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Top LI restaurants for inventive macaroni and cheese

Sweet and Salty Dirty Ribs, lacquered in hoisin

Sweet and Salty Dirty Ribs, lacquered in hoisin sauce and topped with crumbled feta cheese, is a surprising but successful combination. This dish is served with a side of mac and cheese at DirtyBurger in Plainview. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Inventive versions of that childhood classic, macaroni and cheese, have been on the Long Island dining scene for a while. Yet, diners still can't wait to get a taste of the newest variations.

Here are four new takes on an old favorite:

MARA'S TOO, 3261 Merrick Rd., Wantagh, 516-785-5300

At the new Wantagh spinoff of her Syosset Cajun-Southern restaurant, Mara Levi offers a crawfish-studded mac and cheese that's as rich as it is comforting. Order a casserole for the table to share. $12

BBD'S -- BEERS BURGERS DESSERTS, 49 Rte. 25A, Rocky Point, 631-849-1620

Chef-owner Ralph Perrazzo offers an opulent bacon-and-pretzel-crusted mac and cheese at his hip new beer-and-burger spot. $9

DIRTYBURGER, 12 Manetto Hill Rd., Plainview, 516-595-7399

Chef Ian Russo's "dirty" blend of spices -- a list of ingredients headed by cayenne pepper -- plays into almost every dish on the menu of his burger-centric restaurant. It works especially well in his al dente mac and cheese, a successful side dish. $4

CHOW DOWN DINER, 4011 Hempstead Tpke., Bethpage, 516-597-5310

Chef Steven Del Lima presents a well-edited repertoire of cleverly tweaked American classics at diner prices at the sleek spot with a contemporary-retro vibe. Mac and cheese, available many ways, excels when laced with lobster meat, Fontina cheese and prosciutto. $9.50 classic, $12.50 truffle, $12.95 lobster

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