Everyone has their dish. It’s the one dish so delicious, so completely fulfilling, that when they go to the restaurant that not only serves that dish but serves the perfect version, they can’t escape ordering it every time. My roommate Heather is an extreme dish loyalist- only the chow fun noodles at Lovely Day, and the gnocchi at Lil Frankies. My dear friend Dave is another example- at Gotham Bar and Grill he doesn’t even peruse the menu anymore…only the tuna tartare and the pork chop, with onion rings please, will do. Sometimes they will sheepishly admit they should try something else, but mostly they are unapologetic. It raises a question that’s not just limited to eating: when you find something you love, do you stop there? Or do you keep seeking out new, possibly better things?
I asked myself this at a recent dinner at Morandi because I am obsessed with the fava bean salad. I can’t not order it when I go there. It is this: escarole, fava beans, mint, pecorino cheese, olive oil and lemon. Simple, fresh, beautiful. I know I should one day try something else, but when the time comes to order, the only words that come out are “fava bean salad, please.”
I enjoy trying new things, if I didn’t I would still believe a perfect dinner meant Velveeta shells and cheese. But there is something wonderful about committing to a dish you love. It’s a sign of maturity, but also of security and comfort. Loving food (in a much lighter way, I know) is like loving a person. I guess as long as a dish makes you happy, it’s okay to stop trying other things for awhile. Just like dating.
P.S…other places with dishes that make me blind to all other things..
-Spotted Pig: the burger. It will kill me one day, but I love it anyway.
-Landmarc: moule frites in the dijonnaise sauce. Rich, creamy, garlicky, tangy mustard broth teeming with plump mussels, served with a basket of crispy fries, and to really sop it all up, half a loaf of super crusty delish bread. (*I can only assert the brilliance of this dish at the Tribeca location.)
-Frankies Spuntino: the meatballs are spectacular.