I've always liked the heavy-duty dishware used in restaurants and hotels. Where can I find this stuff?
If you're looking for some industrial-strength crockery to go with your restaurant range and Sub-Zero refrigerator, there are restaurant-supply stores that sell heat-tempered, commercial-quality dinnerware by the plate or by the dozen.
The Broadway Panhandler (477 Broome Street, 212-966-0121), which supplies Balthazar and the SoHo Grand Hotel, stocks the ultra-durable Oneida XXL, a 16-piece genuine porcelain set that's elegant enough for dinner with your mother-in-law but can be safely handled by your six-year-old ($49.95 a set).
At Fishs Eddy (2176 Broadway, at 77th Street, 212-873-8819; 889 Broadway, at 19th Street, 212-420-9020; 60 Mercer, 212-226-4711), you'll find plates from the 1999 American Academy of Chefs dinner ($18) or official blue-and-white governor-of-West Virginia plates ($24) tightly stacked in corners. Babbo's oversized pasta platters, emblazoned with phrases like l'appetito viene mangiando (appetite comes with eating), can also be bought here. Prices range from $36 for a pasta bowl to $56 for a round serving platter.
Balter Sales Company (209 Bowery, 212-674-2960) sells seven hotel patterns made to order by Villeroy & Boch, including the Animal Park and La Mer designs (starting at $60 a plate). Homer Laughlin's American bone china in teal, cobalt, and turquoise is also available ($18.95).