Recipe: Rhode Island Style Calamari at Home

The Official Appetizer of the State of Rhode Island!

Calamari has been a popular dish in Rhode Island for centuries. The state's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean makes it a prime location for squid fishing, and the Italian immigrants who settled in Rhode Island in the 19th century brought their own traditions of cooking calamari.

In the early days, calamari was often served as a simple dish, fried in a light batter and served with lemon wedges. However, in the 1950s, a new style of calamari began to emerge in Rhode Island restaurants. This style, known as "Rhode Island-style calamari," featured squid that was lightly fried and tossed in a sauce made with butter, garlic, and hot peppers.

Rhode Island-style calamari quickly became popular, and it is now one of the most iconic dishes in the state. It is served in restaurants all over Rhode Island, and it is also a popular dish to cook at home.

There are a few reasons why Rhode Island-style calamari became so popular. First, the use of hot peppers gave the dish a unique flavor that set it apart from other types of calamari. Second, the light batter ensured that the squid remained tender and juicy. Finally, the simplicity of the dish made it easy to prepare and enjoy.

Today, Rhode Island-style calamari is a beloved dish that is enjoyed by people all over the world. It is a delicious and flavorful appetizer that is sure to please even the most discerning palate.

Here are some additional facts about the history of calamari in Rhode Island:

  • In 2014, Rhode Island-style calamari was declared the official state appetizer of Rhode Island.
  • The Port of Galilee, located in Narragansett, is the largest squid-fishing port in the United States.
  • Rhode Island is home to several restaurants that are known for their award-winning calamari - and many of those restaurants serve ours! 

Even if you're at home, you can make Rhode Island Style calamari! This recipe is easy to follow and can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. 

Here are some additional tips for making the best Rhode Island Style Calamari:


Download Printable Version of Recipe

Rhode Island Style Calamari


Prep time: 8 minutes

Cook time: 2 minutes

Ready in: 10 minutes

Serves: 2

  • 1 pound Town Dock tubes and tentacles

  • ¾ cup of flour

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Black pepper to taste

  • Corn oil

  • Pickled hot cherry peppers, sliced

  • Sliced Pepperoncini rings, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon pepperoncini juice

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped


1. Begin heating corn oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Coat pan with about ¼ inch of oil. Mix flour, garlic powder and pepper in a plastic bag. Cut calamari tubes into ½ inch rings trim tentacles.

2. Add calamari rings into the bag and shake evenly coating the calamari. Shake off excess flour.

3. Add ½ pound squid to skillet when oil is very hot.

4. Cook until crisp and brown (approx. 1 ½ minutes). Remove from oil and drain on paper towels, add the rest of squid to oil and repeat.

5. Sautee fresh chopped garlic in oil.

6. Add all peppers and tablespoon pepperoncini juice and heat.

7. Add calamari, evenly coating rings and tents. Serve.