Monday, July 27, 2009

Ode to Calamari: The Three Best Calamari dishes from Manhattan Beach to Manhattan NYC

Ode to Calamari: The Three Best Calamari dishes from Manhattan Beach to Manhattan NYC

For starters, I am obsessed with calamari. Let's just get that out in the open. This photo would have showed you the absolutely fantastic fried calamari with a Thai chili sauce from Blue Water Grill in NYC, but unfortunately, I ate it so fast I forgot to photograph it. So what you are seeing here is the aftermath of a wild animal (me) having completely annihilated this dish.

Let's back up. I'm going to tell you the three best calamari dishes I have had in the past year at three restaurants - 1 in Manhattan Beach (where we used to live) and 2 here in NYC. All 3 are completely different in flavor profile and preparation.

But the photo above and the night in question deserves a little back story. My friend Tara was in town from LA. We had a great day seeing Wicked (we both cried, is that supposed to happen?) followed by drinks on the rooftop of the Peninsula Hotel (the view of the taxis above). Then off to dinner at Blue Water Grill in NYC (Union Square). The only downer of the night was that some drunk losers at the bar at Blue Water threw a bar stool and caused some mayhem, but once the staff recovered, the night was good, the food was great.

I feel extremely confident that if you love calamari, you will fall in love with these three dishes.

The Best Calamari in Manhattan Beach and (possibly?) all of Los Angeles:

1. Petro's Restaurant in the Metlox. Petro's is an authentic Greek restaurant with amazing calamari. What makes it so good?
*The calamari is super fresh, you can just tell (not chewy at all!!!)
*The calamari is so lightly fried that doesn't even feel fried or heavy.
*They drizzle a light Greek creme sauce over the top that is just to die for. They also fry some almonds and lemon slices. The whole thing is just amazing.

The Best Calamari in New York (Manhattan) (So Far anyway! Much more to try!)

2. Mermaid Inn (Upper West Side location). The Calamari here is sauteed - not fried. It also has completely unexpected flavor profiles and textures.
*They include some frisee salad, goat cheese crumbles, sauteed mushrooms and a really nice light sauce with a little salt and fresh ground pepper that provided a pretty good kick. This is the most unusual calamari I've had, and it was the best thing on the menu from my point of view.

3. Blue Water Grill (as described above in Union Square)
The Thai chili fried calamari here is absolutely divine. They include some shredded carrots for an extra little crunch. This calamari is fried but the texture does not feel heavy or overly battered. Just a super crunch packed with flavor and a really tangy sauce that ends with a kick from the chili.
*It is a little embarrassing that I ate like 3/4 of it before my friend could get at it, but in my defense we hadn't eaten for 8 hours since before seeing the matinee of Wicked :) (If I stabbed her with my fork trying to scarf this dish down, I apologize publicly!)

There you have it. Your turn! I/We want to hear the BEST Calamari you have ever had so we can go try it!!!
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  1. Next time you're in SF I'll take you to A16 for their special off the menu calamari pizza - it is AMAZING!!!

  2. Stacey, that sounds UNREAL, SIGN ME UP SISTA!

  3. i do like calamari...wouldn't say i love love love or have-to-have it. but the calamari at Blue Water was the best i have ever had and probably in the top 10 dishes of ANY food i have ever had. i loved it!!!! you did not stab me with your fork, by the way. and if you had, i wouldn't have noticed as i was too busy shoveling in my fair share. thanks for enlightening me to this dish!! i think it was the sauce and cilantro that made it so yummy!!!

  4. If you are in LA, you should definitely go to Casablanca and order one of their delicious calamari steaks! I am no connoisseur, but it is amazing (imho)...I've had dreams about this meal, and have seriously contemplated flying into LA for one day in order to grab lunch at Casablanca!

    Don't forget to eat their homemade tortillas--mouthwatering good.



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