Mac-and-cheese, chicken soup and more: What Long Island is craving right now
People who take pleasure in food eventually figure out that what they are looking for is the ultimate indulgence, something that they would walk over hot coals for. This longing is intensified during the cold months: The days are short, the wind is sharp and all of us deserve to be coddled the littlest bit, to be fed something comforting and delicious. We got the word out on Reddit and Facebook, asking Long Islanders what dishes they crave right now, and they responded with alacrity. We proceeded to find a great example of each.
Requested by: James Kalodimos of East Islip via Facebook and Philip King of Northport via Reddit
GET IT AT: Finley's; 43 Green St., Huntington; 631-351-3440, finleyshuntington.com
Howard Fay is devoted to stew, and the veteran Long Island chef has made it a showpiece on his menu at Huntington’s venerable tavern, Finley’s. There’s always a “stew of the week” on offer—you might encounter such European interlopers such as beef Stroganoff or boeuf Bourguignon (magnifique!)—but nothing is better than Fay’s straight-up American-style beef stew, made with toothsome chunks of short rib supported in part by carrots, onions and a couple of bottles of good red wine. It comes heaped on a bed of mashed potatoes or egg noodles and is guaranteed to revive anyone who is winter-weary.
GUYANESE PEPPER POT
Requested by: Liz Barcia Savastano of Glen Head via Facebook
GET IT AT: Pepper Pot; 760 Elmont Rd., Elmont; 516-344-5272
Is pepper pot the greatest cold-weather dish you’ve never tried? If so, head to a new Elmont place that specializes in it—the name is Pepper Pot, after all—for a Guyanese take on the popular West Indian staple in which meat (lamb, in this case) is marinated and cooked to perfection in cassareep. Not familiar? Cassareep is a terrific sauce base composed of cassava root juice, which, while poisonous in its natural state, is boiled into glorious submission along with cloves, cinnamon and brown sugar until the mixture is as thick as molasses and even darker. No matter how you enjoy it—on top of rice, peas and rice, roti or dhal puri—you’ll enjoy a dish that’s equal parts sweet, bitter and spicy. It’s heavenly.
ICE CREAM SUNDAE
GET IT AT: Old Fashioned Ice Cream; 1025 Straight Path, West Babylon; 631-669-3020
Sure, we could besiege you with cold-weather suggestions, but the global warming gods being what they are, who knows if it won’t be 50 degrees by the time you’re reading this? And, come to think of it, who cares? Seriously, when was it ever a bad time to have an extravagant ice cream sundae? Never, that’s when, a fact well known to the folks at West Babylon’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream shop, where they’ve been short-selling winter for years. The payoff? The cake sundaes, which come complete with two scoops of your choice of housemade ice cream and two toppings served over generous cubes of yellow cake. Is the whole thing over-the-top? Of course. But does the fact that you’re surviving another winter mean you’ve earned it? Yep, that too.
CHICKEN POT PIE
Requested by: Bari Pacht Siegel of Port Washington via Facebook and Vanessa Gordon of East Hampton via Facebook
GET IT AT: Rexer Family Farm; 1028 Park Ave., Huntington; 631-427-3276, rexerfamilyfarm.com
If you feel as though it would be easier to find the Holy Grail than a delicious chicken pot pie, look no further than Rexer Family Farm in Huntington. Rexer’s delivers a pie with tender, buttery top and bottom crusts encasing a filling that barely runs, so chock-a-block is it with irregular pieces of freshly roasted chicken—light and dark meat—along with peas, carrots and potatoes. The six-inch pies, sold fresh (to reheat), are custom-made at Bayville Meat Center and are also available there fresh and frozen.
GET IT AT: H Mart; 336 N. Broadway, Jericho; 516-513-5060, hmart.com
On a list of the world’s most comforting, satisfyingly rib-sticking dishes, Korean dolsot bibimbap makes the Top 10. “Bibimbap” refers to a bowl of rice that is liberally festooned with strips of grilled beef and piles of vegetables that are raw (carrots, sprouts), cooked (mushrooms, fernbrake, zucchini) and pickled (radish, kimchi). “Dolsot” bibimbap is served in a stone bowl so sizzling-hot that the rice on the bottom becomes wonderfully crusty. The whole thing is crowned with a fried egg, for richness and a burst of color. As for how to eat this creation, break the egg, mix everything together and add gochugang, the renowned Korean red chili paste, as desired. Enjoy this in the food court of H Mart before or after exploring this branch of the largest Asian grocery store in the United States.
GET IT AT: Beenz Indian Grill & Bar; 658 Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge; 631-813-1414, beenzli.com
When it comes to India’s great chicken dishes, tikka masala (actually, an Anglo-Indian preparation) gets all the love, but when you’re in the mood for something rich, creamy and soul-satisfying, korma, a Mughlai preparation, is like nothing else on the planet. And braising the meat in yogurt and other fats (“korma” comes from the Urdu word for “braise”) is only the start of the fun at Beenz Indian Grill & Bar, with a version loaded with spices and customized to any heat level desired. The Hauppauge spot had the misfortune to open just before the pandemic and, as such, is still flying under the radar for some, but the restaurant has survived on the quality of its overall menu—remember to order some garlic naan to sop up whatever’s left of the korma gravy—and, of course, the persistence of the Suffolk team behind it. Who says you can only get great Indian in Nassau? Not us.
GET IT AT: Mitchel Field Deli; 621 Chestnut St., Garden City; 516-228-6688, mitchelfielddeli.com
Remember when a sandwich bought for under $15 lasted all week? Return to those days of yore by paying a visit to the newly revamped Mitchel Field Deli in Garden City. Doug Gerber, who originally owned the place and lots of other delis, sold it, retired and then repurchased the shop last September after deciding he missed “the madness.” Gerber swears the deli is just a hobby now, so if you’ve been longing for the size and value of sandwiches like this—a full half-pound of shaved meat smothered in cheese—or the deli’s housemade soups and snacks, beat a path to Gerber’s Garden City door before he reconsiders again, moves South and takes up golf, his original plan.
Requested by: Nancy Twardowski-Vallarella of Smithtown via Facebook
GET IT AT: Polls El Paisa; 989 Old Country Rd., Westbury; 516-338-5858
Rotisserie chicken is the main event at Pollos El Paisa, named for the mountainous Paisa region of northwestern Colombia. But, on a cold, wet day when even wielding a fork and knife seems like an effort, you can get a high-test injection of chickeny goodness by ordering the restorative chicken soup. This golden bowl is long on giblets, big pieces of shredded bird and hunks of creamy yellow potatoes. It will cure what ails you.
Requested by: Karen Leibowitz of Stony Brook via Facebook
GET IT AT: Ruth's Chris Steak House; Locations in Melville, Garden City and Lake Grove; ruthschris.com
Turns out there’s a good reason for vegetarians to visit Ruth’s Chris Steak House: a killer mac-and-cheese. Righteously al dente cavatappi are veiled—not drowned—in a creamy, sharp white Cheddar sauce with a hint of char bestowed by a stint under the broiler. (That gratin dish is too hot to handle.) Although the mac-and-cheese is listed as a side dish on the menu, the portion is more than enough to serve as a main. And if you absolutely must gild the lily, ask for it topped with lobster.