be good. Chubby Woodman invented the fried clam.


      1 Reply
      1. You may want to give Popeis in Bethpage a shot. I have had pretty good fried oysters there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: phantomdoc

          Thanks, phantomdoc. I'm a complete fool for fried oysters as well, but in this case, specific reference to the Ipswich fried clam (whole belly). And, unlike most Long Island/Westchester methods (thanks to probably a mostly Italian influence) what I'm looking for is decidedly NOT breaded with bread crumbs, but a seasoned mixture of corn flour (masa) and wheat flour. I'm going to give Popeis a shot though because after looking at the menu, it looks like good "Island" seafood fare, so thanks for that. Unfortunately, it's not going to be so easy to find a whole belly, with which anyone on Long Island seems to know what to do. I've been searching for years--almost to the point that I'm actually considering opening a place. I just don't know if it would go over down here. It's like New England chowder doesn't really go over so well in NYC restaurants. I'm not saying a good one wouldn't, but who knows? Frankly, most of the chowder in New England these days seems to be testament to it being an almost lost art. While I loved the whole bellies at Woodman's, their chowder was just nothing. Most of the chowder I had on this last run through N.E. wasn't much to write home about. I'm sure there's good chowder out there, though, and I'm hoping you guys will reply to this and list the places.

          1. re: Clambelly

            Give them a call and ask if they will do the clams as you request. Their catering menu shows a 1/2 tray of fried clams for $40. Other place that was recommended in another thread charges over $20 for an order. I live close by and will split it with you.

            1. re: phantomdoc

              Wednesday they have a special. All you want to eat:

              Fried clam strips $16.99
              Fried whole clams $18.99
              I have not had the clams there but they seem to be busy so I would assume high volume means high turnover and high quality.

        2. You're right--Woodman's is king. For excellent fried whole belly clams _slightly_ closer to home, head up to Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale in Westbrook and Madison, CT. (They also have great hot lobster rolls served with a side of butter). We often head up there to do outlet shopping at Clinton Corners & Tangers Outlets, and have both lunch AND dinner at Lenny & Joe's. Their tartar sauce, btw, is the best I've had.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. Hey Ricktheclambellyfan!

              If you live on Long Island and love clams you have to go here atleast once:

              BIGELOW'S , 79 N. Long Beach Rd., Rockville Centre, 516-678-3878,

              They are top notch, counter service only, really old school, cash only, but they do have an ATM.


              1. re: dougnash

                Oh ya Bigelows has been famous for their ipswich clams since 1939 and still uses the same recipe...

                1. re: dougnash

                  It may use the same recipe since 1939, but they need a better recipe! hahahaha. What crap. The french fries are crappy little cold shoestrings, the cole slaw is slimy. I have no use for the place.

                  1. re: Clambelly

                    Well, I don't mean to be obnoxious. I know I've been beating this topic to death over the past couple of years, but I felt the need to update--after all, it's been nearly 3 years since the last post on the subject of WBCs. I want to be fair, so I'm going to admit that my addiction has taken me back to Bigelow's a couple of time, and I'm happy to report that it was better both times. The french fries are decidedly better, although I usually don't bother with them (um, I can get good fries almost anywhere). The clams, though, were better, though still not in the league with Essex, Farnham's or Woodman's, but then, we Long Island beggars can't be choosy can we?

                    1. re: Clambelly

                      Clambelly, sounds like you have pretty good info on fried clams.. I grew up 2 miles from Woodman's and learned to make fried clams as a high school kid at several restaurants nearby which all used the same method as Chubby. A couple of thoughts:
                      1. I think you have found most of the best places: Woodman's is great, Farnham's is my favorite because of the gourgeous view from the picnic tables, but the Clam Box in Ipswich might be your best spot if you don't want to drive so far from Int. 95 on your trips north. I did not see you mention that and they often claim the local title for "best." All 3 are kings.
                      2. Now that I live in NY (Westchester), I have been on a similar quest for years, it's such a joke that nobody can get it right in NYC, but it is also largely dependant on the distribution of the clams which are not necessarily from Ipswich and Essex flats, but they are distributed by "Ipswich Shellfish Co."


                      They have a distribution point in CT (Branford) and that area is the closest to us for decent fried clams. Someone above mentioned "Joe & Lenny's", they have two locations, one in lovely Madison, CT right across from Hammonassett SP Beach, you might even think you are in Essex. They serve RI style chowder, but nobody's perfect. I include Madison, right off 95, on my year round trips north/Cape, when I can.

                      3. I am particularly sad that your local Legal Sea Foods is not serving good fried clams, not sure what store you go to, but the one in White Plains, NY does a decent job usually. You might talk to the manager and ask them to look into it. I know from experience that if the kid working the fri-o-later does not know what he is doing, then they are going to be messed up. There lots of ways to mess up fried clams, but Legal should have the ingredients and tools of the trade to make decent clams. I travel to Boston quite a bit, and their local Boston locations get high marks. When I don't have time to go to the North Shore, I will go there. Their clam chowder should be very good, if not, whatever store you are going to is very messed up.

                      Not to change the subject, but fried clams are one of two foods, NY can't seem to get right. There is a style of roast beef sandwich, also from the North Shore of Boston, which is amazingly simple and tasty. Hot, thinly sliced on hamburg buns, you can add to it with cheese or bbq sauces, but it is so good plain with salt and pepper. Not far from Woodman's in North Beverly, MA is "Nick's Roast Beef." "Kelly's Roast Beef" which started on Revere Beach has become a large chain...they have good fried clams, chowder, onion rings, plus the roast beef sandwiches and I give them an A- for each, and an A+ for putting them under one roof. I have posted here many times about the sandwiches, can't seem to find them within 200 miles.