Eat Your World spotlights regional foods and drinks around the globe, from New York to New Delhi. Visit their Massachusetts section for more of the best local dishes in Boston.
What: Like clam chowder and lobster rolls, fried clams embody the New England coast — its geography, culture, bounty — in all its salty glory. In fact, one North Shore restaurant claims to have invented the battered, deep-fried clam in 1916 (a claim that might not mesh with records that Boston restaurants, including the Parker House, listed "fried clams" on their menu as early as 1865, though it’s possible the bivalves were prepared differently). The best clams around here are Ipswich soft-shell clams (aka steamers); for this dish, they’re traditionally dipped whole in evaporated milk, dusted with flour, and fried in oil or lard. The name comes from the North Shore town of Ipswich (30 miles north of Boston), parts of which, along with neighboring towns, compose the Great Marsh: 20,000-plus beautiful acres of salt marsh, barrier beach, tidal creek, estuary, and mudflat, the latter of which has long been the preferred habitat of soft-shell clams. Done well, fried Ipswich clams are a crispy, briny delight.
Good to know: The name "Ipswich clam" is often applied to other soft-shell clams from outside the Great Marsh area, especially as the local clam beds can’t always meet the season’s demand. It’s a good idea to ask restaurants about the source of their Ipswich clams — some places actually get soft-shells from Nova Scotia or Maryland and call them "Ipswich." In Boston, you can be reasonably assured you’ll get a New England-born clam, whether from the Ipswich area, Cape Cod, or Maine.
Also good to know: Menus usually specify "whole-belly clams" or "clam strips," which are sliced parts of hard-shell clams. If you see "Ipswich clams," you’ll get the whole clam. That’s what you want: the tender, flavorful belly.
Where: At chic bistro cum oyster bar Neptune Oyster in the North End, you can find fried Ipswich clams —from Ipswich — on the menu year-round.
When: Daily, 11:30 a.m. until the kitchen closes: 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and around 10:30 p.m. on weekends. (The raw bar generally stays open an hour later than the kitchen.) Expect a wait.
Order: The fried Ipswich clams (market price; $19 during our visit) are wonderful here: delicately fried and just slightly salty, so the clams’ sweet, briny flavor really shines through. They’re served with lemon and an excellent lemony, pickle-y tartar sauce, made in-house. For an ideal Boston meal, follow it up with a hot, buttery lobster roll.
Alternatively: Road trip alert! Ipswich clams only get better the closer you get to Ipswich (duh), so drive 40 minutes north of Boston if you can. You can’t get more locavore than the prized "native" clams at Clam Box of Ipswich (246 High St.) in Ipswich, a seasonal shack that’s shaped like an open box of clams (open mid-February through December; skip the "clam plate" unless you want a pile of fries/onion rings, too). In nearby Essex, just south of Ipswich and right along the estuaries of the Great Marsh, there’s Woodman’s (121 Main St.), which claims to have invented the fried clam as we know it today, as well as Essex Seafood (143R Eastern Ave.), an awesomely no-frills little seafood shack and fish market. Back in Boston, we also liked the fried clams at Island Creek Oyster Bar (500 Commonwealth Ave.), where they’re "hand dug" from the South Shore; and you might even try the local whole-bellied critters at regional chain Legal Seafoods (multiple locations including 255 State St.), which seems to know its way around the area’s clams (see also: New England clam chowder).
Laura Siciliano-Rosen is the co-founder of Eat Your World, a website that spotlights regional foods and drinks around the globe. Follow Eat Your World on Twitter @eat_your_world.
Gather the ingredients. Preheat the deep fryer to 375 F or heat 3 inches of peanut oil in a Dutch oven.
Measure cracker crumbs, poultry seasoning, salt, chipotle pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and dill weed into a large zip-top bag. Toss to combine. Set aside.
Stir the clams into the beaten eggs. Using a slotted spoon, remove a few clams at a time and place in the bag of herbed cracker crumbs. Shake to coat, remove clams, and place on a platter. Repeat until all clams are coated.
Fry clams in batches, about 30 seconds, until golden brown. Take care not to crowd the clams while frying. Drain on paper towels and serve hot as an appetizer or entree.
What: Like clam chowder and lobster rolls, fried clams embody the New England coast&mdashits geography, culture, bounty&mdashin all its salty glory. In fact, one North Shore restaurant claims to have invented the battered, deep-fried clam in 1916 (a claim that might not mesh with records that Boston restaurants, including the Parker House, listed &ldquofried clams&rdquo on their menu as early as 1865, though it&rsquos possible the bivalves were prepared differently). The best clams around here are Ipswich soft-shell clams (a.k.a. steamers) for this dish, they&rsquore traditionally dipped whole in evaporated milk, dusted with flour, and fried in oil or lard. The name comes from the North Shore town of Ipswich (30 miles north of Boston), parts of which, along with neighboring towns, compose the Great Marsh: 20,000-plus beautiful acres of salt marsh, barrier beach, tidal creek, estuary, and mudflat, the latter of which has long been the preferred habitat of soft-shell clams. Done well, fried Ipswich clams are a crispy, briny delight.
Good to know: The name &ldquoIpswich clam&rdquo is often applied to other soft-shell clams from outside the Great Marsh area, especially as the local clam beds can&rsquot always meet the season&rsquos demand. It&rsquos a good idea to ask restaurants about the source of their Ipswich clams&mdashsome places actually get soft-shells from Nova Scotia or Maryland and call them &ldquoIpswich.&rdquo In Boston, you can be reasonably assured you&rsquoll get a New England-born clam, whether from the Ipswich area, Cape Cod, or Maine.
Also good to know: Menus usually specify &ldquowhole-belly clams&rdquo or &ldquoclam strips,&rdquo which are sliced parts of hard-shell clams. If you see &ldquoIpswich clams,&rdquo you&rsquoll get the whole clam. That&rsquos what you want: the tender, flavorful belly.
Where: At chic bistro cum oyster bar Neptune Oyster (63 Salem St., map), in the North End, you can find fried Ipswich clams&mdashfrom Ipswich&mdashon the menu year-round.
When: Daily, 11:30am till the kitchen closes: 9:30pm on weekdays and around 10:30pm on weekends. (The raw bar generally stays open an hour later than the kitchen.) Expect a wait.
Order: The fried Ipswich clams (market price $19 during our visit) are wonderful here: delicately fried and just slightly salty, so the clams&rsquo sweet, briny flavor really shines through. They&rsquore served with lemon and an excellent lemony, pickle-y tartar sauce, made in-house. For an ideal Boston meal, follow it up with a hot, buttery lobster roll.
Alternatively: Road trip alert! Ipswich clams only get better the closer you get to Ipswich (duh), so drive 40 minutes north of Boston if you can. You can&rsquot get more locavore than the prized &ldquonative&rdquo clams at Clam Box of Ipswich (246 High St., map) in Ipswich, a seasonal shack that&rsquos shaped like an open box of clams (open mid-Feb through Dec skip the &ldquoclam plate&rdquo unless you want a pile of fries/onion rings too). In nearby Essex, just south of Ipswich and right along the estuaries of the Great Marsh, there&rsquos Woodman&rsquos (121 Main St., map), which claims to have invented the fried clam as we know it today, as well as Essex Seafood ( 143R Eastern Ave., map), an awesomely no-frills little seafood shack and fish market. Back in Boston, we also liked the fried clams at Island Creek Oyster Bar (500 Commonwealth Ave., map), where they&rsquore &ldquohand dug&rdquo from the South Shore and you might even try the local whole-bellied critters at regional chain Legal Seafoods (multiple locations including 255 State St., map), which seems to know its way around the area&rsquos clams (see also: New England clam chowder).
In today's Route 133 clam-off, I declared Clam Box of Ipswich the winner. I believe they have achieved fried-clam perfection.
Clam Box of Ipswich (Ron Agrella/Boston.com Staff)
Of course, not everyone agrees.
Several people wrote in to recommend Ipswich Clambake Company.
Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, Me., and Park Lunch in Newburyport also got shout-outs.
Someone e-mailed from Astor, Fla., to say there's an Essex 2 prospering there, New England accents, proper fried clams, and all. Someone lamented the defunct White Cap Restaurant of his youth (it was in Ipswich, where Marco Polo is now). Surprisingly, no one mentioned HoJo's.
And others wanted to eat fried clams without burning so much gas. One reader suggested Royal Roast Beef in East Boston and Twin Seafood in Reading. (I'd add Tony's in Quincy and Kelly's in Revere to that list.) Someone else asked for suggestions for South Shore residents. (The aforementioned Tony's and the Hingham Lobster Pound come to mind.)
Much like a New England summer, fried clams are hot, worth waiting for, and always gone to soon. Here are few local seafood standards that sell standout fried clams—most made with local bivalves harvested in nearby Ipswich.
While we appreciate the artful composition (and contents) of Saltie Girl’s tinned fish spreads, we love the stripped-down simplicity of its fried Ipswich Clams, which arrive in a metal bucket that can barely contain them. Served alongside are the only accompaniments needed: two sizable lemon wedges and a mini-bucket of tartar sauce.
Not that we’d expect otherwise, but Barbara Lynch’s South End seafood restaurant B&G Oyster does a spot-on version of the local classic. The Fried Ipswich Clams are substantial and crispy without being chewy. A house-made tartar sauce is the perfect creamy, zingy foil to the crunch of the deep-fried seafood (and to the French fries served alongside it).
Yankee Lobster Co.
A true New England fried clam experience requires one ingredient not every restaurant can serve: a whiff of the Atlantic Ocean. At Yankee Lobster Company in the Seaport District, you can take in a freshly fried basket of Whole Belly Fried Clams just a stone’s throw from Boston Harbor. If you’d like to diversify the meal (and if you have some friends in tow), spring for a Fisherman’s Platter, with fried fish, scallops, shrimp, and clams, or a Captain’s Feast featuring all that plus calamari and a lobster tail.
Island Creek Oyster Bar
Leave it to Island Creek Oyster Bar, a restaurant partially owned by a bivalve farm, to serve Ipswich clams that were harvested by hand before receiving their deep fry. The Hand-Dug Ipswich Clams are available as both an appetizer-appropriate four-ounce size and a larger eight-ounce serving if you’re looking to turn it into an entrée. And because no ICOB experience is complete without at least one oyster, supplement your order with a crispy oyster slider on a brioche bun.
It may feel like treason to order anything but the Maine Lobster Roll at Neptune Oyster, but we recommend giving the Fried Ipswich Clams a shot (backup plan: order both). The breaded bivalves have just the right amount of batter, enough to keep them crispy without weighing them down.
1. The Lobster Pot—Provincetown
This place draws locals and tourists alike for its fresh seafood and excellent view of Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod. The restaurant has two waterfront dining rooms and a deck for even better viewing of the harbor. The Clam Chowder is divine here, and the sautéed squid is a local favorite. Try the Ultimate Fried Oysters—five freshly shucked Wellfleet oysters on top of salsa served with avocado mousse, sour cream, and tortilla chips. The Lobster Pot may have one of the best views on Cape Cod, but it also has some of the freshest seafood!
2. Woodman’s of Essex—Essex
Since 1914, Woodman’s has been serving up some of the best seafood in the Bay State. In fact, it also claims to be the original inventor of the fried clam. Try one of their famous gluten-free fried clams that has been rated one of the best tasting ones in America. Don’t worry, they also serve steamed clams with drawn butter, hot boiled lobster, and a tasty clam chowder. Try their jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, or even the Down River Combo—an assortment of clams, shrimp, scallops and fish. Taste a little bit of seafood history and head to Woodman’s of Essex.
Find a vacation rental in Essex, Massachusetts
3. Burke’s Seafood—Quincy
Burke’s Seafood doubles as a fresh fish market and a dine-in restaurant, and their seafood is so good you might want to eat there and take some home to cook up for yourself. Their unassuming storefront makes this place easy to miss, but you’ll definitely want to make a stop at Burke’s. The lobster salad sandwich comes with chunks of lobster and a side of fries, and the fried fish tacos are a tasty menu item. Come at the right time of year and you’ll also get to try their soft shell crabs, a local favorite. Don’t miss the chance to eat at this locally owned market and restaurant and take some fresh fish home with you.
4. Neptune Oyster—Boston
Perhaps one of the most visited seafood restaurants in Boston, Neptune Oyster is located in the historically Italian North End. The North End Cioppino is not to be missed—this spicy stew of mixed grilled fish, shellfish, and Maine Lobster is one of the best items on the menu. Their extensive oyster selection keeps customers happy and the Whole Rockport Mackerel ‘Veracruz’ entrée is a delicious choice for seafood lovers. Try the Friday night special, the Squid Ink Risotto, or the Wednesday night special of Octopus Cassoulet and enjoy scrumptious seafood from one of the best places in Massachusetts to get it.
5. Turner’s Seafood—Melrose
Located just a short drive north of Boston, Turner’s Seafood is one of the most highly rated seafood restaurants in the area. This place exudes that traditional New England seafood joint, and the service does not disappoint. The linguine and clam seafood medley is a crowd pleaser, and their various oysters should definitely be tried, as well. Both the lobster bisque and lobster roll are tasty choices, but the New England Bouillabaisse is a seafood-packed gem. This menu item is a house-made fish stock chock full of Dry North Atlantic Sea Scallops, Mexican Shrimp, Local Whitefish, Mussels, and Lobster and is served with toasted garlic bread. Don’t miss out on this delightfully tasty dish when you come to Turner’s Seafood.
6. Island Creek Oyster Bar—Boston
A small oyster company in Duxbury, Massachusetts provides some of the freshest quality oysters at this Boston restaurant. Island Creek Oysters are served at some of the top-tier seafood restaurants across the country, but their flagship restaurant is the best place to try them. In fact, the rest of their food is just as tasty. Try the shellfish platter which comes with a ring of oysters around a bucket of lobster tails, or the Lobster Roe Noodles which features braised short rib, grilled lobster, and mushrooms. You can also get your hands on Maryland Striped Bass, Chatham Monkfish, and Grilled Maine Salmon. You really can’t go wrong with any of the menu items at Island Creek just make sure you try their famous oysters!
What to Eat in Massachusetts: The Bay State's Most-Iconic Eats
Massachusetts is known far and wide for its exuberant sports fans, but did you know it's also a hub for apple cider doughnuts, Portuguese pastries and uber-fresh seafood, like oysters and fried clams? Read on for the best spots to score these dishes and more.
Photo By: Danita Delimont/Getty Images
Photo By: Chanstarco/Getty Images
Photo By: Durgin Park ©2016
Photo By: genekrebs/Getty Images
Photo By: PJ's Family Restaurant
The State's Best Plates
They drive like maniacs, talk about ice cream like it's fine wine and obsess over the Red Sox no matter the season — proudly. Massachusetts natives are nuts for their state's go-to foods, too, whether it's Irish soda bread, fish 'n' chips, cider doughnuts or maple sugar candy. Here are some exemplary places to find 20 of the state's most-iconic eats — from the hills of South Amherst to Boston's Back Bay.
Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs
Scallops aren't hard to cook they're just hard to cook well. Neptune Oyster chef Daniel Karg knows the secret. The proper sear is "the biggest thing I try to teach cooks here: Get 'em super dry, salt and pepper 'em right before you put 'em in the hot cast-iron pan, and get 'em nice and crispy and seared," he says. Their golden-brown crust is what sets these big, sweet and plump Georges Bank scallops apart, along with their seasonal accoutrements. In summer Karg plates them with sweet corn, smoky bacon and juicy tomatoes in winter they're paired with Brussels sprouts, duck confit and pear puree.
Fried Clam Bellies
Excellent fried clams are available throughout the state, but arguably the best place to eat them is with a view of the ocean. Mac's on the Pier provides them — you want to try the clams whole, with their bellies, at least once before chickening out and eating clam strips — with the waves of the sea crashing all around you. Clams are sourced locally on Cape Cod, says manager Colin Ashe, and come with fries, tartar sauce, coleslaw and lemon. They can be pricey, but when they're this fresh, it's worth the splurge.
Handmade all day, every day throughout the fall, these apple cider-infused cake doughnuts are tossed in cinnamon and sugar, and they sell by the thousands daily to their many ravenous fans. Atkins ships its beloved apple-y delights across the country, so if you can't get them warm at the shop, you can order them for delivery.
New York water is the key to the success of Sam LaGrassa's corned beef, says Rob LaGrassa, whose dad has collaborated with a Bronx-based family business for more than 60 years. LaGrassa's corned beef is brined in a custom solution made just for the restaurant, says LaGrassa, of salt, bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns and chili pepper. He gets deliveries of the meat weekly, slices it up to toss on locally made rye or pumpernickel bread, slathers it with Gulden's spicy brown mustard and watches it fly out the door. (Pro tip: Try the toasted corned beef Reuben with Russian dressing, Swiss and sauerkraut.)
Reputed to be a popular dish among early American settlers, this humble corn custard is still on the menu at Durgin Park, a more-than-century-old mainstay in Faneuil Hall. The dish's consistency, one staffer told us, is similar to a sweet breakfast cereal, or grits. Cornmeal mingling with butter, brown sugar and molasses, served warm, with an almost pudding-like texture, or served with cold vanilla ice cream? It's not surprising that Indian pudding is still a much-sought-after menu item at the restaurant today.
Irish Soda Bread
Husband and wife Dermot and Cindy Quinn of Greenhills Irish Bakery have been selling bread to Irish restaurants and pubs for 25 years. Early on, Cindy persuaded Dermot to give her his Granny Murphy's brown bread recipe after he brought her one of Granny's loaves from the Old World. It sparked an interest in Irish soda bread, too, which they eventually pried out of Granny. (Her recipe card of "handfuls and pinches" still hangs on their wall in a frame.) Today the two credit hand-mixing the dough and soaking the raisins in water so they don't dry out as the keys to their gorgeous, plush soda bread.
Baked Stuffed Scrod
If you’re craving a mammoth piece of fish stuffed with more fish and drizzled with decadent lobster sauce, look for a restaurant that serves a lot of seafood. The Riverway Lobster House in South Yarmouth certainly does, and it draws Cape Codders and tourists for its exemplary stuffed scrod. A homemade seafood stuffing features heavy hitters such as salmon, cod and swordfish, which mingle with a shot of sherry, butter, leeks, cream and thyme. They're packed inside a fillet of scrod, wrapped up, topped with Ritz crackers and panko, baked, then served with a dreamy lobster sauce. It's so New England it hurts.
Legal Sea Foods — or Legal, as it is fondly known here — opened in 1950 in Cambridge and has become a New England institution, now counting dozens of outposts along the eastern seaboard. (Disclosure: This writer's mother worked here decades ago!) Owner Roger Berkowitz recalls: "Initially we had done only fish chowder, [but] we tried an experiment with clam chowder and it went over well. . As soon as we introduced it, I thought, 'Boy, why didn't we do that before?'" Today the clam chowder — featuring fresh clams, salt pork, potatoes, light cream and a homemade fish stock that Berkowitz thinks is key — outsells fish chowder 20 to 1.
Fish 'n' Chips
Natives of County Clare, Ireland, run this authentic Irish pub, and you'll know it once you've had one bite of their fish 'n' chips. Fresh cod delivered daily is dunked in a simple batter of milk, butter, flour, salt and pepper, then fried to order in vegetable oil and wrapped snug in the Cambridge Chronicle, a free local paper. Served with pickle-studded homemade tartar sauce, fat lemon wedges and a clutch of housemade french fries, it is divine. Manager John Blake swears the traditional newspaper wrapping "keeps the flavor together before it seeps out," and it's tough to argue.
Griddled Blueberry Muffins
You gotta trust a spot whose signature item is right in its name! New Englanders love a griddled blueberry muffin (which can be tough to find elsewhere in the nation), pressed down on a griddle with a steak weight, dripping with butter, and slightly crisp and plush at once. The Blueberry Muffin shop sells four types of blueberry muffins: original, gluten-free, bran and coffee cake. And about a fourth of customers order them buttered, griddled and served with even more butter. (This is dairy country, after all!) About 1,000 muffins are made fresh daily every week.
Linguica Cheese Roll
A Portuguese family of nine children compose the heart of the locally beloved Sunrise Bakery & Coffee Shop. "My mom did it right. She said, 'I had all these children. We're gonna reuse 'em for something!'" laughs co-owner and baker Inez Pacheco. Her family has offered these top-selling linguica cheese rolls "since day one," 37 years ago, selling 50 dozen daily and twice that on weekends. Sliced American cheese and local linguica, a Portuguese sausage beloved in this area, mingle inside in a sweet Portuguese roll. The "grease from the linguica flavors the whole dough," promises Pacheco. Nothing beats a hangover so deliciously.
One out of three tickets reads "steak tips" at The Greenhouse Wood Fired Pub in Mendon. Owner John McCarthy proudly serves bits of steak a couple of different ways at this former greenhouse. But by far the most-popular option is the Jameson steak tips: "basically a bowl with blue cheese mashed potatoes, a pound of Jameson steak tips around them, sweet Jameson whiskey sauce poured over the top and crispy onion rings." Jameson is part of the steak marinade, and more of the Irish whiskey goes into a sauce of butter and brown sugar, which is reduced to a syrup and poured over the whole shebang.
Those who want oysters tend to want a whole lot of them — and with good variety to choose from. Island Creek Oyster Bar is connected to the nearby eponymous oyster farm, and it is renowned for its slightly sweet, delicate and lightly briny bivalves. The raw bar features 14 oysters, plus two crudos, a half Maine lobster, a towering shellfish platter for four, clams and shrimp cocktail, for good measure. Sure, there's a menu full of hot food, too, with chicken, lobster and steak, among other goodies, but shellfish lovers tend to park at the raw bar with a platter and some bubbly.
Pasteis de Nata
Egg custards in phyllo dough are a Portuguese delicacy widely seen in New Bedford, which has a huge Portuguese population. Inez Pacheco of Sunrise Bakery says her brother Joe Amaral spends an entire day working on the shell for these tarts, only to watch them disappear once he's done. Lots of buttery, paper-thin layers are key to the base, into which a sweet, creamy and vanilla-laced custard similar to creme brulee is poured. Baked and served warm, these tarts have fans of all ages: Mothers will often "spoon out the center and feed it to [their] babies," says Pacheco.
A seasonally open Cape Cod standby, PJ's Family Restaurant is known for lots of foods — fried oysters and lobster rolls among them. But lots of folks ask for the steamers, which they call "steam-aahs": soft-shell clams sold steamed in their shells, with warm butter and a cup of broth. Owner Don Reeves sells thousands of pounds of these every year, and he recommends you pluck them from their shells, dip them in the broth by their necks to clean off any extra sand, dunk them in butter, and "then down the hatch." Oceanic, slightly sweet and super-fresh, they're as Massachusetts as it gets.
Boston Baked Beans
Those who grew up with Boston baked beans might recall a syrupy, sweet substance poured from a can, to be avoided at all costs. But at Marliave, Chef-Owner Scott Herritt was determined to "take them to a different level," he says. By braising short ribs and ham hocks in great white Northern beans, cooking them for hours with plenty of garlic, veal and chicken stock, and a touch of molasses for color and a hit of sweetness, he makes locals marvel at just how good the classic can be.
Maple Sugar Candy
Many locals grew up having their trees tapped to make maple syrup or visiting local sugar shacks to observe the process of making syrup. Super-sweet maple leaf-shaped maple sugar candy is part of the experience, and it is best procured from a place that makes its own. The North Hadley Sugar Shack was started by two teenage brothers who "drove their mom nuts" by boiling syrup right in their house for years until they built a shack behind their folks' place, says Michelle Boisvert, wife to brother Joe. Nowadays the couple sells creamy maple candy and syrup year-round, and they offer a full brunch (with plenty of pancakes, of course) on November and December weekends.
Yeasty, sugar-dusted Portuguese doughnuts of "an awesome size — like two doughnuts put together" — draw lines that stretch out the door at 6:30 a.m. on weekends, laughs My Place waitress Ana Pacheco. Fat malasadas are made with plenty of butter, sugar, flour and a bit of yeast, and staffers sell about 400 of them on weekends in four hours. (The restaurant sells these only on weekends.) And they're constantly being churned out fresh. "Just about everybody, I usually hand 'em warm malasadas," says Pacheco.
For many New Englanders, the best ice cream hails from their hometown ice cream shop. But Somerset's is a notch above the rest, with ice cream made fresh daily. Owned by one family since 1937, Somerset Creamery boasts a marvelously creamy, dense mouthfeel — never crystalline — thanks to a high butterfat content, says co-owner Jason Berube. Look for limited-edition special flavors such as cantaloupe, but the most-popular option is the cranberry bog ice cream, according to Berube, which they invented. For this unique flavor, a subtle cranberry base is studded with cranberries, dark chocolate and walnuts. Locals go bananas for it.
"Once a fleeing thief was caught when a customer threw a frappe at him as he left the building," remembers Toscanini's owner Gus Rancatore. "It was easy for the Cambridge cops to identify him since he was covered with chocolate ice cream and milk." That's how much these thick shakes — made with wonderfully silky ice cream, milk and flavoring, as opposed to simply milk and flavoring — are part of local culture. Eclectic flavors such as kulfi, saffron, grapenut and hamantaschen dot the menu here, where ice cream of any flavor can be made into a thick, dreamy frappe (which rhymes with "rap").
Phantom Gourmet: Great 8 Fried Clams
Nothing says summer like digging into a plate of fried clams. Phantom reveals the eight spots with the greatest golden fried orders he&rsquos ever found.
Wollaston Beach, Quincy
Kicking off the Great 8 is The Clam Box on Wollaston Beach in Quincy. This beachside institution has been serving seafood since the sixties, like overloaded lobster rolls and creamy New England Clam Chowder packed with plenty of that scrimptions shellfish. When it comes to clams, nobody serves bellies bigger than they do at The Clam Box.
“If you’re going to have a clam, you want the biggest belly around,&rdquo one customer said, &ldquoand the Clam Box has always had the biggest bellies. They’re just mouthwatering. It’s a large clam. It’s a lot to eat. But it hasn’t stopped me yet.&rdquo
Belle Isle served seafood out of a tiny shack in East Boston for decades, but recently moved to a sprawling space, just over the bridge in Winthrop. Owner Jim Costin sources and sells the freshest fish he can find, including deliciously golden fried clams served with tasty tartar. Whether you enjoy them inside or out, you can do so with a stunning view of Boston.
“Our view starts at basically the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, to the Zakim Bridge, right over to the skyline of Boston as well as the airport. And at nighttime, everything is lit up. It’s pretty spectacular.”
Another Great 8 winner is The Landing in Marblehead. Situated right on top of Marblehead Harbor, this old school seafood stop serves fish fresh from the Atlantic – on the Atlantic. When it comes to clams, they sell nothing but the best- sourced just down the road in Ipswich.
“They get delivered to our back door. They jump into the fryolater they’re on the plate and then they’re in your mouth. Fresh as fresh can be.”
Bob&rsquos Clam Hut
Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine, is a bustling roadside seafood shack with a cheery sign that beckons customers to “Eat Clams!&rdquo. Outlet shoppers dine at umbrella-studded picnic tables along a white picket fence, or inside in their casual dining room. Since 1956, they’ve been serving some of the best fried clams money can buy, including a special recipe called “The Lillian” fried clam, which is dipped in egg wash so it&rsquos fluffier and sweeter.
WATCH: Best Fried Clams, Part 2
Red Wing Diner
For over eighty years, the Red Wing on Route One in Walpole has been serving and stuffing hungry customers with fresh, honest, straight-forward seafood, crispy bar pizzas and indulgent comfort food. Fried clams here are fabulous on their own, but even better as part of the Red Wing’s Fisherman’s platter – overloaded with whole bellied clams, scallops, shrimp, haddock, fries and ultra-addictive onion rings.
Another Great 8 winner is Evelyn’s Drive-In. Located on the banks of Nanaquaket Pond in Tiverton, Rhode Island, this little red roadside clam shack is famous for massive seafood platters, and a local delicacy known as Lobster Chow Mein. There are plate-tipping lobster rolls, grilled sea scallops, Grape Nut Pudding, and of course plenty of fried clams and clam cakes served with stunning sunset views.
“Sometimes I refer to it as a clam palace. I think it’s a palace because of the view and just how spectacular the food and the service is.&rdquo
Woodman’s of Essex is the Mecca of the seafood world and claims to be the inventor of the fried clam. This oversized seafood shack has an upstairs deck and raw bar, a gift shop out back and a scenic picnic area overlooking a serene salt marsh. Woodman&rsquos serves up lots of fried seafood and perfectly puffy onion rings. And their famed fried clams are encapsulated in a light golden crunch so the briny clam flavor melts in your mouth.
Rounding out the Great 8 is another Essex institution, JT Farnham’s. Located by the Essex Salt Marsh, Farnham’s has been drawing in fried food fanatics for over 60 years. Fried clams are the specialty of the house. These luscious, golden beauties are great straight out of the box, or after a quick dip in Farnham’s homemade tartar sauce. And since the best clams around grow just outside, you can be sure each plate is super fresh.
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The history of Massachusetts in 6 dishes
Massachusetts has led the way in so many areas: The Revolutionary War started here, our doctors performed the first anesthesia and organ transplant, and we were the first state to allow same-sex marriage.
We’re also culinary innovators. Many of the brands you know and adore got their start right here. Ocean Spray and Welch’s? Massachusetts beverages. Necco wafers, Dunkin’ Donuts, Fig Newtons, Friendly’s restaurants? All native treats.
Certain dishes stand out among the rest. Some might argue about who does them best, but there’s no doubt—in my humble opinion as a Boston Globe food writer (and Boston native!)—these six dishes are icons.
Boston Baked Beans
Like most Boston kids, I grew up eating baked beans. Easy Friday-night dinner? Franks and beans. Scoping a cookout? There was always a bowl of baked beans on the picnic table next to the potato chips.
Rich and molasses laden, made with navy beans, sometimes with little cubes of salted pork or soft onions added in, they’re a native delicacy and a bit of an acquired taste. My husband, from Connecticut, refuses to eat the turgid little creatures. But I love them.
Boston baked beans at a restaurant in Provincetown.
So did the Native Americans, who cooked beans long before the Pilgrims arrived. The dish became even more popular as Boston began exporting rum in the 1700s, popularizing one of its key ingredients: molasses.
Today Persy’s Place, a humble breakfast and lunch spot with locations around Cape Cod, serves the best beans in Massachusetts. Order the fish cakes with a side of Boston baked beans. Tangy, saucy, and thick, they ooze into a brown puddle, softening the fish cake into a sweet stew of mealy joy. The Persy’s website notes that “ in colonial days, the beans were traditionally cooked overnight on Saturdays in a beanpot on the hearth of a brick oven and then served as a hot meal on Sunday mornings.” The restaurant still uses a traditional “beanpot” (a deep, short-necked crock), albeit in a modern oven, to get that smoky flavor.
Oh and just one thing: Never, ever call Boston “Beantown.” That kind of thing is reserved for out-of-towners trying to write cute travel stories and earns you nothing but scorn.
Boston Cream Pie
A woman bakes Boston cream pies in 1965. Photo By Dave Buresh / The Denver Post via Getty Images.
The official state dessert of Massachusetts is sort of like the Loch Ness monster of native sweets. You hear about it plenty, some claim to see it, but it smacks of being some kind of myth.
Boston’s upscale Omni Parker House hotel lays claim to creating the dessert, which is more a sponge cake than a pie, really, layered with creamy custard and iced with chocolate. The original Parker House hotel, which opened in 1856, started selling the dish then, drenching chocolate icing onto sponge cake. It was a hit. The hotel restaurant, Parker’s, still sells the cake, as does the gift shop.
The icing is firm and rich the cake is squishy and dense. Is it the world’s most innovative or unusual dessert? No. But it’s straightforward and satisfying—a metaphor for Boston itself.
Massachusetts is famous for its seafood: oysters, lobster rolls, haddock. But fried clams, craggy and sweet, are a gluttonous summertime indulgence that tastes so good but can hurt so much—after a certain age, fried mountains are hard to climb.
According to legend, Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman, owner of Woodman’s of Essex , fried his first clam in 1916 at a friend’s suggestion. It was a hit, and today Woodman’s is a landmark shanty on the North Shore.
Order your fried clams piled high with fries and onion rings. The bellies are encased firmly in their battery jackets until you pierce them with your teeth. Then squish! A briny and sweet jiggling balloon explodes in your mouth. Dunk it in chunky tartar sauce for a layer of umami, fatty gloss.
Fried clams and french fries. Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.
Picture gluey white spackle smeared across your peanut butter of choice, sealed with spongy Wonder bread. It’s the stuff of school-cafeteria fantasies. This is a Fluffernutter, classic midday fare for many Massachusetts children. Even grown-ups thrill at the sight of the gigantic white and blue Fluff tub, sealed with a cherry-red top.
Marshmallow Fluff containers. Photo by Joanne Rathe / The Boston Globe via Getty Images.
The sinful goo—a whipped mix of corn syrup, sugar syrup, dried egg whites, and vanilla—was invented in Somerville by Archibald Query, who had been making it in his kitchen and selling it door to door. Or so the story goes. He reportedly sold his formula to local businessmen H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, who then churned it out in a factory in Lynn. Always enterprising, they even sponsored the Flufferettes radio variety show for a while, on which they advertised their product.
These days Somerville’s Union Square hosts an annual Fluff festival of Fluff-themed snacks, like marshmallow taffy, popovers, and even empanadas. And Gracie’s Ice Cream in the square serves up cones of Fluffernutterbutter—peanut butter ice cream with a Fluff swirl.
Nothing like them in the fall: plump, bready, and sometimes ringed with cinnamon sugar that sticks to your lips like an autumnal saccharine gauze. Massachusetts is rife with apple orchards, and you can find cider doughnuts at almost any orchard worth its salt (or sugar) come September. The Doughnut Corporation of America, in New York, reportedly made the earliest versions of these sweets in the 1950s. But over time they have become a distinctly Massachusetts treat.
Cider doughnuts being dipped in sugar. Photo by Suzanne Kreiter / The Boston Globe via Getty Images.
Atkins Farms , in Amherst, serve the best ones. This quintessential New England country mart opened in 1887 as a McIntosh orchard and grew into a retail shop in the 1960s, specializing in apple-themed jams and jellies. In 1972 the Atkins family began making apple cider doughnuts. The warm and mealy stout rings of breaded heaven are usually sold by the half dozen.
The shop is set in the middle of the Five College area, home to the University of Massachusetts and Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges. It’s a rite of passage for students to stop here for doughnuts and a carton of tart, crisp cider on groggy Sunday mornings once those leaves start to turn.
Herrell’s Frappes, 1973
Everywhere else it’s a milkshake. Here it’s a frappe—a sludgy froth of milk, syrup, and ice cream, often served in tall metal canisters, poured into a curved glass like molten lava. Massachusetts natives eat (and drink) ice cream all year round: from boutique parlors, roadside stands, diners. But the best, thickest frappes are at Herrell’s in Northampton.
Herrell’s was founded in 1973 by Steve Herrell, the guy responsible for Steve’s Ice Cream in Somerville, once a local institution. Herrell pioneered the use of what we might call “mix-ins” today—the candy that gets smooshed into ice cream.
Steve’s has passed into lore, but Herrell’s still thrives down in the basement of Thornes Marketplace, a lovably indie bazaar of bookstores, coffee shops, candle peddlers, and hallway masseurs in the center of Northampton. And their frappes are sublime: They manage to temper classic flavors, like black raspberry, with out-there mix-ins, like jalapeño poppers. All drinkable.
20 Clam Recipes That Make Quick Weeknight Dinners
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about creating a meal with clams might be a traditional clam bake. And while that's definitely an option, we're sharing a collection of unique inspired clam recipes that are sure to please. Our dishes include tried-and-true classics, like Italian standards and a mix of steamed and grilled clam dishes. The best part? They all come together in under an hour, which means you and your family can enjoy clams for dinner any day of the week.
Before you start cooking, learn how to identify the different clams at the seafood market. There are seven most common types: chowder, steamer, cherrystone, littleneck, New Zealand, cockle, razor, and Manila. The recipes we're sharing make use of a number of these varieties, and you'll want to be sure you're picking up the right kind at the market or seafood store for best results.
Nothing beats a warm, steaming bowl of creamy clam chowder. We're sharing three iterations&mdashtwo classics and one lesser-known version&mdashfor hearty dishes that are delicious as a starter or for lunch. Another clam soup that's sure to please is our Spanish Clam Soup. With smoked paprika and serrano ham, littleneck clams make this one filling, satisfying bowl of soup. And we love that it comes together in just 45 minutes.
If you're in the mood for an Italian favorite with a briny twist, make our mouthwatering Green Gnocchi with Cockles. Fluffy spinach gnocchi pairs perfectly with soft, sautéed cockle clams&mdashand it's on the table in only 20 minutes. For something a little more fiery, try our Spicy Clams with Spaghetti&mdashit only takes 25 minutes to make, and the result is another quick and easy Italian-inspired clam dish. It's a fun iteration of classic spaghetti alle vongole that's sure to be a new family favorite. Finally, for something truly unique, make our Grilled Pizzas with Clams and Bacon. Your pie features all of the favorite ingredients from clam chowder, but on a doughy pizza.