Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese - New York, NY
45 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212-358-7912, 212-358-7917
In one sentence: what a treat! We went to Sarita's Mac & Cheese on a Saturday early afternoon expecting to find really good macaroni and cheese. Why else would a restaurateur open a place with only one main feature if that feature wasn't absolutely spectacular, was my thought. Alas, Sarita's does not disappoint. I had a difficult time choosing which particular "flavor" of macaroni to sample, but finally settled upon the Masala Macaroni (listed as a special). I love Macaroni and have some expertise on Indian food, so I thought to myself what better dish to try. My friend ordered the "Garden (Lite)" which was advertised as containing cheddar, Parmesan, roasted cauliflower, portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, broccoli and scallions. The lady at the cash register was friendly and quite helpful. The advertised sizes are Nosh, Major Munch, and Mongo. After being shown the sizes and keeping in mind my healthy appetite, I still chose Nosh, the smallest of the sizes, for $6.75. Perhaps alluding to by gently protruding belly, the lady helping me with my selection kidded me for not ordering a healthier portion -- which to me had seemed far too large.
Upon ordering, we found a spot in the small and somewhat crowded seating area (where, surprisingly, everyone who needed a seat found one) and settled in with our chosen sodas. Our order was delivered to our table by a different but equally friendly member of the restaurant staff. The orders come hot in cast iron skillets with handle protectors and wooden skillet pads. My Masala Macaroni was delicious -- a spicy blend (at least in comparison with non-masala enabled macaroni) of interesting flavors that remained true to the calling of good 'ole mac & cheese. My friend's Garden (Lite) mac & cheese, while still good, was less than captivating. It was a good blend, but lacked the flavor and excitement of the masala.
As we ate, we saw a constant flow of diners -- some, like us, coming to see the fascination of a new New York eatery focusing on the basics. "Is this like the PB&J place? No, that's a different owner."
I would have enjoyed having a greater selection of sides -- chips, fries, or beer and wine are not available. That said, as a spot for a quick and tasty bite, Sarita's is a good choice. Beware of take-out though. The novelty of the cuisine -- and the experience -- is lost when you get foil containers with the same stuff delivered home. I tried it, and promptly lowered my grade of Sarita's (which was an A- to a B+).