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slides: Rhode Island’s Best Calamari

Thursday, July 31, 2014

 

As summer winds along we've found ourselves spending more and more days at the beach. The heat and humidity have a tougher time reaching us there. And, when you are at the beach, seafood and shore dinners are the norm. This has led us into the relentless pursuit of the perfect calamari.

Our state appetizer is not as simple as it seems. We've all been there when the kitchen cooks it too long--or not long enough--and it's akin to rubber bands. That's part of the difficulty...perfection lasts mere seconds. Once cooked, it becomes a ticking time bomb for the chef. The longer it takes to get to the table, the greater the chance that it loses its crispness and gets soggy.

As far as toppings go, our state's chefs take this humble Rhode Island native and serve it with the flavors of the world. Italian preparations rule the day but you can find these fried rings tossed with ingredients from around the world. We set out to find 5 good examples of our state's ubiquitous app and came back with these...

 

Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s Best Calamari

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Edgewood Cafe, Cranston

Our previous champion returns for another round. It probably helps that this is our neighborhood bistro but, boy, that calamari is good. We love most everything here from the creative specials to the burgers to the BYOB. It's the squid that we get every time, though. These super crispy rings are tossed with salty, sun dried tomatoes, sweet grape tomatoes and banana peppers. It all comes together with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Once you add a squeeze of lemon it is pretty perfect. We live so close that often we just order the calamari as an appetizer for whatever we are having at home! 1864 Broad St. 383-5550,www.edgewoodcafe.com

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The Charlestown Rathskeller, Charlestown

Boy, this was a close vote. This was almost our winner. It was a second trip that tipped the scales for this year's victor, but watch out next year! The Rathskeller is a hidden gem in so much as it's hidden in the woods. It's an easy find with the GPS, however. Once there you find a restored speak easy with a big beautiful bar and indoor and outdoor seating. We settled in and chose the calamari quickly. Perfectly crisp rings were tossed with Peppadew peppers, fried garlic and parsley. It was served with a charred tomato sauce on the side that was a real star. All together you had sweet, smoky and earthy all coming together for some serious taste. 489A Old Coach Rd. 792-1000,www.thecharlestownrathskeller.com 

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The Cove, Charlestown

Another beach house favorite is the Cove. This little spot is adored by locals and visitors alike for its menu of local seafood and family favorites. A recent birthday celebration found us here with family members Sue and Karen. As we settled in several people simultaneously yelled out "I want calamari" and our appetizer was decided. This version is tossed in a light pesto sauce with roasted red peppers and sauteed spinach. This Mediterranean inspired version hit all the right notes and had our party sopping up the juices. One drawback was that it could've been a little crisper. 3963 Old Post Rd. 364-9222,www.thecoveri.com 

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Parkside Rotisserie, Providence

This one is another hold over from our previous list. There is a lot to love at Parkside. We can't seem to get past the bar. Come to think of, we've never sat in the dining room. When we found out that the calamari had been on the menu from day one, we dove right in and fell in love. Sweet and sour corn and a pepper puree are not common with calamari in these parts but trust us...this is the perfect accompaniment here. Nice, lightly fried rings are served along with these flavorful sides. Dip 'em at will and enjoy the warm flavors that accent the calamari perfectly. You can feel free to move on the tender and juicy rotisserie going on here if you like. Or just enjoy the calamari and a cocktail!76 South Main St. 331-0003,www.parksideprovidence.com

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Los Andes, Providence

We know you don't immediately think of a Bolivian restaurant when you think of calamari, or seafood for that matter, but Los Andes is one of the most popular spots in Providence for fresh fish. The ceviches at Los Andes are legendary. We ventured in to taste what the buzz was about and came away very impressed. One happy side effect of the visit was discovering Calamare al K'allu. Sweet, spicy, and perfectly crisp, this version has traditional flavors like garlic and tomato, and non-traditional flavors like mint, choclo and queso blanco. All these flavors combine for a delicious version that is finished with a decidedly local drizzle of balsamic vinegar. We were torn as to which dish won between the ceviche and the calamari as both were outstanding, but we are happy to say we will be back very soon! 903 Chalkstone Ave. 649-4911,www.losandesri.com

Photo credit: Crystal M. (Yelp)

 
 

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