Welcome to the ninth Edible Eat of the Week! A recurring series, Edible Eat of the Week celebrates the bounty of Long Island by showcasing special, seasonal eats and the people who make them.
The Eat: Famous, fried Ipswich clams.
The Place: Bigelow’s Famous Ipswich Clams and Seafood in Rockville Centre.
The Story: Google “Ipswich Clams.” I dare you. The first image you’re likely to encounter is one of the famed Clam Box, which is a restaurant in the shape of a paper takeout container. In summer, that restaurant’s line snakes down the winding road, practically into traffic. That’s because the clams of Ipswich, Massachusetts are the best anywhere, and I will peaceably disagree with anyone who says otherwise. Thank you to Rockville Centre’s Bigelow’s Famous Ipswich Clams and Seafood for building an entire restaurant around this personal passion project of mine.
Here’s what you’re coming for: Whole-bellied, fried Ipswich clams, served using the same recipe that has been used way back since 1939. Get them either with French fries, cole slaw, or a lettuce and tomato salad. Bigelow’s also sells clam strips, but I’m 38 and have never had a clam strip and am not about to start now. What exactly is a clam strip, anyway? You can also get an Ipswich clam sandwich, to which you can add cheese, another choice that is decidedly un-New England. Oh, and there’s an Ipswich fried clam appetizer, if you’re feeling merely peckish. You’ll find clam chowder, naturally (the white, real kind, and also that not real, red kind that New Yorkers prefer).
Does it compare to Ipswich’s Clam Box, that iconic representation of fried clam perfection? Only you can be the judge of that. But for Long Island, Bigelow’s serves what can only be called real deal New England fried clams. There are few places like this on the Island. And yes, before you ask—the big, fat bellies really are the best part. Especially the extra sandy ones.
Read more about Rockville Centre in our archives here.