The recommendations of several friends for a seafood eatery caught my attention with their descriptions of thin-battered fish and chips. But it was another item from the online menu of Anthony’s Seafood that sealed the deal: kung pao calamari! We grabbed our most calamari-loving friends and headed to Middletown.
|Anthony’s Seafood | 963 Aquidneck Ave, | Middletown | Mon-Sat, 11 am-8 pm; Sun, 12-7 pm | Major credit cards | Beer + wine | Sidewalk-level access | 401.848.5058|
Anthony’s is a large seafood market that expanded into take-out items, then booths for eating-in, and now, two spacious dining areas. Beloved by locals and those-in-the-know, it was doing a thriving business on New Year’s Eve, when we arrived for lunch (entrées are served all day long).
We looked around and took in the system. Grab a paper menu to peruse, and when your table has made all of its decisions, designate someone to go up to the counter to place the order. Anthony’s saves on servers (and passes that along in its bargain prices), but doesn’t stint on expert cooks or friendly staff who circulate to check on diners’ questions and ancillary needs (more napkins, water, tartar sauce, etc.).
There was no question that one of our starters would be the aforementioned calamari ($8.95), with hot peppers, peanuts, and scallions, all of it tossed with a plum chili sauce. The squid rings themselves (no tentacles, yeah!) were crisp and dry on the outside, very tender on the inside, and the sauce was a perfect complement.
Our chowders preceded the calamari, with Gary and Marie sharing a New England clam chowder (cup: $3.25; bowl: $4.50), that he pronounced “not phony thick, with a real bacon taste.” Bill was happily downing the Portuguese fish chowder with shrimp, scallops, cod, and chourico, exclaiming over its nice spice and its generous portion of seafood.
Next we studied the grilled dinners, grilled sandwiches, “fried classics,” lobster variations, and baked dinners. Marie and Bill chose from the classics: flounder and chips ($7.95) for her, and the large order of fried oysters ($8.95 fox six ounces, or $15.95 for 12 ounces) for him. Cod is used for the regular fish and chips, but both are lightly dusted with flour and delicately fried, as were the oysters. None of the fried items seemed greasy at all. And Bill’s oysters were so plentiful, they provided him with two additional at-home meals, complete with extra horseradish sauce.
Gary and I tried to keep our culinary cool in the company of two fried-food fanatics. From five grilled sandwich options, including chicken, a salmon burger, and salmon or swordfish steak, he chose the tuna ($8.50), served with red pepper mayo and a grilled Bermuda onion. Gary was very pleased by the portion and the careful grilling that delivered his requested “medium.”
I often look at stuffed sole on menus but can’t order it if it has crab in the stuffing, because of an allergy. Assured that this contained only shrimp, scallops, bread crumbs, and herbs, I took the plunge. Two stuffed sole fillets ($13.95) with lobster sauce — creamy with lobster stock — were delicious, and they were joined by oven-roasted potatoes and grilled zucchini. The veggies were as nicely prepared as the fish.
The main dining room has nine large booths and a very high ceiling, with windows about seven feet off the floor, casting lots of light into the cavernous space and offering deep sills for nautical knick-knacks. The walls are hung with beer signs, wooden replicas of clam shack signs, two large mounted fish, and several framed pictures of the Three Stooges (there’s another behind the ordering counter).
Desserts include cheesecake, fried dough with strawberries, Key Lime pie, packaged brownies, and, in season, cookies-and-cream ice cream sandwiches. Fried dough is the only house-made dessert, but we were too sated to try it.
The menu holds so many possibilities to try on a return visit, especially the grilled tuna with an apricot-ginger teriyaki glaze, whole-belly fried clams, a fisherman’s platter (to share with three people, I could safely assume!), and the sea scallops Florentine. The steamers and mussels hide in the lobster section of the menu, but two pounds of mussels for $6.50 is a steal. Shore dinners, with or without lobster, and lobster rolls, also beckon.
And so does a more thorough look at Anthony’s Seafood market itself. The refrigerated cases display a wide variety of fin and shellfish, plus several prepared entrees from the menu to take and bake at home.
The whole experience of Anthony’s, from market to menu, is so engaging, and this eatery exudes such a bustling cheerfulness that our quartet left with a lilt in our steps and a smile on our faces.
On the Web
Anthony's Seafood: anthonysseafood.net