"Comfort Me with Apples," was the borrowed-from-the-Bible title of a famous book by influential food writer Ruth Reichl (of The New York Times and Gourmet magazine). If fruit's hardly your idea of comfort food, Reichl's title is proof that edible soothing can come in different guises for different people.

"Comfort Me with Apples," was the borrowed-from-the-Bible title of a famous book by influential food writer Ruth Reichl (of The New York Times and Gourmet magazine). If fruit's hardly your idea of comfort food, Reichl's title is proof that edible soothing can come in different guises for different people.

Here's a few less obvious dishes I believe would be universally comforting to all, even if tried by diehard lovers of 'taters and gravy.

Pasta Russo

Gallo's Kitchen, Upper Arlington

For me, nothing is more comforting than the gentle caress of al dente pasta noodles lavishly dressed in a rich and authentic bolognese sauce. Unfortunately, most so-called bologneses have a lot more baloney in them than they do Bologna (the Italian city from whence it originates). That's why I'm magnetically attracted to this Gallo's version ($17).

Correctly orange-tinted and sweetened by cooked-forever carrots, it's lumpy with crowd-pleasing ground meat and brightened by wine plus just the right touch of tomato (i.e. not much!).

Ropa Vieja

Louie's Grill, Hilliard and Upper Arlington

A racy pot roast with a Latin accent, the Ropa Vieja ($14) served at the newish Louie's in Upper Arlington is succulent and zesty. It's a huge, chipotle-saucy beef brisket stew with zingy poblano pepper strips and sweet corn tied together with tomatoes and onion. When eaten with its pacifying sides of perfectly fried mature plantains plus soupy black beans and rice, it's like a mini Caribbean island holiday.

Mofongo de Carne

Famosa, Hilliard

Famosa's incredible Mofongo de Carne ($10) is a giant and addictive chill-killing hill of fried and coarse-chopped, stiff yet giving, savory and starchy plantains. These delicious tiny golden pillows serve as the holiday-stuffing-like base for harmonious flavors like garlic, oregano, tomatoes, onions and peppers. The mouth-massaging plantain mound is enriched and thickened by diced, stewy and homey beef. For contrast, it's sided with a bright and fresh slaw with an olive-oil dressing. Wow!

Beef Noodle Soup

Mi Li Cafe, North Side

Perfumed and lightened by sweetening sprinkles of aromatic five-spice is a deep, dark and rich beef broth practically as thick as gravy. Inside bob plump chunks of unctuous meat - veritable boulders of tender beef with easily trimmable fat - plus earthy yet sweet, stout yet gooey root vegetables. Tangles of noodles (choose your style -I like the long and thin egg variety) enable you to slowly slurp and savor every last wonderful drop and bite of the soup ($8).