Cover Story

Comfort Food in the East Bay

12 restaurants where you can warm up from the inside out this winter with pizza, burgers and pasta


January is all about balance: clearing your head from the end-of-year rush, and resolving to establish new, healthy habits for the new one ahead. It’s also the time when we most crave warm, filling foods that take the edge off of winter in New England. In honor of sweater season, treating yourself and the eternal search for the most delicious carbs, here are 12 places with comfort food for days. What was that we said about balance? One hand for pizza, one for a burger...

At Mangia Pizza in Barrington, you can customize everything from the sauce – smooth or rustic – to your choice of six cheeses, 17 vegetables and 11 kinds of meat and seafood. But if you’d rather leave it to them, choose a gourmet option like The Tuscany, a sauceless pie with shredded mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto, fresh basil, walnuts, asiago and gorgonzola cheeses, or the White Clam with chopped clams, garlic, olive oil and fresh oregano, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. For ultimate comfort, the Amazing Mac & Cheese Pizza has an alfredo base, mozzarella, bacon and fresh penne, topped with toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan. 296 County Road, Barrington.

There’s a reason Bristol House of Pizza has been an institution for 40 years. The restaurant serves grinders, pastas, full dinners and, of course, pizza. Really good pizza. House specialties include the Ranchero, with grilled chicken, bacon, onion and Ranch; Chicken Alfredo with grilled chicken, bacon, broccoli, alfredo sauce and cheese; and the mother of all House Specials, which has hamburger, mushroom, olives, sausage, pepperoni, chorizo, salami, onions, peppers and cheese. 55 State Street, Bristol.

When the appetizer choices include Chicken Parm Meatballs and Lobster Mac and Cheese, you know you’re in for a treat. Chardonnay’s in Seekonk is known for its seafood, but also for grilled pizzas. The seven on the menu range from Fig Jam and Arugula Pizza (with goat cheese, onion and marinated oven-dried tomatoes) to New York System Pizza, inspired by the famous weiners, with meat sauce, mustard, onion and celery salt. Eat them there or take home prepared Take and Bake Pizzas, so you can put on your sweatpants before eating instead of after. On Wine Enthusiast Sunday, purchasing two entrees gets you a free bottle of house wine, or any other bottle for $10. 393 Taunton Avenue, Seekonk.

Federal Hill Pizza in Warren serves rustic Italian fare, like Deep Fried Sicilian Meatballs with pink sauce and Sicilian Rice Balls stuffed with pancetta and mozzarella, but the real star is their pizza. Build your own with toppings like prosciutto, garlic cream sauce or truffle oil, or go for one of the specialties of the house. Zorba the Greek has fresh mozzarella, garlic-infused olive oil, kalamata olives, hamburger, feta cheese and red onion, with tzatziki sauce and basil; FHP Meat Pizza comes with fresh mozzarella, red sauce, Portuguese sausage, Italian sausage, meatballs and pepperoni. 495 Main Street, Warren.


Warren’s Square Peg is a gastropub where comfort food is the order of the day every day. The restaurant serves an extensive selection of tacos and burgers, along with “should we? Of course we should” apps like Fried Pickles and Bang Bang Shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce. In January, the order of the day should be their Mac N Cheese in a creamy white cheese sauce, with the option of bacon… though if we’re being honest, is adding it even a question? 51 Miller Street, Warren.

The Aviary in Swansea is a unique destination: the property is also home to Tickle’s, a huge everything-you-never-knew-you-needed shop that also includes a tearoom. Under a ceiling hung with decorative birdcages and near one of their cozy fireplaces, dig into grilled pizzas, steaks and pasta. A standout selection: the Crab & Shrimp Penne Pasta Bake with white wine cream, an Old Bay crumb crust and roasted red peppers. 2229 G.A.R. Highway (Rt. 6), Swansea.

The Old Grist Mill in Seekonk has a long history, dating back to 1745. In the dining room, things get fancy with their selection of steak and seafood pairings – don’t sleep on the Filet with Lobster or the Prime Rib with Baked Stuffed Shrimp. In the pub, though, it’s pure comfort food: their Mac N’ Cheese Burger is topped with cheesy pasta and applewood-smoked bacon. 390 Fall River Ave, Seekonk.

East Bay Oyster Bar in Barrington does a lot of things well: there’s an Italian influence in everything at the not-just-seafood restaurant from the Eggplant Tower appetizer, where fried eggplant is served with goat cheese and balsamic essence, to the side of Asiago Risotto you can add to any dinner – because really, who can make it through dinner without carbs and cheese. Their pasta entrees are made with fresh pasta. Go all in on Penne Alla Vodka, with house sauce, cream and gorgonzola, by adding grilled shrimp or chicken. On Ladies Night Wednesdays, women get 25% off their entrees. 308 County Road, Barrington.

Eli’s Kitchen in Warren is a bit of a culinary unicorn: some of the area’s best doughnuts in the morning and a far-ranging menu of comfort food with influences from all over the world. But somehow everything works together. The meatless Chana Dal Burger is an Indian-spiced chickpea patty with house mango chutney, cheddar and pickled red onion. The decidedly not meat-free Eli’s Burger is grass-fed beef, smoked bacon, cheddar, tomato, red onion, house sauce and sweet pickle relish on an everything bun. 40 Market Street, Warren.

Metacom Kitchen in Warren is known for simple foods prepared in inventive ways, like their Coriander & Sea Salt Chicken Wings and Braised Short Rib appetizer with fried béarnaise and poached egg. The Metacom Avenue restaurant’s MK Burger comes with A1 aioli, aged cheddar and a side of their unmissable chickpea fries. 322 Metacom Avenue, Warren.

With menu options like Lobster Mac and Cheese, four flavors of wings and Eggplant, Chicken and Veal Parm, Billy’s in Barrington gets comfort food. Their burgers steal the show, though, with variations like The Original Marsala Burger, which has sautéed mushrooms with Marsala wine, bacon and provolone on a sweet Portuguese muffin. Their Cowboy Burger has hand-breaded onion rings, pepper jack cheese, bacon and chipotle BBQ sauce, and the Goat Cheese Burger is topped with roasted red pepper aioli and red onion jam. Add mushrooms, onions, avocado or bacon to any of them – because it’s just that kind of month. 286 Maple Avenue, Barrington.

Comfort food is the name of the game at Chomp Kitchen and Drinks in Warren. The “Bristol County Burger Authority” section of the menu has burgers you’ve never thought could be real: Return of the Bandit is a smoky beef and pork burger with pepper jack cheese, house barbecue sauce, fried jalapeño chips and smoky aioli. The Shumai Burger: a pork dumpling burger with house kimchi, chili lime aioli and crispy wontons. Their new Steakhouse Burger goes even more gourmet, with a mirepoix and brisket burger topped with mushroom gravy, English pea-whipped Boursin cheese, shaved fried potatoes and spinach. 440 Child St, Warren.