As long as there have been restaurants, there have been speciality shops: pizzerias, burger joints, hot-doggerys. But a number of New York restaurants take that specialization thing way further. A spot that serves only baked potatoes? One that gives you meatballs, any way you want — but nothing else? Yes, please. Here are five one-dish restaurants to know, from the newest to the longtime favorites.
The name’s a little clunky, but the concept’s quite simple. Pick any manner of potato — baked, baked sweet potato, smashed potatoes, several kinds of fries, potatoes au gratin — and pile them with all the toppings and sauces you want. Or opt for one of their composed signature menu items like the Comatoser: skin-on potato chips with cheddar, asiago, pepperjack, green onions, red onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, broccoli, bacon, melted cheddar, roasted pepper and ranch. Phew. 378 Sixth Ave., 212-260-4100, potatopia.com
From one little venue on the Lower East Side, the Meatball Shop became a phenomenon — they’ve now got a cookbook, endless press coverage and five shops in two boroughs. What explains the popularity? Delicious meatballs, of course — available in several different proteins, with many different sauces, on sandwiches or pasta or polenta. Multiple locations in the West Village, Chelsea, Williamsburg, Upper East Side, and Lower East Side; themeatballshop.com
Rice to Riches
Is rice pudding popular enough to sustain its own shop? For years now in Soho, the answer has been “yes.” Expect as many flavors as you’ll find in a typical ice cream shop, from Fluent in French Toast to Sex, Drugs, and Rocky Road–all scooped into space-agey reusable containers that fit the weird aesthetic of the place. 37 Spring St.; 212-274-0008; ricetoriches.com
Judging by the success of S’MAC, crave-able, lovable, good old mac ‘n cheese is here to stay. You can get your classic orange cheddar-laced stuff here, but consider branching out to the internationally inspired macs: bacon-Gruyere in the Alpine, and Manchego-fennel in the La Mancha, and even an Indian spiced version. Multiple locations; smacnyc.com
But if anything is as universally appealing as mac ‘n cheese, it’s a grilled cheese sandwich. Several grilled cheese specialty shops have opened up of late, but Melt Shop is among the better — with a menu that ranges from the reasonably predictable Three Cheese (Gruyere, Havarti, goat cheeses) and Wisconsin Classic (cheddar, tomato, bacon) to the Buffalo Blue (breaded tenders, buffalo sauce and blue cheese) and cheesy breakfast sandwiches. Multiple locations, meltshopnyc.com