Cold-weather comfort foods
If there were dog days of wintertime, it would be now: The novelty of bundling up, drinking hot yummy drinks – even hibernating – is long gone, but until spring rolls around, we’ll need a little sustenance to keep us going. And what’s better than winter’s most comforting foods — stews, soups, dumplings, pies and the like — to fuel us?
A mainstay on the menu, April Bloomfield’s sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi ($16) is topped with brown butter and crispy sage — at once light, fluffy, creamy and rich.
At Astoria’s Vesta, a Sunday dinner favorite is served nightly: lasagna with 6-hour meat ragu ($15). Says Chef Michelle Vido, “This lasagna is something I am really passionate about; it’s my Grandma Rose’s recipe. I spent a few weeks working with my cousin and practicing the recipe with her until I transferred it to the kitchen at Vesta. I wanted it to be as close to perfection as possible.” Vesta Trattoria and Wine Bar, 21-02 30th Ave., Queens, 718-545-5550
Warm up in the West Village with Chef Thibault Delepinay’s Duck & Foie Gras Shepherd’s Pie, his interpretation of a “peasant” food turned decadent. Duck confit and foie gras are topped with homemade mashed potatoes, served hot from the oven in a cast-iron skillet ($15). L’Amant, 235 W. 12th St., 646-476-8731
Not unlike the aforementioned gnudi, Michael Psilakis’ sheep’s milk dumplings are little pillows of ricotta cheese, similar in texture to the Italian version, but his interpretation is decidedly Greek. Topped with a sauce of spicy Greek Loukanika sausage, tomato and pine nuts, the dumplings are topped with crumbled feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of pine nuts ($13.50).
Kefi, 505 Columbus Ave., 212-873-0200
Missing your Bubbe? Look no further than Kutsher’s for Mrs. K’s Matzo Ball Soup. Available year-round, it’s a chicken soup with a little schmaltz, spaetzle noodles, carrots, celery and dill, and airy yet dense matzo balls. ($12 at lunch, $14 at dinner, and $16 for a to-go quart). Kutsher’s Tribeca, 186 Franklin St., 212-431-0606
A little sweet and a little savory too, Little Muenster’s Apple Pie Grilled Cheese ($8) is made with salted apples, brown butter, cinnamon, sugar and 1841 Havarti from Calkins Creamery in Pennsylvania.
Little Muenster, Multiple locations, www.littlemuenster.com
Nearby at Tribeca’s The Harrison, Jimmy Bradley offers a Merguez and Tripe Stew, served with a baked egg, warm and crusty grilled bread and topped with a healthy sprinkle of Parmesan ($13).
The Harrison, 355 Greenwich St., 212-274-9310
Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s take on macaroni and cheese involves three cheeses — Gruyere, Parmesan and Cheddar — combined with elbow macaroni, dijon mustard, and topped off with breadcrumbs ($12).
The Darby, 244 W. 14th St., 212-242-4411
3 new takes on fries
Almond serves their cheese fries three ways: the “Americaine” frites are topped with New York state farmhouse cheddar, the “Italienne” come with fontina, fonduta and chives, and the “Quebecoise” is loaded with melted cheese curds, truffle oil, house-cured bacon lardons and scallions. ($7-$8). Available at dinner only.
Sotto 13’s fries come in chickpea form, made from toasted garbanzo beans, shaped into french fry fritters, fried up and served with homemade sun-dried tomato pesto ($6).
Trust David Burke to take French fries to a whole new level. On the menu: smoked beef fat and jalapeno fries ($6).
As for dessert
Known to comfort people all year round, Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding is a sweet, traditional favorite, made with layers of vanilla wafers, fresh bananas and creamy vanilla pudding. 12 oz. ($5), 16 oz. ($6.50), single bowl ($35) or double bowl ($60). Multiple locations, www.magnoliabakery.com
Combining the best of breakfast and dessert, the French Toast Bread Pudding at Abe & Arthurs ($12) is made with brioche bread, caramelized pecans, custard, bourbon-maple syrup and topped off with butter pecan ice cream. 409 W. 14th St., 646-289-3930.