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Looking for the best R.I. clam cakes? Ask The Clamarati

One of Aunt Carrie's famous clam cakes, with the landmark shack in the background.
One of Aunt Carrie's famous clam cakes, with the landmark shack in the background.Photo courtesy of Renee Bessette

This article originally appeared in the Rhode Map newsletter. If you would like to get the newsletter as a convenient e-mail Monday through Friday, just sign up here.


Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Ed Fitzpatrick and I say newsrooms should take a page from the Red Sox and give reporters laundry cart rides for stories that are home runs. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 153,103 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 132 new cases since July 15. The overall daily test-positive rate was 1.5 percent. The state announced one new death over the weekend, bringing the total to 2,737. There were 18 people in the hospital, and 648,670 residents were fully vaccinated. Check our dashboard for more data.


In summertime, Rhode Islanders clamor for clam cakes. So each year, as a public service of sorts, a group of friends who call themselves “The Clamarati” embark on a day-long journey to sample, critique, and rank clam cakes throughout our tiny land.

The pandemic forced the group to call off last year’s clam shack tour. But on July 10 the group declared, “We are back from the Clamdemic!”

“The Clamarati sounded the conch and convened with five courageous and fully vaccinated crawlers for a gastronomical road rally of epic proportions that was the 7th Annual Lil Rhody Clam Cake Crawl,” the group wrote in a blog post.

Providence resident Renee Bessette and Riverside residents Joe and Carol Mecca launched the first clam cake crawl in 2014, and this year the trio was joined by the co-authors of “Rhode Island Clam Shacks,” Johnston’s Christopher Martin and Cumberland’s David Norton Stone.

Over the years, the clam cake connoisseurs have visited 30 shacks, and their travels have revealed some timeless truths: “No two clam cakes are alike,” Bessette observed in a Vice “Munchies” video, “even within the same batch.”


This year, the Clamarati “sensed a duty to visit something old, something new, something bilvalved, something [out of the] blue.” So they stopped at some past Top 5 finishers, a few shacks they hadn’t seen in awhile, and some new joints.

Their sophisticated scoring system weighed factors such as clam-to-cake ratio (C2Cr), “tenderocity,” and the all-important “clambiance,” which answers the question: “As an overall experience, would you go here again?”

In true Rhode Island fashion, the taste testers washed down the clam cakes with cold tallboys provided by the group’s “official sponsor,” Narragansett Beer, and some Del’s frozen lemonade.

”It was the best of clam cakes, it was the worst of clam cakes,” they wrote. “There were the hot, crispy, freshly made, and the heat-lamped warmed.”

At the end of the day -- and it was a long day -- the winner was Aunt Carrie’s, a Point Judith point of pride that took the top ranking for the fifth time. Going forward, Aunt Carrie’s will be retired from competition and considered “mercenaria emeritus,” Bessette said. “We’ll still visit her because she’s the gold standard for what a clam cake should be.”

Without further ado, here are the 2021 clam cake rankings:

  1. Aunt Carrie’s / Point Judith
  2. Two Little Fish / Westerly
  3. Quito’s / Bristol
  4. The Hitching Post / Charlestown
  5. Salty’s Clam Shack / Westerly
  6. Evelyn’s Drive-In / Tiverton
  7. Amaral’s / Warren
  8. Tommy’s World Famous Clam Shack / Warwick
  9. Chevy’s Shack at Gardner’s Wharf / Wickford
  10. Cap’n Jacks / Wakefield

In all, the clam cake crew covered 137 miles in 13 cities and towns over the course of nine hours. “We did it so you don’t have to,” they wrote. “You’re welcome.”


⚓ My colleague Brian Amaral reports that students in Bristol and Warren public schools will no longer have to go to school on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The regional district’s superintendent, Jonathan Brice, delayed the first day of school by one day following backlash in the local Jewish community in these two East Bay towns. Read more.


⚓ Amanda Milkovits has a story about how the police on Block Island have seized more than 40 rental mopeds since June 1 after riders were seen driving erratically. The latest crackdown came Sunday, when New Shoreham police seized 21 mopeds, mostly from a group seen weaving in traffic, standing up while riding, and not wearing helmets. Read more.

⚓ Speaking of Block Island, four great white sharks were detected swimming off the island recently, “pinging” acoustic receivers in the area, the Atlantic Shark Institute announced. Read more.

⚓ A correctional officer and two detainees at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility are among those charged with participating in a scheme to smuggle Suboxone into the Central Falls detention center, Acting US Attorney Richard B. Myrus announced. Read more.

⚓ Civics proficiency will now be a requirement for all Rhode Island public high school students, under a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Hanna M. Gallo, a Cranston Democrat, and Representative Brian C. Newberry, a North Smithfield Republican. Read more.

Alexa Gagosz reports that the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts has awarded 156 grants totaling nearly $880,000. Read more.

⚓ The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island is calling for the City of Cranston to halt what it says is an illegal traffic stop quota by its police department. Read more.



Crime: My colleagues Shelley Murphy and John R. Ellement dig into the 300 pages of heavily redacted documents that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released detailing its connections to the late South Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger. Read more.

Coronavirus: It’s “aboot” time to visit our neighbors to the north: Canada will begin letting fully vaccinated US citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7. Read more.

Business: Following a wave of online criticism, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s will no longer allow its ice cream to be sold in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Read more.

Environment: David Abel reports that New Hampshire residents are battling against a proposed new landfill that would bring in more than 100 heavy trucks every day, mostly from out of state. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ Governor Daniel J. McKee and Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos are holding their weekly press briefing at 2 p.m.

⚓ At 2:30 p.m., US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and fellow co-chair Senator Chuck Grassley will hold a Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing on “The Federal Response to the Drug Overdose Epidemic.” Witnesses will include Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and former state senator Tom Coderre, now acting deputy assistant secretary for mental health and substance use. The hearing will be livestreamed.


⚓ At 2 p.m., New England Patriots Foundation president Josh Kraft, Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, and others will be at Roger Williams Park as the Patriots Foundation presents a $30,000 donation to the Providence After School Alliance to help bridge the “digital divide.”

⚓ At 10 a.m., the State Properties Committee meets to consider, among other items, preliminary approval for the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to advertise nine group homes for public sale.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com or follow me on Twitter @FitzProv. See you tomorrow.

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Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.