“Comfort me with apples” is among verses that sing from the Song of Solomon. But today, imagine a loaded macaroni and cheese, maybe meatloaf and mashed potatoes — neither as poetic nor as symbolic, but something to love.
Seasoned with sentiment, full of nostalgia, feel-good foods are the kitchen’s stress busters, refreshing and bracing you for winter’s deepest freeze and this week’s latest strains and traumas. They return you to a happy place and time.
Comfort foods are worldwide, from puddings in the United Kingdom to curries in India, ramen in Japan to spuds everywhere. Naturally, they’re often loaded with carbs, higher than usual in calories and always exactly what you need.
Here are 10 comfort foods that are popular on Long Island and restaurants where you’ll enjoy them.
Yes, you’re feeling better already. Pass the biscuits and gravy, those fries and that chili, too.
Macaroni and cheese
The Shed in Huntington livens up its artful, skillet version of macaroni and cheese, enriched with corn, jalapeños, bacon and scallions, ensuring you get your essential daily quota of each.
The Shed, 54 New St., Huntington, 631-385-7433; intheshed.com
Hush Bistro in Huntington makes it a multi-cheese affair, embracing the ditalini with English peas, bacon bits, smoked Gouda, Fontina, Gruyère, cave-aged white Cheddar, cream cheese in the béchamel sauce and a cornbread crumble. Addictive.
Hush Bistro, 46 Gerard St., Huntington; 631-824-6350, reststarinc.com
Swingbellys in Long Beach ups the ante with Mac ’n Pete, which adds brisket burned ends to the macaroni and cheese, then gilds the whole thing with crisp onions and cornbread.
Swingbellys BBQ, 909 W. Beech St., Long Beach; 516-431-3464, swingbellysbbq.com
Emilio’s in Commack offers all-beef, oven-roasted meatballs with Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, in photo. They spend up to eight hours in the tomato sauce. Have the Mamma Mia Meatballs appetizer, with ricotta, roasted peppers and garlic bread. It could be a main course.
Emilio’s, 2201 Jericho Tpke., Commack; 631-462-6267, emilios-restaurant.com
Cafe Testarossa in Syosset is a stellar combination of Italian and New American cuisines. The kitchen’s light veal meatball sliders and veal meatballs with spaghetti are finished with Parmesan cheese, milk-soaked bread, basil, oregano and salt, seared then baked and set in tomato sauce. You’ll want seconds.
Cafe Testarossa, 499 Jericho Tpke., Syosset; 516-364-8877, cafetestarossa.com
Tony Colombos Italian Bistro in Rockville Centre uses a beef-veal-pork mix. Into it go eggs, Parmesan cheese, fresh breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper. They’re browned, baked and bound for the meat-flavored red sauce. Very homey.
Tony Colombos Italian Bistro, 208 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre; 516-678-1996, tonycolombos.com
Salamander’s on Front in Greenport brings you in with its poulet frites, with either dark or white meat, as well as chicken wings with coleslaw and cornbread, in photo. It’s also a contender with four-cheese macaroni and cheese. Reopens for the season in March.
Salamander’s on Front, 38 Front St., Greenport; 631-477-3711, salamandersonfront.com
LL Dent in Carle Place takes you on a regional tour with its Southern fried chicken, as well as Southern fried chicken salad, crisply fried chicken livers, crunchy chicken wings and the satisfaction of fried chicken and waffles.
LL Dent, 221 Old Country Rd., Carle Place; 516-742-0940, lldent.com
The Orient in Bethpage is a Chinese restaurant with very devoted diners. One dish that could make you become a regular is the singular, crunchy fried chicken showered with roasted garlic. You may take an order home, too.
The Orient, 623 Hicksville Rd., Bethpage; 516-822-1010, theorientny.com
Mac & Melts in Garden City is a double threat. It could be one of the macaroni and cheese selections, too. On the grilled cheese side, there’s Wisconsin Cheddar on Pullman bread, in photo; and Awaken Bacon, with Cheddar, bacon, tomato, fried eggs and potato tots on sourdough. That’s only for starters.
Mac & Melts, 684 Stewart Ave., Garden City; 516-246-9610, macnmelts.com
Say Cheese Grilled Cheese Company in Long Beach has the basics but really gets going with “signature melts” such as the All American with sliced tomato, applewood-smoked bacon and American cheese; and The Italian Job with grilled chicken, roasted tomato, mozzarella and pesto.
Say Cheese Grilled Cheese Company, 655 E. Park Ave., Long Beach; 516-442-5807, saycheesegcc.com
AJ’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese Shop in Bay Shore is a specialist with sandwiches on sourdough bread that include pulled pork and melted Cheddar; apple, bacon and Cheddar; and a blend that takes in lobster and crab with Cheddar.
AJ’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese Shop, 182 W. Main St., Bay Shore; 631-647-9292, ajsgrilledcheese.com
Casa Rustica in Smithtown’s repertoire features a three-layer lasagna, in photo, with béchamel sauce, Bolognese meat sauce, fresh ricotta and mozzarella, and a crown of more superior meat sauce.
Casa Rustica, 175 W. Main St., Smithtown; 631-265-9265, casarustica.net
The Trattoria in St. James presents a five-layer lasagna served in a terra-cotta cazuela pot. The ingredients: grated Pecorino Romano cheese, “crumbled” Bolognese sauce with beef and pork, heavy cream, dry red wine, béchamel sauce and grated Fontina, baked, airy, rich, refined.
The Trattoria, 532 North Country Rd., St. James; 631-584-3518, thetrattoriarestaurant.com
Eric’s Italian Bistro in Mineola lists “Grandma’s lasagna” among the dishes in its “classic corner.” And there it belongs, a three-layer number with creamy ricotta impastata, marinara sauce, a beef-veal-pork spin on Bolognese sauce and fresh mozzarella.
Eric’s Italian Bistro, 70 E. Old Country Rd., Mineola; 516-280-5675, ericsbistro.com
Waterzooi in Garden City is a Belgian-themed bistro where you steel yourself for wintry nights with carbonnade a la flamande, a beef stew jump-started with brown ale, caramelized apples and prunes, in photo. A side of fries with mayo: mandatory.
Waterzooi, 850 Franklin Ave., Garden City; 516-877-2177, waterzooi.com
Mirabelle in Stony Brook keeps to its French roots with a cold-weather special of cassoulet, the slowly cooked masterpiece of beans and pork, pork sausage, duck, confit of duck and cannellini. Check ahead. Years ago, Mirabelle also prepared seafood and vegetarian versions.
Mirabelle, 150 Main St. (Three Village Inn), Stony Brook; 631-751-0555, lessings.com
Big Daddy’s in Massapequa has its Mardi Gras countdown nearing liftoff. Go for the house’s rousing gumbo. It changes daily. The andouille sausage, tasso ham and smoked turkey production is comparatively mild. Look for one with smoked pork, too. Laissez les bon temps roulez!
Big Daddy’s, 1-A Park Lane, Massapequa; 516-799-8877, bigdaddysny.com
Red Tiger Dumpling House in Stony Brook brings the flavor of Shanghai to Long Island with crabmeat-and-pork, in photo, and pork-and-grated ginger soup dumplings. Nibble the top, take in the soup, down the dumpling, smile.
Red Tiger Dumpling House, 1320 Stony Brook Rd., Stony Brook; 631-675-6899 , redtigerdumplinghouse.net
Koiso in Carle Place is one of Long Island’s top 10 Japanese restaurants. It enters the competition with its gyoza, seared pork-and-cabbage dumplings that will make you forget every frozen one you’ve tasted.
Koiso, 540 Westbury Ave., Carle Place; 516-333-3434
Yum Yum Dumplings in Centereach directly answers the “what’s in a name?” question. The house’s seafood dumplings are stuffed with shrimp, pork and chives for a light, silken entry.
Yum Yum Dumplings, 2432 Middle Country Rd., Centereach; 631-676-3148, yumyumdumplings.com
The Rolling Spring Roll in Farmingdale and Syosset lures you with pho, the Vietnamese rice noodle soup, here with sliced beef, beef brisket and meatballs, in photo. Also made with chicken or tofu.
The Rolling Spring Roll, 189 Main St., Farmingdale, 516-586-6097; 228 W. Jericho Tpke., Syosset, 516-677-9090, therollingspringroll.com
Rowdy Hall in East Hampton scores with a stirring version of French onion soup. The hybrid bistro-pub’s rendition has soulful broth, sweet onions, a lid of bubbling Gruyère cheese and toasted baguette. Close to a Les Halles reverie.
Rowdy Hall, 10 Main St., East Hampton; 631-324-8555, rowdyhall.com
The Halyard in Greenport earns your company with first-rate seafood, led by a vivid New England-style clam chowder. Not overly creamy, spiked with bacon and warming enough to spur sailing on the Sound, which the restaurant overlooks.
The Halyard, 58775 Rte. 48, Greenport; 631-477-0666, thehalyardgreenport.com
Maple Tree BBQ Smokehouse in Riverhead, in photo, will dizzy you with a smoked pastrami Reuben, a Cubano and chili, even before you get to the pulled pork shoulder, North Carolina pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, pulled chicken and smoked chicken. Eat in, take out, do both.
Maple Tree BBQ Smokehouse, 820 W. Main St., Riverhead; 631-727-2819, mapletreebbq.com
Mara’s Homemade in Syosset is a multiple-category comfort-food landmark. Visit for fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, gumbo, grits and, especially, dry-rubbed Arkansas smoked barbecue. And try chopped brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken.
Mara’s Homemade, 236 W. Jericho Tpke. (Muttontown Plaza), Syosset; 516-682-9200, marashomemade.com
Townline BBQ in Sagaponack is all about baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, beef short ribs, brisket “moist or lean,” pulled pork, chopped brisket, pulled chicken, hush puppies, burgers and hot dogs, and vegetarian chili. Bring a real appetite.
Townline BBQ, 3593 Montauk Hwy., Sagaponack; 631-537-2271, townlinebbq.com
Shrimp and grits
The Bayou in Bellmore, in photo, simmers shrimp, onion, bacon and pepper in pan gravy before they no doubt contentedly meet their destiny over grits. The chili cheese grits and the gumbo continue the full-flavored themes.
The Bayou, 2823 Jerusalem Ave., Bellmore; 516-785-9263, bayou4bigfun.com
Biscuits & Barbeque in Mineola headlines Cajun cooking. And it competes in the macaroni and cheese Olympics as well as in the stew category for gumbo, and for fried chicken and waffles. The Louisiana Gulf shrimp and grits main course pair well with a biscuit. Also, consider cheese grits.
Biscuits & Barbeque, 106 E. Second St., Mineola; 516-493-9797, biscuitsandbarbeque.com
Storyville American Table in Huntington revels with shrimp and grits — shrimp sauteed with bacon, scallions, cream and white wine before landing on sharp Cheddar cheese grits. The Creole and Cajun gumbos are serious and festive bowls.
Storyville American Table, 43 Green St., Huntington; 631-351-3446, storyvilleamericantable.com