#87: Calamari Fritti at Mangia Italiano

Apr 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm
Given how many restaurants serve fried calamari, you would expect more places to get the dish right. The equation is simple enough: tender squid + crisp-fried batter + a dipping sauce with, you know, actual flavor. Sadly, most versions of this ever-popular dish strike out on at least one of the essentials. South Grand stalwart Mangia Italiano nails all three: the calamari is never too chewy -- usually it's not chewy at all -- the batter is fried a crisp, milk-chocolate brown, and the accompanying arrabbiata sauce is a terrific blend of chile heat, garlic and tomato.

No, it's not rocket science. In truth, after suffering through countless servings of tough, soggy, flavorless squid, you might think Mangia's calamari downright magical.

(Apologies for the photo quality. Camera battery died, so I had to use my phone.)

Mangia Italiano
3145 South Grand Boulevard

I'm counting down -- in no particular order -- 100 of my favorite dishes in St. Louis. Some are well-known, others obscure. Some are expensive, others dirt cheap. All of them, I guarantee, are delicious. Please do not hesitate to share your own favorites via the comments thread.


#88: Brisket sandwich at Winslow's Home
#89: Paletas at La Vallesana 2
#90: Spaghetti and meatballs at Sugo's Spaghetteria
#91: The Michael burger at Michael's Bar & Grill
#92: Fried egg and ham toastie at the Schlafly Tap Room
#93: Bavarian chips with Welsh rarebit at Dressel's
#94: Onion soup at Brasserie by Niche
#95: Baby-back ribs at 17th Street Bar & Grill
#96: Kingshighway burger at the Royale
#97: Gyro sandwich at South Grand Gyro Express
#98: Carne asada tacos at El Paisano (Watson Road)
#99: Pretzel bites at Joey B's on the Hill
#100: Hot and sour soup at Shu Feng Restaurant