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Sep 5, 2009 10:14 AM

Fried Calamari in R.I.

One thing in R.I. we have some great fresh squid caught in R.I. waters. Yet I cannot find out who came up with the hot vinegar peppers garlic on hot crisp squid. All you can taste is vinegar and peppers. Only in R.I. can they ruin fresh seafood like that. All over Italy they serve it with just fresh lemon and in some cases a little marinaria sauce. Once I went to Capitol Grill, someone in the party ordered it it was pricy but that wasnt the point. Out came this fried mass glued together and it floated in a vinegar solution. Approx 2 pounds of it we could have fed some poor homeless people. Seems like the Hot Weiner still rules in R.I. Thank got they have not ruined it.

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    1. I've had the fried calamari at several Capitol Grilles (including in Milwaukee) and it's never looked like that.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bob W


        Well thats the way they served it a long time ago. when a vinegar mixture is put on a oil froed item it pulls the fat out and made it soggy. I am glad you had better luck. But there is no such thing as a bad night in a restaurant. Been in the business too long. Plus where does the vinegar pepper dressing come in.

      2. Calamari is what I consider to be a "barometer" dish. If the kitchen can do right by the calamari, the rest of the meal should be good. If a plate full of deep fried O-rings come out, then I know to order a burger cooked somewhere between medium well and hockey puck.

        8 Replies
        1. re: RI Swampyankee

          When did calamari become such a "beloved" RI signature dish? I remember snail salad once holding that honor....every place you visited had their version on the menu. To put it all in perspective everything tastes great if it's fresh and prepared well. I don't like calamari with the vinegar peppers dumped on top...Mike's Kitchen serves them on the side so that the delicate flavor of the squid can be appreciated...a little lemon is all I need.

          1. re: colby54

            I agree with colby54 calamari is a recent last 10 years or so phenom and its way too greasy in many places.

            1. re: lawmer


              some of them tasted and looked like Garden Hose Like pieces fried and swimming in hot peppers and vinegar.Capitol Grill is one of the worst eaten.

              1. re: lawmer

                10 years or so phenom? You either just moved to RI 10yrs ago or your 12 years old. Fried Calamari has been a RI restaurant staple for well over 35 years Im 40 so I can only remember the first time I had fried Calamari it was at Micheletti's restaurant which used to be located behind Finest Car Wash across for Coca Cola off Promenade. Old Canteen, Antonios, Blue Grotto, Twin Oaks the list goes on. Fried Calamari is in no way a new phenom in RI. That being said. Whiskey Pub in Providence has taken the old Atomic Grille recipe light crispy batter served with sides of lemon, pepperocini, and Chipotle Aioli never topped with only served with. It's Fantastic.

              2. re: colby54

                Mike's makes a nice snail salad too. But I must express mild disagreement with snail salad ever being a "beloved" RI dish. I think it's always been more of a "yeah it's weird but we like to eat it once in a while" RI dish.

                1. re: Bob W

                  I agree that neither snail salad back in the day nor calamari should be "beloved".... just seems to prevail on restaurant menus then and now...don't recall calamari being really popular in the 70's...perhaps it was...

                  1. re: colby54

                    Your memory is good, Colby. We never ate squid in the 70s -- and we certainly didn't call it calamari!

                    When it comes to accompaniments, I too favor a simple squeeze of lemon juice, but I do love the "RI style" hot peppers too. Not a big fan of marinara sauce for dipping fried squid; remoulade-type sauces seem to work much better.

                    1. re: Bob W

                      the simpler the better when it comes to fried anything and lemon brings out the flavor of calamari...what is up with serving marinara...just masks flavor....remoulade is also my weakness as well...I even occasionally dip my fries in mayo...not very healthy but yummy!

            2. I prefer just a little lemon on my fried calamari, but also like the change of pace the garlic and vinegar peppers give once in a while. But I've had versions that just overpowered the calamari with hot peppers too - which to me is as bad as placing the calamari on a bed of marinara sauce.

              3 Replies
              1. re: LStaff

                now closed Gertrudes Galley in middletown had portuguese inspired "mozambique style"calimari that was amazing,white wine,galic,lemon,etc.i cant get that flavor out of my mind.arrgghhhhh!!!

                1. re: im hungry

                  Marchettis is Cranston has something similar....they toss their fried calamari in their ala mama sauce. The calamari does not come out crispy by any means but the sauce is rather flavorful. It is one of the few things on the bland menu that I look forward to.

                2. I had the calamari at the Capitol Grill years ago and thought it was the best ever. The only thing that came close was a restaurant in Manchester, NH called Cafe Pavone. Both only flash fried the squid and squeezed hot tomato peppers and a bit of oil on top. Perfect. No marinara, but a bit of lemon on the side.