Sometimes, all an eatery needs is one really popular dish — done well and offered in myriad varieties.
Here are just three of the many dish-driven places to eat on Long Island.
Take a trip around the world with noodles at this popular spot where you order at the register and are handed a number. Then, your food is delivered to your table. For most choices, you pick a protein — such as pork, steak, shrimp or tofu — for a composed pasta dish. Among choices: Japanese pan noodles, Wisconsin mac and cheese, pad Thai and spaghetti and meatballs. There are a few non-noodle options, too.
The Gallery at Westbury Plaza, 996 Old Country Rd., Garden City, 516-794-4942, noodles.com
Tucked into a Ronkonkoma strip mall is this casual counter-service spot with a long list of empanadas. One favorite, among many, is the traditional ground beef empanada with owner Roy Pelaez's secret sofrito sauce. Also up for grabs: chicken chipotle, spicy cheese and loaded potato empanadas.
601-13 Portion Rd., Ronkonkoma, 631-617-6427, islandempanada.com
At this hip downtown Patchogue spot devoted to meatballs, you can go with the classic version, made with beef, veal and pork. Or you can branch out and try chicken balls, veggie balls, Moroccan lamb balls and even lobster risotto balls. Have them with sauce over pasta, in sandwiches or salads. And keep an eye out for a new branch, coming to Farmingdale soon.
54 W. Main St., Patchogue, 631-569-5888, thatmeetballplaceli.com
This clever and casual spot offers counterside service and comfort foods. Try the "all American" mac and cheese, made with two kinds of Cheddar, or opt for the Wisconsin melt, featuring Cheddar on Pullman white bread if you're craving your cheese on a sandwich.
684 Stewart Ave., Garden City, 855-622-6358, macnmelts.com