Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce

To celebrate with my dad’s side of the family, we would sometimes meet for dinner on Wooster Street in New Haven. This is the fabled Italian neighborhood where you will find some of the best Neopolitan-style pizza in America. But we wouldn’t go to Sally’s or Pepe’s, the oldest, most celebrated pizza parlors on the block. No, not for us. My family, we met at Abate, a wood-paneled, red-and-white checkered tablecloth, old school family restaurant with angelic images of the Virgin Mary robed in blue framed on the walls, and a back room where the Knights of Columbus and Strega Appreciation Society convene on Sunday afternoons. We always order too many pizza pies: white spinach with garlic and lemon, clam and bacon, escarole and bean, grated cheese, margherita, and pepperoni. Pitchers of Foxon Park soda. Plus starters and salads.

Fried Calamari

Fried calamari is the quintessential family-style appetizer. The golden rings, the scary tentacles. So good. But so often, it is limp and rubbery. Today, I am a golden god. I made fried calamari in my kitchen and it was outstanding. I bought some lovely, inexpensive squid from Jess’s Market. It was not at all difficult to work with. The preparation couldn’t be easier. I like mine with a bit of crunch and pickled spice, so I tossed it with pepperoncini peppers at the end. But you don’t have to. You could also, instead serve with a pepperoncini aioli. But I made a classic marinara to accompany the dish, a red sauce specialty from the old country. That is, New Haven, Connecticut.

Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce
Serves 2-3 generously

  • 1 lb squid, mantle and tentacles separated by fishmonger
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Pepperoncini peppers, thinly sliced, optional

For the marina sauce:

  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


For the calamari:

Rinse and pat dry the squid. Slice the mantle (white tubes) into rings. Leave tentacles in tact. In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together milk and eggs. Soak squid in the milk mixture for at least an hour, covered in the refrigerator.

Fried Calamari

In a pie plate, use a fork to combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss drained squid in flour mixture to coat completely.

In a medium-sized Dutch oven, heat 3 inches vegetable oil to 375. Fry squid in small batches, about 3 minutes, until a deep, golden brown. Drain on paper towels/bag. Salt lightly. Optional: Toss with pepperoncini peppers. Serve immediately with marinara sauce for dipping.

For the marina sauce:

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium-low heat until simmering. Reduce heat to low and cook sauce slowly while frying calamari.

Fried Calamari

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. Love calamari and this looks really tasty. Never would have thought to add the pepperoncini, but I will give it a try! By the way, looks like a minor typo on your graphic on the pepperoncini spelling.

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