For me, the taste of Summertime in New England is Fried Whole Belly Clams. They're an acquired taste, and for most of the residents outside of the Northeast that grew up on plain clam strips, a revelation.

Just like the soft-shell crab, you actually eat the entire animal, and biting into a whole belly clam? The clam is still full of whatever it ate, so you get an indescribable burst of intense ocean flavor in every bite.

You'll typically find two styles of clams on the menu here in most New England restaurants and clam shacks: Clam Strips are breaded cuts of large Atlantic Surf Clams. Whole Belly Clams are cleaned, intact, breaded Ipswich/soft-shell/steamer clams. I recently purchased a couple dozen steamer clams from Big Y, here's a photo of them:

Photo by Large 'Ipswich' Dave
Photo by Large 'Ipswich' Dave

Ethan Carey wrote an article about Connecticut's great Lobster Roll joints, and it started me thinking that fried whole bellies are actually kind of difficult to find among all of the places that sell boring old clam strips here in Connecticut. So, I gathered up a few of my favorite places from all around the state, not just on the shoreline, where you can get these delicious beauties:

The 10 Best Places to Buy Whole Belly Clams in Connecticut

Where did I miss? Where are your favorite places to eat whole belly clams?

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