Clam strips, like these cornflour-battered deep-fried babies (sandwich, $5.99), are cut from the bivalve's muscular foot. Often the species at issue is the Atlantic surf clam, which former summer campers of a certain age will remember, from arts and crafts, as the key component of a common gift for parents, an ashtray.
Clam bellies incorporate all the fleshy parts of the animal, including the gastrointestinal tract (but sometimes excluding the chewy siphon). Usually these are prepared using Ipswich clams, also called softshells, steamers, and longnecks. Mature specimens are considerably smaller than surf clams and so can be deep-fried, whole, with no concern that they might burst in the deep-fryer or remain mushy at heart.
Most fried-clam connoisseurs favor bellies over strips for their brinier, some say fuller flavor. (Both are available at Boulevard Clams.) It's an interesting preference for internal organs over muscle meat, not unlike favoring beef liver over filet mignon or chitterlings over pork loin. That said, these clam strips tasted mighty fine; the LBI ocean breeze makes all the difference.
2006 North Long Beach Blvd. (at 20th St.), Surf City, New Jersey