Who can forget Forrest Gump's lovable "best good friend," Bubba? Without him, we'd probably never be so familiar with the countless ways to prepare shrimp: barbecued, boiled, broiled, baked, sauteed, shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo.

But let's face it. Like most food, shrimp tastes best when fried. Even though the clam shacks are shuttered for the winter, you can still find great fried shrimp on many landlubber menus here in Connecticut.

Side Street Grille
15 Dickerman St., Hamden
(203) 407-1539
Coconut and buffalo shrimp, $8.95 per order

Just a few minutes from Quinnipiac University, this full-of-personality neighborhood pub serves up three varieties of fried shrimp: regular, with tartar and/or cocktail sauce; coconut, with a spicy marmalade; and buffalo, paired with chunky bleu cheese and celery sticks. We chose flavor over tradition and weren't disappointed. Each order consisted of ten huge, tender shrimp. The coconut ones were coated in a thick batter with tasty coconut shreds. Incredibly delicious on their own, they were even better with the dipping sauce.

Their buffalo counterparts were a scrumptious alternative to the ubiquitous chicken wing. Breaded lightly and slathered in sauce, the hot shrimp cooled off nicely with the bleu cheese. The standard buffalo sauce had a definite kick, but for those who like to sweat, the menu also offers a "Demon" heat option. Proceed with caution.

Uno Chicago Grill
1500 New Britain Ave, Westfarms Mall, Farmington
(860) 561-3113
Fried shrimp trio appetizer, $7.49

Uno Chicago Grill is legendary for its deep-dish pizzas, so we were surprised to see a fried-shrimp trio on their appetizer list. The menu promised three great tastes: buttermilk-battered, mango-ginger, and pineapple-orange, with sides of cocktail sauce and sweet Mandarin dressing. The platter contained twelve small shrimp and one side of cocktail sauce--but nothing resembling Mandarin. The buttermilk coating was nice and crunchy, but just a little too reminiscent of fried chicken.

The remaining shrimp could probably be best described as vaguely fruit-flavored, as there was no clear distinction between mango-ginger and pineapple-orange. Overall, the appetizer was decent, but next time, we'll stick to the pizza.

Buona Vita
284 North Maple St., Enfield
(860) 749-5903
Coconut shrimp appetizer special, $7.99

Buona Vita ("The Good Life") is hidden away in a tiny plaza about a mile from the Massachusetts border, but the parking lot is jam-packed every Friday night. Regulars love their creative pizzas and pastas and enormous portions of classic Italian favorites. Every so often, a coconut shrimp appetizer pops up on the specials menu, to the sheer delight of those in the know.