Comfort food never fails to put you in a better mood. From rich, indulgent pasta dishes to classic chicken noodle soups with Asian flair, these 20 dishes that are pretty much guaranteed to fill you up and brighten your mood, despite the chilly weather and, most likely, rough, snowy commutes.
Laurence Edelman, Chef and Owner, Left Bank
Dish: Iron Roast Split Chicken with black pepper polenta and cabbage
The defining characteristic of comfort food is that it has to hit one chord on the fret board, hit it solid, and add sustain. Comfort food should be simple and not provocative. It should be obvious and it should be generally unanimous, which is why one of my favorite comfort food dishes is Left Bank’s Iron Roast Split Chicken. The Iron Roast Split Chicken is served with black pepper polenta and cabbage cooked in the drippings. The dish is all held together with a rich chicken jus, the ultimate non-complicated comfort food dish.
Dish: Cacio e Pepe with butter, sharp pecorino cheese and parmesan cheese
The mother of all comfort foods may well be pasta with butter and cheese. We do ours in the classic Italian dress of Cacio e Pepe, or, sheep’s milk cheese and black pepper. Capricci, short little curls of boiled pasta are coated with creamy sweet butter and viscous, sharp pecorino cheese and parmesan cheese. The sustain here is the requisite black pepper, and the floury chew of the pasta soaked in all that goodness. The Cacio e Pepe is made with sheep’s milk cheese, sharp pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese, black pepper using Capricci pasta, nailing the perfect chewy texture and sauce.
Christian Ferrara, General Manager, Serafina Tribeca
Dish: Italian Carbonara with crispy guanciale
Serafina’s carbonara is made by using the freshest ingredients and we follow the original recipe which requires guanciale (pork’s cheek) rather than pancetta. Guanciale has to be crispy, crunchy and it needs to have to have enough fat to be melted with all the other ingredients. We don’t use any butter or cream but only eggs, pecorino Romano (never Parmigiano Reggiano), salt, guanciale and olive oil. In Italy, having Carbonara is a way to sit together, preferably around a huge fireplace, eat together and enjoy the perfection of this flagship Italian dish.
Dish: Italian sandwich with slow-cooked short ribs with D.O.P. Italian Taleggio and homemade apple spread
One of our prized sandwiches is the Italian sandwich. It starts with homemade bread, and is topped with slow cooked short ribs, taleggio DOP fondue cheese, our own apple jam, glazed balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of olive oil. To pair with the flavor, the sandwich is surrounded by dried figs, taleggio DOP slices and apple slices. The flavor combination of the sweet fruits and tangy cheese mixing with the savory short ribs is heavenly.
Marc Vidal, Executive Chef, Boqueria
Dish: Paella Mixta with seafood and meat
This “mixta” style of paella—cooking both meat and seafood into rice—is what most people outside of Spain know and love because it’s delicious, homey, and incredibly satisfying. Boqueria’s Paella Mixta is a winning combination that we created after a trip to our local market. Home cooks can stick to it or swap in similar ingredients; that’s the spirit of mixta.
Chris Stam, Executive Chef at db Bistro Moderne
Dish: Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin is perfect comfort food to eat during the colder winter weather. We take the legs from the birds, and slowly cook them is a savory broth of chicken stock, and red wine. This slow braising process lends to a tender, juicy piece of meat, which has a warming effect when eaten. The broth is then reduced in to a savory jus, which is a little sweet, acidic at the same time. The chicken gets glazed with the jus, and served with small pieces of bacon, mushroom and onion. When served with a lightly buttered egg noodle like the spätzle we use at db bistro, you have a comforting, filling savory dish, the whole family can enjoy. Pair it with a glass of red burgundy from where the dish originated, and you have a truly amazing dinner you won’t forget.
Billy Oliva, Executive Chef, Delmonico’s Restaurant
Dish: Heritage Pig Bolognese with black lentils, crispy leeks, hon shimeji, truffle garnish
Eating makes us warmer. My favorite way to warm up is with bolognese which is why I added the Heritage Pig Bolognese to Delmonico’s menu. For a hearty dish, it’s surprisingly light—it won’t leave you with that overstuffed feeling. Using pork cheeks makes it extra rich and using pork bone broth makes it lighter than a classic bolognese dish—which is made with cream.
Dish: King Crab Mac & Cheese with torchio pasta, Parmesan cream and topped with crucolo cheese
Our King Crab Mac & Cheese flies out the door year round with orders doubling in the fall and winter. It’s comfort food at its best—pasta swimming in cheese!
Eric Sze, Chef and Owner, 886
Dish: Taiwanese Chicken Noodle Soup with angel hair noodle pasta, chicken, shredded tofu, and vegetables topped with goji berries in a rich sesame ginger Sichuan rice wine broth
Ahead of the colder weather and flu season, I wanted to create a dish that paid homage to Chinese herbal medicine yet also reminded me of the classic chicken noodle soup that Americans love. 886’s dish is served in a huge ceramic bowl meant to be shared by 2-3 people.
Angela Garbacz, Owner and Head Pastry Chef, Goldenrod Pastries
Dish: Pumpkin Donuts with Persian-spiced sugar (cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon)
Goldenrod Pastries we use fresh pumpkin, fine rice flour, maple syrup and coconut oil to pull together this amazing donut that is vegan and gluten-free. Then we dip the donuts in this spicy mix of black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and superfine sugar. I always like to mix up a classic when I can
—and I love the classic Middle Eastern spice mix of cardamom and black pepper. In my mind, those are so closely related to cinnamon so it was a natural combination! It’s one of my favorite treats we have all year!
Semir Elkaz, Chef, Epistrophy
Dish: Kabocha Squash Ravioli with kabocha squash and shiitake mushrooms
The marriage between the roasted kabocha squash, sage-infused brown butter, mushrooms, and the ginger glaze garnish make Epistrophy’s ravioli a warm and comforting dish for cooler weather!
Jeremy Salamon, Executive Chef, The Eddy
Dish: Palacsinta Extravaganza Hungarian crepes with a variety of toppings
I associate The Eddy’s palacsinta with family. It never failed to make an appearance at a Sunday night dinner. I have such a fondness for everybody reaching across each other for crepes, fruit and nuts; laughing and smiling. It was always comfort.
Maiko Kyogoku and Emily Yuen, Owner and Executive Chef, Bessou
Dish: Dorade Soy Butter Yaki whole dorade stuffed with soy-braised enoki and field mushrooms and kabocha squash, cooked in tin foil with soy koji butter sauce
The butter mixed in with the soy koji, the firm and pillowy flesh of the dorade and the creamy kabocha and earthy maitake make
Bessou’s Dorade Butter Yaki dish the ultimate fall dish.
Sylvain Aubry, Executive Chef, La Cafette
Dish: Bavette à l’échalote with hanger steak with shallots porto sauce, homemade French fries and seasonal salad
The bavette at La Cafette brings me back to the times I spent looking out the windows of a Parisian bistro watching the rain, while cozied up indoors with some amazing food that made me happy when the days were dull. In Paris, it rains in the winter, so we like to warm up with a decadent dish, like steak and potatoes—this is our version of that and the perfect dish to eat in the winter, to cheer and warm you up.
Andy Jacobi, Co-Founder, Untamed Sandwiches
Dish: The Butt with broccoli rabe, pepper jelly, dijon mustard and sharp cheddar
The Butt as a Plate over cheddar jalapeño grits is the ultimate comfort food. You get so much flavor: the sweetness of the pork and the pepper jelly and the smokiness of the charred broccoli rabe go so well with the creamy, cheesy grits. The Butt is made using Untamed’s signature five-day braising process to create its tender, cider braised pork butt, which is mixed together with broccoli rabe, pepper jelly, dijon mustard and sharp cheddar and plated over homemade cheddar jalapeño grits.
James Kim, Co-owner, Sons of Thunder
Dish: Chili with tomatoes, onions, scallions, and cilantro
Our chili at Sons of Thunder is housemade using only grass-fed beef and three different kinds of whole dried chilies, cooked down to capture a complex and sweet heat that warms you up during the winter. Whether you enjoy alone, over rice or fries, or our BROOKLYN hot dogs, the chili is perfect for cold winter days!
Junghyun Park, Executive Chef, and Partner, Atoboy
Dish: Pumpkin Cheesecake with apples, apple cider caramel, soy sauce pumpkin seeds
This year, we added thinly sliced apples and apple cider caramel. It’s smooth and creamy, and then you get a nice crunch from the soy sauce pumpkin seeds.
Simone Tong, Chef, Little Tong Noodle Shop
Dish: Grandma Chicken Mixian at Little Tong Noodle Shop with a rich chicken broth, tender chicken confit, black sesame garlic oil and a scattering of toppings like pickled daikon and soft boiled tea egg, and house-made condiments
Chicken soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods. This version inspired by a tiny, humble, delicious restaurant in the old town of Lijiang (in China’s Yunnan province). During my travels there, I fell in love with this restaurant, first opened by a great-grandmother now run by her great-granddaughters.
Dish: Stuffed JB Melt Sandwich with two crisp scallion pancakes stuffed with tender, spiced beef shank, griddled Beecher’s cheese curds, homemade spicy mayo and tangy house-marinated cabbage. Exclusively available at Little Tong’s Midtown East location.
You can never go wrong with carbs and cheese.
Maddy Gentile, Leader at maman
Dish: Nutty chocolate chip hot chocolate
The Nutty Chocolate Chip Hot Chocolate at maman, is comforting, cozy, and will have you full of childhood nostalgia on the first sip. It’s a perfect treat to compliment the holiday season and cold winter days. This drink features a blend of Elmhurst’s Milked Oats and Unsweetened Milked Walnuts, making it a deliciously dairy free alternative to traditional hot chocolates. We garnish the drink with Maman’s famous Nutty Chocolate Chip cookie crumbs.