When cheese meets pasta, beautiful things can happen. And while some restaurants keep their macaroni and cheese dishes perfectly simple, others excel at versions that add everything from bacon to duck to lobster.
All of these recommended mac-and-cheeses are worth the calories. We promise.
Selections by Newsday's food staff.
Dang BBQ (174 Islip Ave., Islip): At this barbecue spot, "smokehouse mac & cheese lasagna" is served in a hot skillet. It boasts layers of lasagna noodles stuffed with macaroni and cheese and pulled pork, and topped with bacon. More info: 631-581-3264, dangbbq.com
The Shed (54 New St., Huntington): Skillet mac-and-cheese is laced with bits of bacon, corn, slivered jalapenos and scallions at this Huntington eatery. (Other location at 21 Main St., West Sayville) More info: 631-385-7433, intheshed.com
St. James Public House
St. James Public House (552 North Country Rd., St. James): Applewood-smoked bacon macaroni and cheese is made with three cheeses (American, Cheddar and Monterey jack) and topped with a potato-chip crust at this eatery. More info: 631-250-9900, stjamespublichouse.com
Crabtree's New York & Main
Crabtree's New York & Main (330 New York Ave., Huntington): Short rib mac and Cheez-Its here features a gooey mass of shells slathered in molten, velvety Cheddar and luscious shreds of short rib, showered with crumbled Cheez-Its -- like a childhood dream in a bowl. More info: 631-923-0920, crabtreesnyandmain.com
Main Road Biscuit Co.
Main Road Biscuit Co. (1601 Main Rd., Jamesport): Marissa's mac-and-cheese comes to the table bubbling hot in a generously sized cast-iron skillet at Main Road Biscuit Co. Topped with toasted biscuit crumbs, the macaroni is coated in a winning combination of creamy Cheddar and Gruyère. More info: 631-779-3463, mainroadbiscuitco.com
Schout Bay Tavern
Schout Bay Tavern (118 Plandome Rd., Manhasset): The mac-and-cheese with pork belly and panko crumbs at this ultra-hip spot is lush and addictive. More info: 516-627-2190, schoutbaytavern.com
Mac & Melts
Mac and Melts (684 Stewart Ave., Garden City): If you can't decide which variety to order -- the Southwestern with crushed tortilla chips and andouille sausage, the Alpine with Gruyere and smoked Gouda, the Buffalo chicken -- the M&M sampler features a taste of eight varieties of mac and cheese, served in a segmented cast iron skillet. More info: 516-246-9610, macnmelts.com
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint (4847 Merrick Rd., Massapequa Park): The al dente macaroni and cheese at this barbecue spot is impossible to stop eating. More info: 516-799-4900, smokinals.com
PeraBell Food Bar
PeraBell Food Bar (multiple locations): The four-cheese mac and cheese at this top-notch gastropub includes bacon and chives. Locations at 65 E. Main St., Riverhead, and 69 E. Main St., Patchogue. More info: perabellfoodbar.com
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ (909 West Beach St., Long Beach): One specialty that should not be missed at this eatery is the opulent "mac and Pete," a bowl of creamy, al dente mac and cheese laced with brisket burnt ends, topped with crisp fried onions and served with a warm square of cornbread. More info: 516-431-3464, swingbellyslongbeach.com
George Martin's Grillfire
George Martin's Grillfire (33 Sunrise Hwy., Merrick): The self-described "world's best" mac and cheese is a bowl of creamy goodness topped with toasted herb breadcrumbs. Optional: the addition of Sloppy Joe beef. More info: 516-379-2222, georgemartinsgrillfire.com
Mario's (multiple locations): The macaroni and cheese pizza -- with or without bacon -- started as a special, but is now being served indefinitely. Delectably gooey and rich, we love the clean, simple comfort of meatless elbows enrobed in a confluence of mozzarella, Cheddar and Mexican cheeses. (Not that the bacon version doesn't have its own smoky-salty merits.) There are locations in Commack (17 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy,), Melville (1-17 Schwab Rd.) and East Northport (311 Larkfield Rd.). More info: mariospizzeria.com
The Good Life
The Good Life (1039 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park): The British-style pub makes a three-cheese sauce mac-and-cheese with a panko-English Cheddar crust. More info: 516-798-4663, thegoodlifeny.com
Old Fields (multiple locations): Here, the macaroni and cheese employs orecchiette pasta baked with Cheddar, fontina and Parmesan cheeses and topped with crusted breadcrumbs and herbs. There are locations in Greenlawn (81 Broadway) and Port Jefferson (318 Wynn Ln.). More info: of1956.com
Sapsuckers Hops & Grub
Sapsuckers Hops & Grub (287 Main St., Huntington): A menu of modern comfort classics (plus an impressive roster of interesting craft beers) includes elbow macaroni in a four-cheese sauce with truffle essence and a herb-breadcrumb crust. More info: 631-683-4945, sapsuckersli.com