Photo by Rachel Weatherly
Since my first taste of non-fried calamari, I've been hooked. The deviation from the rubbery, flavorless rings served at many establishments rocked my taste buds, and I began devouring the different variations served all over town. These are my top picks for outside-the-breading squid.
At Stella's, the calamari (spelled with a "k") really tastes as if it was just plucked off a hot grill. It was served with artichokes, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and generous slices of lemon, and I couldn't get enough. The leftovers were even tasty when I ate them cold the next day. (Yes, I admit it.) 1012 Lafayette St., 358-2011.
Edo's has two takes on calamari. I am in love with the squid, arugula, garlic and lemon that comes in a light, delicious broth I wanted to lap up with a spoon. However, the squid with white beans and arugula that's served cold makes for a crisp summer appetizer as well. 411 N. Harrison St., 864-5488.
Osaka Sushi and Steak
Osaka's miso-grilled calamari (available at both locations) comes with the biggest rings and tentacles I've ever seen, cooked on a hibachi grill for a flavorful, slightly addicting, charred taste. It's topped with a brothy sauce and comes with hot sauce on the side. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the top, and it's rich, sweet and spicy all at once. 5023 Huguenot Road, 288-8801; 11674 W. Broad St., 364-8800.
It's not exactly calamari, but the grilled baby octopus at Ironfish is prepared in a citrus-oregano marinade, then served with white beans, preserved lemon, fresh herb pistou and topped with queso fresco and frisée. It's lemony, salty and smooth, with the frisée providing a crisp crunch at the end. 3061 Lauderdale Drive, 249-4515.
The sautéed calamari at Bacchus sold me on sautéed squid forever. Perfectly cooked, it practically melts in your mouth, and it's topped with a tangy lemon-garlic sauce, capers and plenty of garlic. Make sure to save some of the freshly baked buns to dip in the sauce. 2 N. Meadow St., 355-9919.