Early sunsets and brisk temperatures call for a retreat—and when food is involved, nothing could be more perfect. Some restaurants just know how to couple cuisine with comfort, prompting patrons to abandon hibernation goals and warm up by the fireplace with a hearty meal in reach. As winter sets in, book a table at one of Long Island’s coziest restaurants and pleasantly kiss the notion of chilliness goodbye.
Even in the winter, panoramic water views of the Connetquot River and Great South Bay never lose their charm. The newly revamped riverfront destination was once a part of William K. Vanderbilt’s 900-acre “Idle Hour,” and the original Riverview Restaurant was the Vanderbilt’s old “Tea House” built in 1888. Now known as the Tea Room, the space is filled with three fireplaces and is home to View’s raw sushi bar. The main dining room, which seats up to 165 guests, prepares favorite comfort-food starters like the crispy Thai calamari doused in a sweet chili glaze. Head to the Grill Room for more casual dining for up to 70 guests and a lively bar scene with French doors leading to an outdoor patio. Go.
Mirabelle Tavern, Stony Brook
By nature, Mirabelle Tavern is a warm, folksy place that conjures a New England allure. There are fire-engine red walls furnished with paintings by the late Denise Mara, and modern, dark wood furniture. The focal point of the dining room is the stone fireplace complemented by antique gold-rimmed lantern lighting and a wealth of candles. The menu is just as appealing, offering everything from chateau steak to a very French moules marinière. Go.
Nick & Toni’s, East Hampton
Even in the off-season, every route to Nick & Toni’s is scenic. The East Hampton gem is known for its celebrity clientele and signature mosaic tiled wood-burning oven that dishes out impeccable Italian and Mediterranean fare. Enjoy thin crust pizza, steak and chicken while heating up at an elegant table near the flames. Go.
Rowdy Hall, East Hampton
The gas fireplace in the center of the dining room speaks—or should I say screams—”comfort.” The space also highlights dark wood floors and beams across the ceiling with lantern-style light sconces. Make it extra toasty with a bowl of French onion soup made with a rich meat broth, sweet onions and a crispy baguette with Gruyere cheese. Add an order of the butternut squash lasagna glazed in sundried tomato vinaigrette, which is so savory it soothes the soul. Go.
Unlike its name, Almond isn’t just some plain Jane. The historic space showcases 100-year-old tin ceilings and a hand-carved bar with walls adorned in white subway tile and zebra wallpaper. Bathroom walls are creatively lined with pages of famed cookbook authors such as Craig Claiborne, Gael Greene and Julia Child. The bistro atmosphere wouldn’t be complete without casual wood-topped tables that serve up delicious Berkshire pork chops, Korean-style BBQ short ribs and a mouth-watering ravioli entrée. Go.