The humble potato rarely gets the respect it deserves. The six dishes that follow, however, elevate the potato to something worthy of worship, or at least happy gobbling. By Jessica Allen.
Not a dish for the faint of heart (or taste bud), the lemon potatoes at Taverna Kyclades live up to their name. At this Greek restaurant in Astoria, the spuds are roasted to almost-softness, then spritzed, slathered, and sauced with lemons, lots and lots of lemons. The citric acid brightens the potatoes’ inherent blandness, the potatoes give the lemon flavor some structure. Lip-puckeringly good.
Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, boasts many Polish restaurants, but we prefer Lomzynianka, in part for its potato pancakes. Their fluffy crunchiness always makes us wonder why potato pancakes are often relegated in the United States to the December holidays. This restaurant makes the case for serving them year-round. A couple will set you back $5.50—one of the best, most filling deals in the city.
Shoko sil sil ngoe ma keeps us up at night. Well, not solely the dish itself, but also scheduling and train routes and wondering about exactly when and how we can next get to Phayul, the Himalayan restaurant in Jackson Heights where it’s served. Potatoes get sliced thin, then wok-fried with green peppers and Sichuan pepper, a salty, fiery mishmash, the culinary equivalent of a Black Sabbath concert. Temper the incredible spice with glasses of butter tea and sides of vegetable momos (dumplings).
The patate salsiccia e provola at Zero Otto Nove, a pizza place on famed Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, troubled us at first. Potatoes on pizza? Isn’t that a little like adding sugar to a bowl of Lucky Charms? But the smoked mozzarella speaks to the sausage, and the smoothness of the roasted potatoes doesn’t compete with the chewiness of the doughy crust. Potatoes on pizza? Why, yes, thank you for asking. Too many carbs might never be enough.
India knows a thing or two about potatoes. The Gujarathi Thali combination platter at Tiffin Wallah offers two types: undhiyu and batata va. Undhiyu, a stew, generally uses several kinds of tubers, including sweet potato, along with eggplant and lentils; the result is rich and buttery. The deep fried batata vada cracks to reveal an interior of gently mashed potatoes, flavored with chilies, curry leaves, onions, mustard seeds, and turmeric. Best when dipped into mint chutney.
OK, so potatoes might not be the star here, but they are an integral component of Corsino’s grilled octopus entree, counterbalancing the octopus’s firm meatiness. And, like an obedient child, the potatoes also soak up what’s given to them, in this case a sweet, spicy, gently acidic sauce. Make sure to save some bread to mop up every single bite and to sit close to the large windows at this trattoria to watch the West Village walking by.