Calamari is one of those foods that garners all kinds of reactions from people. Some people are appalled by the mere idea of it (“it’s squid!!”), some people are only ok with it if it’s deep fried, some people are only ok when it’s cut into rings and they do no want to see the tentacles, and some people love it in all its forms. I used to be of the second persuasion: only ok with it as long as it was deep fried. It just seemed safer and more unrecognizable in that form. I mean, it’s breaded and deep fried. Of course it’s good!
My very first date with Joseph was at a tapas restaurant and as we were selecting dishes to share, he suggested a sauteed calamari dish. I was faced with a dilemma. Do I present myself as a picky eater who’s somehow willing to eat (and enjoy) fried calamari on our first date, or just suck it up and eat something that sounds, frankly, kind of disgusting. I went with option number one and openly admitted that I was a little nervous, but of course I would try it. I loved it. After one bite I didn’t want to share the rest with him.
When I moved to Boston a few years ago, I was delighted to discover Rhode Island style calamari. I already loved fried calamari, but quickly discovered how it can be made even better with the addition of some spicy pepperoncini and some marinara sauce. We decided that for my birthday we were going to hunt down some great Rhode Island calamari in Rhode Island. At first we had trouble finding good reviews and then I was worried because it looked like most places just had regular calamari, not Rhode Island calamari. Then we got to Anthony’s Seafood and I realized that calamari in Rhode Island is Rhode Island calamari. Oops. Turns out that if you just drive south for an hour from Boston you no longer need to make the distinction. Sounds good to me!
It was very, very good calamari. If you’re in the Newport, RI area, I highly recommend it. Joseph got the fried scallops, which were only lightly breaded so the sweet meat of the scallop could really shine through. We also tried a spicy stuffie which I had never heard of, but is a clam shell stuffed with clam, chourizo, peppers, onions, breading, and spice. It was pretty good, even if they did slightly overdo the breading. And I got to try out my brand new lens, so all in all, it was a great birthday!
So if you’re not sure about calamari, try it fried (especially if you can find Rhode Island calamari!), and if you like it fried but you’re not so sure about it cooked any way other way, just try it sauteed! It’s really, really good! And don’t be afraid of the tentacles! It’s sort of fun adventure to chomp down on them and they really don’t taste any different from the rest of the squid. Joseph and I don’t deep fry at home, so I’m hoping to find a Rhode Island style calamari recipe that we can modify to be pan fried or sauteed and will let you know how it goes so you can try it yourself!