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Comfort food on Long Island: Where to get great mac and cheese, fried chicken and more

“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

Skillet Mac N Cheese with corn, jalapeno, bacon
Credit: Daniel Brennan

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;

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,

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,


Spaghetti and all-beef meatballs, served at Emilio's restaurant
Credit: Jeremy Bales

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,

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,

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,

Fried chicken

Salamander's General Store in Greenport is a take-out
Credit: Doug Young

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,

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,

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,

Grilled cheese

The Classic Wisconsin Melt, made with Wisconsin-mild and
Credit: Melissa Mooney

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,

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,

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,


Rich, savory and meaty lasagna Bolognese served at
Credit: Doug Young

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,

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,

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,


Carbonnade a la flamande, a beef stew, at
Credit: Melissa Mooney

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,

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,

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,


Steamed crabmeat and pork soup buns are served
Credit: Heather Walsh

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 ,

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,


A bowl of Pho Bo, beef Pho with
Credit: Daniel Brennan

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,

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,

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,


Smoked brisket and pastrami, paired with "kallerds," mac
Credit: Daniel Brennan

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,

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,

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,

Shrimp and grits

Tupelo honey shrimp and grits is served at
Credit: Jeremy Bales

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,

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,

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,

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