Baked ziti with meat gravy at Parm
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone add a few steps to elevate this Italian-American staple from a humdrum suburban casserole to a restaurant dish well worth its attendant buzz. Their baked ziti—made with a mix of mild mozzarella and aged SarVecchio (a domestic Parmesan cheese)—is seared on the flattop in individual portions so that there is an abundance of crispy edges, then topped with fresh-whipped ricotta and a slow-simmered gravy of veal, pork and beef. 248 Mulberry St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-993-7189, parmnyc.com). $15.—Jay Cheshes
Lasagna al forno at Bar Corvo
A smart chef knows when to embroider a classic and when to leave it alone. Anna Klinger’s take on the ultimate Italian comfort food sticks to the basics—and gets all of them right. Fresh sheets of pasta layered with just enough béchamel, Parmigiano and ragù bolognese are baked fresh to order in personal crocks. The result is rich, gooey and restorative—just as New York’s best lasagna should be. 791 Washington Ave between Lincoln and St. Johns Pls, Crown Heights, Brooklyn (718-230-0940, barcorvo.com). $17.—Jay Cheshes
Cassoulet at Chez Napoléon
This classic French peasant dish is a house specialty at the stalwart Gallic eatery in Midtown West. Chef Marguerite “Grand-Mère” Bruno was born in Brittany, but picked up the preparation of the dish she serves at Chez Napoleon in Paris. She combines a slow-cooked white bean stew with chunks of soft duck confit, thick rounds of pork sausage and morsels of lamb; an infusion of house-made tomato sauce provides a spicy undertow. Poured into a porcelain dish, it’s finished in the oven and served piping hot. 365 W 50th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-265-6980, cheznapoleon.com). $26.—Christopher Ross
Deli Ramen at Dassara
As ramen increasingly becomes a staple of the modern New York diet, Josh Kaplan, Justin DeSpirito and Lana Yang of Carroll Gardens’ Dassara set out to put a uniquely local stamp on the dish, filling the Japanese noodle bowl with elements inspired by a Gotham deli. They begin with chicken broth suffused with a rich chicken tare, then toss in plump matzo balls and ribbons of Montreal-style smoked meat chashu. A few classic elements—poached egg, bamboo—keep it grounded in tradition. 271 Smith St between Degraw and Sackett Sts, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-643-0781, dassara.com). $15.—Christopher Ross
Ribollita at Locanda Vini & Olii
A time-honored Tuscan comfort food, this rustic vegetarian soup combines tender slivers of Tuscan kale, cannellini beans and winter root veggies with hunks of day-old Tuscan bread, baked in-house. The soup sits overnight so that the flavors meld together, and is served the next day (ribollita means “reboiled” in Italian). It’s finished with a glug of extra-virgin olive oil and a whip of fresh black pepper. 129 Gates Ave at Cambridge Pl, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (718- 622-9202, locandavinieolii.com). $8.50.—Jamie Feldmar
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New York is awash with comfort food to warm you up when it’s cold, but these standout examples should be your go-tos. The best dishes in this class include perfectly executed lasagna at Bar Corvo and a hearty French stew at Chez Napoléon, as well as a local twist on ramen at Dassara.
There seems to be a slicery on nearly every street corner in the city, but sometimes, you need a pizza with a bit more finesse. Petaluma has been dishing out Italian-American cuisine for more than 30 years on the Upper East Side. The restaurant’s popularity is thanks in part to its wood-fired thin-crust pizzas with toppings like spinach artichoke ($21) and fried eggplant, ricotta and tomato ($18). The pasta menu offers classics such as orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage ($20), shrimp scampi ($24) and spaghetti carbonara ($22). The carb-conscious might want to skip the heavy stuff and go straight for a protein-centric entree, like the veal marsala ($29) or the pan-seared Atlantic salmon ($28). Select a drink from a long wine list with vintages available both by the glass and the bottle, or order that non-alcoholic Italian classic, San Pellegrino Limonata ($5).
Venue says: “We have opened our large outdoor cafe! Join us on Wine Down Wednesday for half price bottles of wine to sip on outside.”