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What: Stuffed quahogs, or stuffies, are popular elsewhere in New England, but only in Rhode Island are there annual Quahog festivals (in Warren) and a fictional town called Quahog in a popular American TV show (Family Guy). Quahogs, of course, are the large hard-shelled clams native to this area, the ones used in the chowders and clam cakes. “Quahog” comes from the Narragansett Indian name "poquaûhock"; the Narragansetts cultivated the clams for food and ornaments, and introduced them to the area’s first European settlers. For this dish, the clam meat gets chopped up and mixed with bread crumbs, herbs, and finely diced onion, bell pepper, and celery. The whole savory mess is then baked in a clam shell—and devoured across the region.
Where: We have eaten our share of stuffies in New England and can say with confidence that the specimen offered at East Providence’s Red Bridge Tavern (22 Waterman Ave., map) is among the best we’ve had. The low-key, local atmosphere of this place is appealing as well.
When: Daily, 11:30am-10pm; open till 11:30pm on Fridays
Order: The “world-famous” stuffie ($3.25 each) here includes chopped local quahog, crabmeat, and shrimp. Beyond that, our server would not reveal any ingredients, but we detected chopped onion, parsley, bread crumbs of course, and a nice spice, likely from red pepper. It’s all blended together so smoothly that it’s difficult to pull out the individual components, but man, is it good. Hard to have just one. Also good and Rhode Island-local here are the steamed littlenecks with linguiça (a tasty Portuguese sausage traditional to these parts) and the linguiça and peppers grinder, the local term for a sandwich on a long roll (see also: hoagie, sub sandwich, po’boy).
Alternatively: These are pretty common across the state, and it might be argued that it’s most fitting to grab some in a super-casual fish joint by the coast. Down by the water in Warwick, we liked the paprika-flecked stuffie at Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowderhouse (two locations including 889 Oakland Beach Ave., Warwick, map); similar is Aunt Carrie’s Seafood Restaurant (1240 Ocean Rd., Point Judith, map), family-owned since 1920 in Narangansett. In Middletown, just north of Newport, we’ve heard good things about fish market/cafe Anthony’s Seafood (963 Aquidneck Ave., map), where the stuffie includes chourico (Portuguese chorizo) and was featured on the Food Network.
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