By Rachel Azark
Some might say gross to the idea of fried calamari, otherwise known as fried squid. And if you're like me, you hear squid and picture the limp sea creature on the dissecting table in junior high science class. But don't knock it until you've tried it – it doesn't even taste fishy. If it's it done right, it doesn't have a rubbery texture (ew, gross) and is seasoned well and crispy. Here are a few places around Chicago, and one in the suburbs, that does calamari right.
7110 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
Located in Lincolnwood, L. Woods isn't your typical looking Lettuce Entertain You restaurant. It's got a woodsy theme that makes you feel like you're eating dinner in a cabin up north. They excel at American cuisine and feature BBQ ribs, steaks, and fish. Their calamari is light and crispy and comes with homemade cocktail and horseradish sauces. It makes for a perfect starter. Just be cautious here because their portions are huge, so know what's coming for your entrée.
272 Oakbrook Center
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Reel Club opened five years ago in Oak Brook and specializes in seafood. It is a bit more of an upscale restaurant, but you can still stop in after a day of shopping at the mall and not feel out of place. No matter what you're having, the fried calamari is always great to start with. It is served on a large platter with drizzled herbed marinara sauce on top and balsamic glaze. Make sure not fill up too much on their delicious popovers before anything else comes out.
Coco Pazzo Café
636 N. St. Clair St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Located right near Northwestern Hospital in Streeterville, Coco Pazzo Café serves Tuscan Italian food. They serve house-made pasta, paninis, bruschetta, and braised and grilled meats. It is a nice place to come to for a lunch out on a work day. Their fried calamari comes with their arrabiatta sauce.
626 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
In River North, Quartino's offers a restaurant and a wine bar perfect for good happy hours. Their menu offers thin-crust pizza, house-made pastas, and seasonal dishes. Quartino's makes their dishes so they are Italian tapas style so you can share with your friends. Their crisp calamari comes with an organic tomato sauce. Try it as a dish to share after work, or as a starter before dinner.
1827 W. Wilson
Caro Mio is a little Italian restaurant in Ravenswood. They don't take reservations, but are willing to take down your phone number and call you when a table opens up. You can go to the pub down the street while you wait. Their staff is friendly and their food is good. It's the perfect date night restaurant. It's also BYOB. So bring your favorite wine and enjoy a plate of their delicious calamari. The calamari is lightly breaded and pan fried and finished with extra virgin olive oil and garlic.
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