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When it comes to dinner away from home, Atrio Wine Bar at NYC's Conrad gets it

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I've been to hotel restaurants around the world. Some just don't get it. They don't get that people don't want weird and greasy or so dumbed down and plain, they could easily get the fixings for their sandwich at the convenience store. And so, people feel like so many of hotel restaurants are a trap to get out of.

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On the other hand, when a hotel restaurant gets it right, it's brilliant. You want to have a comfortable evening before you retire, with nurturing food that's slow-cooked/home-style, with an elegance to it, not wildly unfamiliar or improbable combinations. That's why I was happy to be hosted to experience Atrio Wine Bar at the Conrad in NYC!

Atrio has the chic, sleek modern lines of the Conrad, but at night, it's lit to be more warm. Dress is dressy casual.

I kinda wanted a cocktail, but it is a wine bar, so going with that flow, I tried the Cinnamon Apple Sangria, which was refreshing and not too sweet. It's elegantly composed of Rémy Martin VSOP, Bordeaux Rouge, Pineapple Cranberry, Washington apple cider, Sprite and cinnamon. I did also get a taste of "The Bear," a smoky, whiskey version of a Manhattan. Hey, when in Rome, right?

Bread service comes wiht an orange/pepper/olive tapenade.

Burrata is a luxurious cheese-making creation -- the next step up from mozzarella -- all creamy and rich. They have an appetizer that incorporates not far away Vermont Maplebrook burrata with local multi award-winning La Quercia artisan prosciutto, arugula and caramelized fresh figs. It hits the craving for creamy, sweet and salty, as well as making you feel good that you "ate a salad".

If you frequent Greek and other Mediterranean restaurants like I do, octopus is not outside your comfort zone. If you've never had it, but you love seafood, give it a try! Their octopus is beautifully grilled. Red pepper couli provides heat and broccolini adds heartiness.

On the road, there's nothing as comforting as pasta with a creamy sauce. Rigatoni Fungi is a vegetarian dish, with wild mushroom ragout, truffle oil and mascarpone. Mascarpone is also often used in creamy desserts. The dish is full of flavor, garnished with minced chives and cracked black pepper.

For some people, there's nothing as comforting as a great pizza! Imagine butcher cured bacon, local ricotta, roasted cipolini (baby) onions, hojimenji mushrooms. That takes the ol' pepperoni and mushroom to a whole new, luxe level.

When in NYC, you might be craving some cheesecake! Theirs is Italian style, made with ricotta, garnished with Meyer lemon curd (a touch sweeter than normal lemons) and blueberry compote. It's a nice coda to a richer dinner.

Or, you might go the other direction . . . to a grown-up s'mores style dessert, fun with a glass of dessert wine: salted peanut gelato, caramelized bananas, marshmallow and Nutella!

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