When I’m out celebrating a romantic occasion, there are certain criteria — besides good food, of course — that I deem essential to a successful evening: An inviting atmosphere. Good wine. Intimate conversation. All necessities in my book.
But that’s just my idea of what makes a great date night. Yours might require a fireplace. Or a whirlwind evening of cocktails and dancing.
Date night is a broad term, after all, and no single restaurant is the right answer for everyone.
If you’ve been married awhile, you want a diversion to help turn the conversation from the mundane (bills, kids) to the interesting (hopes, dreams).And you probably also remember the days when you dreaded a first date — knowing that as you order drinks, there’s a chance you might need to make a clean, fast getaway.
So that’s why this Sunday before Valentine’s Day — arguably the most romantic day of the year — we’re making restaurant recommendations for every date-night occasion imaginable, from restaurants with fireside romance to those with a bustling atmosphere to some with a bit of a diversion, just in case there’s a lull in your evening.
We’ll let you know who should go, what to expect — even where to sit. And for Valentine’s Day, we’ve asked what the specials (or special menus) are. One word of advice: If you want a reservation for the big day, make your decision quickly. Those tables are filling up.
12 Grapes, Peekskill
Who should go? People up for a rocking-good time. 12 Grapes is known for its live music, and there’s a great lineup all weekend: the Rahsaan Langely Project, an R&B group, on Friday; Dutchess Di & the Distractions on Saturday; and the Rhonda Denét Project on Sunday. If you love wine, all the better. You can pick from 12 reds and 12 whites by the glass.
What to expect: “A little bit of SoHo in Peekskill,” says Jeannie Credidio, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Rich Credidio. That means brick walls, wooden floors, French doors looking out onto the street, and a color scheme with natural colors, such as sage green and purple. Don’t miss the steamed clams with chorizo, the mushroom ravioli or the arugula salad with goat cheese, cranberries and hazelnuts. The miso-glazed butterfish is a signature, too.
Most romantic seat: Table 24 — “the cubby,” a booth that’s set back in an alcove with some antique wooden chairs that Credidio thinks may have come from the old Metro-North train station.
On Valentine’s Day: There’s something happening all weekend. On Friday, there’s a special, couples-only three-course buffet dinner, which, for $120, includes champagne cocktails for ladies, entertainment and the meal. Tax and tip are extra. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, there are specials, such as panko-crusted fried oysters, lollipop lamb chops, surf and turf and potato-wrapped sea bass, plus the live bands.
Details: 12 N. Division St., Peekskill. 914-737-6624, 12grapes.com
42, White Plains
Who should go? You may spot a movie star or a Yankees player or two, but lots of regular hip Westchesterites are making their way to 42, too. Indeed it can be a scene here — plenty of stylish couples and small parties making merry with delicious tapas and Portuguese-inspired small plates flying out of Anthony Goncalves’ kitchen. You’ll feel on top of the world up here — surrounded by tall glass windows looking out to Manhattan and the Long Island Sound — but really you’re just on top of the swank 42nd floor of the downtown Ritz-Carlton tower.
What to expect: The décor is modern and clean-lined but warm and comfortable. As far as food, Goncalves is a master of anything pork — try the luscious Iberian ham called pata negra or the wild boar ragout. He’s also great with fare from the sea — sea bass, octopus, anchovies, shrimp and cod. Have fun and be adventurous! The bountiful menu is loaded down with Goncalves’ creative American take on traditional Portuguese and Spanish fare.
Most romantic seat: Frankly, you can’t go wrong in this spectacular space. Ask for anything by the floor-to-ceiling windows that ring the room or try one of the cozy banquettes. The lighting in the whole room couldn’t be any softer or more romantic.
On Valentine’s Day: Goncalves is throwing all of his considerable energy into a special Valentine’s Day weekend menu at 42, with a $45 three-course brunch on Feb. 13 and a three-course dinner, where one of the choices is the tuna and salmon tartare, above (photo by Alan Shapiro), on both Feb. 13 and 14. That includes a bottle of champagne and costs $225 per couple. In November, Goncalves added a swank tapas restaurant, called Bellota at 42, to the mezzanine portion of the big 42 dining room — but sorry, that part of the restaurant will be closed both days.
Details: 1 Renaissance Square, White Plains, 914-761-4242, www.42therestaurant.com
808 Bistro, Scarsdale
What to expect: Chef-owner Salvatore Cucullo changes up his menu — a fusion of Italian with Asian and French influences — several times a month so you’re always getting something new. Right now, popular dishes are poached perch with a saffron-fennel bouillabaisse and smoked salmon pizzette. Selections on the extensive wine list range from a South African merlot-cabernet blend to whites from California and France.
Most romantic seat: Tables 30 and 40, near the front windows. “At night, the way the white lights shine on the trees outside, it’s really sexy,” says Cucullo.
On Valentine’s Day: Holiday specials include a “seafood lovers” crab cake appetizer (served with shrimp and scallops on the side) and a surf-and-turf entrée with a 6-ounce filet mignon and 6-ounce lobster tail. You may also like the Denver Lamb Rib, above (photo by Tania Savayan/TJN). Instead of champagne, Cucullo suggests getting an 808 Spritzer, a blend of Acai vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and prosecco. “It goes over really well,” he says.
Details: 808 Scarsdale Ave., Scarsdale. 914-722-0808, the808bistro.com.
Benjamin Steakhouse, Hartsdale
Who should go? Serious steakhouse aficionados, especially fans of Peter Luger, arguably the best steakhouse in New York City (and state). Two alumni from that Brooklyn emporium of prime aged beef, Benjamin Prelvukaj and chef Arturo McLeod, opened their second Benjamin Steakhouse in October in the former Mighty Joe Young’s space in Hartsdale. The other Benjamin Steakhouse is at 52 E. 41st St. in the Dylan Hotel in Manhattan.
What to expect: Or try the veal chops — or seafood options such as yellowfin tuna, Chilean sea bass or Norwegian salmon. Be sure to check out McLeod’s signature “Creamless Creamed Spinach.” The 200-seat dining room is modern and hip but still cozy and welcoming, with dark wood floors, white tablecloths and generously proportioned chocolate-brown leather chairs. And don’t forget your wallet because you can drop some serious cash here — but your date is totally worth it, right?
Most romantic seat: Get one of the tables right by the fireplace or try to snag one of the two private booths in either corner of the dining room. Or there’s a quiet lounge area next to the bar that looks into the wine room.
On Valentine’s Day: Want to hop the train to Grand Central? The Benjamin Steakhouse in the city is right by the train station and it’s the one with a special Valentine’s Day menu, for $99 per person. Sorry, regular menu in Hartsdale.
Details: 610 W. Hartsdale Ave., Hartsdale, 914-428-6868, www.benjaminsteakhouse.com
Blue, White Plains
Who should go? Sophisticated diners who like a dash of Asian sprinkled across their American bistro fare — edamame dumplings, Thai beef salad and both filet mignon and ahi tuna dressed in wasabi fixings. Not feeling particularly adventurous? You’ll find well-prepared, can’t-miss American favorites like Cobb salad, roasted rack of lamb, grilled pork loin and New York strip steak.
What to expect: This is a lovely room with lots of wood and a stylish Art Deco vibe. The lighting is soft and flattering — always a must for date nights. The well-dressed bar here is also a great spot for a date-night cocktail or two, if you’re short on time.
Most romantic seat: Go for one of the three booths — they’re like mini-couches with side-by-side seating. On slow nights, couples can take over the big round tables in back that normally seat six.
On Valentine’s Day: Four-course meal for $55, excluding tax, tip and drinks.
Details: 99 Church St., White Plains, 914-220-0000, www.bluerestaurantwhiteplains.com/
Bouchon Wine Bar & Café, Pleasantville
Who should go: Wine lovers who need not waste time over a big meal. Bouchon lets you kick back and sample small plates, like the charcuterie platter, left (photo by Matthew Brown/TJN) and a glass of wine,and intriguing international wines from Spain, Portugal, Argentina.
What to expect: Packed with tapas, the menu boasts artisan cheeses, chocolates, green apples and California oranges, and prosciutto and sopressata from Arthur Avenue markets to provide the complete wine-tasting experience. It’s fed to a crowd that ranges from middle-aged couples to a 20-something bunch.
Most romantic seat: Grab the cozy couch in the dimly lit lounge in the back. The copper tones, candles and hanging lanterns complement the brick walls that surround you, putting you both in a sexy state of mind.
On Valentine’s Day: Owner Paul Paljevic is offering complimentary port wine to couples who order dinner and drinks, provided they mention seeing this story in The Journal News. How’s that for an insider tip?
Details: 10 Marble Ave., Pleasantville, 914-769-4040
The Commissary, Tappan
Who should go: “Food-knowledgeable” couples who aren’t shy about asking questions about things like cooking methods, where ingredients come from and fat content. “People are very health-conscious,” says owner-chef Dan Foti, the former owner of The Baker’s Wife bakery. “They love the raw tuna appetizer, a peppercorn and coriander-crusted tuna with buckwheat noodles and seaweed.”
What to expect: Contemporary American cuisine with as many ingredients from local suppliers as possible. A good balance of meat and fish main dishes, with vegetarian pastas. “Our most-popular main course on the current menu is the grilled wild salmon with beet risotto and fresh carrot-juice reduction,” Foti says. The menu changes about every two months, adds the chef.
Most romantic seat: Table 5. In the back, kind of out of the way. “When people want a quiet conversation, they ask for that table.”
On Valentine’s Day: A $40 three-course, prix-fixe menu, with main-course options including salmon, fettuccine with Maine lobster, lamb shank with white beans and gremolata. Among dessert choices will be a Pear Frangiapan tart (with a hazelnut-flavored crust) and lemon cheesecake with strawberry caramel sauce.
Details: 65 Old Tappan Road, Tappan. 845-398-3232. www.commissary65.com
Crabtree’s Kittle House, Chappaqua
Who should go: Classic romantics will love the traditional setting at Crabtree’s Kittle House. The restaurant, right (photo by Joe Larese/TJN) teems with country-sophistication. And after you finish dabbing off all hints of the chocolate souffle you just devoured with the corner of your napkin, there’s no need to hurry home. There are a dozen guest rooms upstairs, so you can turn date night into an overnight.
What to expect: Fancy breeds fancy, so break out your finest attire for white-glove service: Waiters pull out your chair and executive chef Benjamin Lambert prepares exquisite meals. But if you’re looking for a more casual affair, co-owner Glenn Vogt recommends the refuge of the tap room, where copper ceilings and the warmth of the fireplace will more than kindle your mutual interest.
Most romantic seat: “If you’ve got Table 53, in front of the fireplace, on a cold winter night, a beautiful bottle of wine sitting next to you with your date, I think you would have really wonderful experience,” Vogt says.
On Valentine’s Day: Kittle House will be serving a four-course meal, a glass of champagne and a long-stem rose for the ladies for $70 per person. Says Vogt: “We’re kind of hoping the two people will pick two different courses, so they’ll get to see eight different dishes.”
Details: 11 Kittle Road, Chappaqua, 914-666-8044, www.kittlehouse.com
Emma’s Ale House, White Plains
Who should go? You’ll find a 30- and-40-something crowd looking for a restaurant that’s a step up from the Mamaroneck Avenue pubs. Emma’s is also less expensive than most of our other choices here. Yes, it’s great for a casual date night — maybe as a spur-of-the-moment choice on a dreary night in the middle of the week — but Emma’s is also very family-friendly.
What to expect: The vibe is slightly upscale but not at all prim or stuffy. Slide into one of the chairs at the high tables in the bar area, or it’s usually a bit quieter in the dining room next door. The all-American comfort food here is also a step up from normal pub fare — sirloin steak, left, filet mignon sliders, classic French onion soup, crabcakes and lamb burgers with feta on pita bread. If your date is in the mood for something light, try the salad with greens, roasted beets, walnut-crusted goat cheese and apples. You’ll find about 10 beers on tap here, along with more than a dozen wines by the glass.
Most romantic seat: Couples seem to favor the bench in the dining room, along with the four corner tables.
On Valentine’s Day: Look for six to eight specials designed for two people to share.
Details: 68 Gedney Way, White Plains. 914-683-3662. www.emmasalehouse.com
Il Fresco, Orangeburg
Who should go: “This is a special-occasion kind of place for people to celebrate their relationships,” says manager Frank Garritano, whose brother, Andrew, is chef. “But if you come here often enough, you’ll recognize the regulars who are like family to us.” Don’t be surprised if you see guys getting down on a knee. “Two years ago, we had two proposals on Valentine’s Day,” Garritano says.
The wine cellar dining area. (Mark Vergari/TJN)
What to expect: Unapologetically huge portions of classic Italian fare in a restored 1728 farmhouse. “My brother and I make the mistake that we think everyone eats like us,” Garritano says. “We want to make sure you don’t leave hungry.”
Most romantic seat: There are three floors of dining, so take your pick. “I always tell people wherever you sit, you bring your own romance,” Garritano says. “If you come in the right frame of mind, any seat is romantic.” Still, if you need help, ask for a table in the wine cellar downstairs, surrounded by candles with the fireplace aglow. Or Table 76 in a nook upstairs. (There are fireplaces on each floor.)
On Valentine’s Day: Regulars will be happy to learn that the entire extensive menu — and specials — will be available. “We don’t believe in prix-fixe menus,” Garritano says. “We don’t want to have to tell our regular customers they can’t have their favorite meal.” Among Garritano’s favorites: penne Arrabiatta, baked veal chop Sorrentino, chicken Fiorentina, followed by his sister’s freshly made ricotta cheesecake.
Details: 15 Kings Highway, Orangeburg. 845-398-0200. www.il-fresco.com.
Karma Lounge, Ossining
What to expect: Soft lighting, brick walls, a big bar area with tall tables. (You’ll find regular tables in the dining room.) Chef Miguel DeBride is late of Zuppa in Yonkers, so he’s turning out delicious Italian- and American-style dishes: mussels with a tomato-garlic sauce, scallops on polenta with mushrooms, a skirt steak with chickpea fondue.
Most romantic seat: Alison D’Elia, right (photo by Alan Shapiro), who owns the restaurant with Tyrone Taylor, recommends the wrap-around couch in the cozy little nook near the dining room. There are pillows and soft lighting, and it’s right near the speakers, so you can lose yourself in the music.
On Valentine’s Day: A three-course prix fixe dinner for $65 per couple from Feb. 11 through Feb. 14. Appetizer choices include Crostini Ricotta Fresco, a tomato confit jam and ricotta on a toasted crostini, and a Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese. Entrees include pan-seared scallops and wild mushrooms served on herb polenta; mushroom ravioli with a sage brown butter and black truffle sauce or slow oven confit short ribs with herb polenta and root vegetable ragout. Dessert is mascarpone cheesecake or Godiva chocolate ganache cake. The regular menu is available, too.
Details: 175 Main St., Ossining. 914-488-5999, karmaloungeofwestchester.com
Who should go: Japanese food lovers eager to move beyond teriyaki, tempura and spicy tuna rolls. The restaurant, which calls its food neo-Japanese, has dishes like soba noodles with roast duck and toro tartar with jalapeno caviar.
What to expect: Koo, which means sky, has a serene, nature-inspired environment with black stones, birch logs and lots of muted tones. There’s a sleek bar on the main level and dim lights in the seating area up the stairs.
Most romantic seat: Manager Steve Ma says there are a few tables near the window where the atmosphere is quietly elegant and the candlelight sets just the right mood.
On Valentine’s Day: A $55 prix-fixe menu, which includes champagne, starts with soup and an appetizer that’s only available during the Asian New Year: honey beehive crackers topped with salmon roe. There will also be a heart-shaped passion roll (sushi), entrees including Chilean sea bass and a special chicken dish, and tiramisu cake with passion-fruit sorbet. The regular menu will also be available, including this omakase creation, left (photo by Mark Vergari/TJN).
Details: 17 Purdy Ave., Rye. 914-921-9888, www.koorestaurant.com.
Kraft Bistro, Bronxville
What to expect: With a wall of votive candles, red roses everywhere and ruby-colored chairs, the restaurant’s décor is ready-made for Valentine’s Day. Classic movies like “Casablanca” and “Dr. Zhivago” will play on televisions by the bar, adding to that romantic vibe.
Most romantic seat: With only 45 seats, any spot in this eatery feels intimate. But for a bit more seclusion, ask for one of the corner tables.
On Valentine’s Day: The regular menu will be offered, since Wahab has found that customers aren’t wild about a prix fixe option. Start by sharing a small plate like mussels in coconut milk, seasoned with cilantro, curry and lemon grass, and move on to the popular lamb or chicken kabobs or sesame-seed-encrusted tuna with wasabi. You can’t go wrong with the banana brulee, right (photo by Mark Vergari/TJN), or a wild berry Napoleon for dessert.
Details: 104 Kraft Ave., Bronxville. 914-337-4545, www.kraftbistro.com.
Martinis & Chocolates, Eastchester
Who should go: Couples on a first date or seriously dating. This is only owner Rick DiLeo’s second Valentine’s Day since opening in late 2009, so he hasn’t had any marriage proposals … yet.
What to expect: The ambience at this bistro can be described as casual, fun and lively — which might be due in part to its extensive martini menu. The drinks have cheeky names like the Eastchester Kiss and Pineapple Passion: So instead of giving her a box of chocolates, why not order a Death by Chocolate martini? (That’s Godiva chocolate liqueur, Absolut vanilla vodka, crème de cacao and half-and-half.)
Rick DiLeo, owner of Martinis & Chocolates, with the Death by Chocolate Martini. ( Tania Savayan / The Journal News )
Most romantic seat: Table 14, a corner table near the windows and away from the bar.
On Valentine’s Day: A $25, three-course, prix fixe menu offers a choice of appetizer (Martini house salad, ravioli duet or shrimp cocktail) and entrée (chicken duet, sliced steak and fish combo or zuppa di pesce over linguine), along with a dessert special of chocolate-dipped strawberries — plus a complimentary Valentine martini for every lady. Dishes from the regular menu are available, too.
Details: 425 White Plains Road, Eastchester. 914-361-1182, martinisandchocolates.com.
Who should go: Couples who want the experience of an Italian wine bar, or enoteca, without leaving Westchester — and those who’d like to meet co-owner Peter Tessitore, a former detective and the inspiration for the Paul Newman movie “Fort Apache, the Bronx.”
What to expect: An often bustling bar scene, with lots of dark wood and candelight, and elaborate flower arrangements created by Tessitore. The comprehensive wine list is all Italian, and the menu offers everything from panini to grilled octopus. Seating is in the bar area or the main dining room.
Most romantic seat: Marc Tessitore, who owns Nessa with his father, Peter, says the high table in the bar area offers a nice view of the entire restaurant. Also romantic are two plush “sofa chairs” in the back, set up around a cocktail table.
On Valentine’s Day: An $85 (per person) four-course prix-fixe menu, which starts with Prosecco and strawberries and includes a half-carafe of Sicilian red wine. Antipasti on the prix-fixe menu include grilled fig and gorgonzola salad, and truffle-egg-polenta-asparagus toast. Entrees include salmon with canellini beans and escarole, and breadcrumb-seared lobster. Dessert is chocolate mousse pie, garnished with fresh fruit. The regular menu will be available, too.
Details: 325 N. Main St., Port Chester. 914-939-0119, www.nessarestaurant.com.
Peter Pratt’s Inn, Yorktown Heights
Who should go: History buffs who want to dine in a Revolutionary War-era home; fans of chef Nick Di Bona’s local cooking (he even uses honey from the restaurant’s own bees) and couples who think fireplace dining is the epitome of romantic.
What to expect: Downstairs, left (photo by Mark Vergari). you’ll find a dark, candlelight space with low ceilings and a fire. Upstairs, the air is more Colonial, with wooden chairs, candlesticks, mirrors, original wide-planked pine floors and creamy, textured drapery. Ask owner Jonathan Pratt about the corner cabinet — it was hand-carved by Abraham Lincoln’s cousin, James.
Most romantic seat: Upstairs, Pratt recommends any seat along the windows, which look out onto an expansive backyard. Downstairs, he likes the tables in the corner by the fireplace: 24, 31, 34 and 75.
On Valentine’s Day: There’s a special menu — but it’s not prix fixe. Instead, you’ll find luxury ingredients, such as truffles, foie gras, caviar and oysters. “All the love foods,” says Pratt. Plus, each guest gets a free glass of champagne.
Details: 673 Croton Heights Road, Yorktown Heights. 914-962-4090, prattsinn.com
Rangoli, New Rochelle
What to expect: Dim, romantic lighting, with an expansive bar area and cozy lounge. There’s also a large dining room done in warm reds and golds, and plenty of candlelight. The dishes on the menu reflect all the regions of India, says Sean Nagpal, whose family owns the restaurant.
Most romantic seat: Nagpal suggests the two tables next to the window, which offer a quiet intimacy. You feel like nobody else is in the room.
On Valentine’s Day: Expect a $39.95 four-course dinner and a strolling violinist all evening. The prix-fixe menu will include appetizers, vegetable-lentil soup or orange-zest salad, entrees (vegetarian, chicken tikka masala, right (photo by Mark Vergari/TJN), or sea scallops in a coconut-pear sauce) and a choice of four desserts: gulab jamun (pastries soaked in honey and cardamom), Indian rice pudding, sorbets or a cheese plate. The regular menu will also be available.
Details: 615 Main St., New Rochelle. 914-235-1306, www.rangoliindiancuisine.com.
Restaurant X and Bully Boy Bar, Congers
Who should go: Fans of Hudson Valley superchef Peter X. Kelly (Freelance Cafe and Wine Bar, X20, Xaviars) and an old-school core of diners whose history goes back to the Bully Boy Chop House days. General manager Michael Pacella calls it a “nice range of clientele,” with a “lot of Rockland natives.”
The Cowboy Rib Eye steak served with Creamed Spinach, Potato Gratin and Sauce Bernaise at Restaurant X and Bully Boy Bar in Congers. ( Mark Vergari / The Journal News )
What to expect: Contemporary American fare with French and Asian influences. Attentive service, but not in-your-face.
Most romantic seat: Table No. 86, next to the four-sided open fireplace. “One side of the table has a love seat, and parties of two like to sit side by side next to the fireplace,” Pacella says. A good alternative are tables 1 through 8 overlooking the pond.
On Valentine’s Day: $70 per person, prix-fixe menu (excluding tax, gratuity, beverage) will have a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert. Expect entrees such as roast duck, beef Wellington, king salmon, medallions of venison or pan-roasted chicken. “Something for everyone,” Pacella says.
Details: 117 N. Route 303, Congers. 845-268-6555. www.xaviars.com
Rue Des Crepes, Harrison
What to expect: The dining room, designed to look like a Parisian courtyard, has blue walls painted with greenery and murals of French shops. If you’re here for the crepes, you won’t be disappointed: There are 40 wildly inventive entree and dessert varieties. But there are also plenty of soups and salads. And if you feel like pushing date night into early-bird territory, there’s a $17 champagne brunch on weekends that’s served until 4 p.m.
Most romantic seat: Without a doubt, it’s the table under a lamppost. left, imported from Paris, complete with street signage in French, says owner Denise Diaz.
On Valentine’s Day: Rue Des Crepes is celebrating the holiday next Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with a fresh rose for every woman in the dining room. Although there’s no special menu, couples can get romantic over a shared order of frites served in a flower pot, says Diaz, plus a nice bottle of Prosecco and a dessert of Linzer heart cookies.
Details: 261 Halstead Ave., Harrison. 914-315-1631, www.ruedescrepes.com.
Spoon Asian Fusion, Chappaqua
Who should go? Anyone with a worldly palate and impeccable taste. Catering to both gents in T-shirts and ladies in little black dresses, Spoon fuses flavors from China, Japan, India and other Eastern cultures in a sleek, comfortable setting. Contrasting the brightly lit sushi bar is the modern Japanese dining room: think dark wood, leather seats and rectangular light panels reflecting off black walls.
A plate of Yellowfin Sashimi, Tiger Roll, Tuna Sushi and a seaweed salad at Spoon Asian Fusion on King Street in Chappaqua ( Mark Vergari / The Journal News )
What to expect: Versatility. Small plates. Big entrees. And a don’t-miss dessert: ginger crème brûlée, with mango sorbet and crème fraîche.
Most romantic seat: The corner booth on the far corner gives you a good view of your surroundings.
On Valentine’s Day: There is no prix-fixe menu for Valentine’s Day, but you can expect some special items to appear on the menu. At press time, those specials are still being determined, but if the regular menu — which features sea bass, salmon, rib-eye and pork loin— is any indication, you can bet they’ll be good.
Details: 415 King St., Chappaqua, 914-238-1988, www.spoonasianfusion.com
Tap House, Tuckahoe
Who should go: Just about anybody. Young or old, newlywed or longtime married: There’s something for everyone at this neighborhood gastropub. Co-owner Chris O’Brien says that moms and dads take their kids here for burgers to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the entire family, while couples come in later in the evening for more sophisticated fare.
What to expect: Folks who prefer to go casual can get comfortable in the bar area, but for more formal service, walk through the kitchen to the hidden dining room that features a dramatic chandelier and stone fireplace. There’s a slightly fancier upstairs section, too, with white tablecloths and cheery wall sconces.
Most romantic seat: A table next to the stone fireplace.
On Valentine’s Day: The usual salads, sandwiches and dishes like grilled swordfish and pumpkin ravioli will be available, but a few specials are on tap, too. Choices include an appetizer of Nantucket Bay scallops with gnocchi and asparagus in a porcini sauce, as well as entrees of sautéed halibut serv?ed with lobster dumplings and a duck breast stuffed with duck confit, golden beets and truffle risotto.
Details: 16 Depot Square, Tuckahoe. 914-337-6941, thetaphouseny.com.
Tequila Sal y Limon, Piermont
What to expect: Standard Mexican fare (tacos and fajitas) and less-typical seviches, paellas and seafood dishes. Among the most popular, co-owner Stefan Connolly says, is the “spot-on” tuna charra, a blackened tuna steak served with a spicy sauce.
Most romantic seat: Table 23 by the fireplace, left (photo by Russ Voss). Or Table 5 by the window, it’s off the beaten track.
On Valentine’s Day: The regular menu will be available. Connolly suggests a “Godiva chocolate tini, Godiva chocolate vodka mixed with a Hershey’s Kiss.” He also suggests taking in Robert Gordon’s 7:30 p.m. rockabilly show at the Turning Point, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. ($30; www.piermont-ny.com/turning; 845-359-1089). “He’s been playing for years on Valentine’s Day. It’s a wonderful show.”
Details: 468 Piermont Ave., Piermont. 845-680-6740. www.tequilany.com
Who should go: A couple who enjoys simple but sophisticated food — and no fuss. Curious foodies would find it appealing, too. The restaurant just opened this fall, and chef-owner Tom Costello is cooking with some highly praised talent: Neil Ferguson, formerly of Allen & Delancey and SoHo House in Manhattan and Monteverde at Oldstone Manor in Cortlandt, is co-chef.
What to expect: A long banquette against one wall leads all the way to the back wall, near an open kitchen that’s home to a flickering gas oven. Add to that the earth tones, leather and mirrors and you’ve got a city-chic restaurant right here in Yorktown. (About time!) Chefs Costello and Ferguson are turning out steakhouse-style entrees such as a skirt steak with killer fries or a crispy seared snapper with a bright citrus sauce.
Most romantic seat: Table 18 at the end of the banquette in the corner of the restaurant. You can’t see the open kitchen, but you can see the rest of the restaurant. Best part: You feel secluded.
On Valentine’s Day: A $48, three-course, prix-fixe menu with all the restaurant’s greatest hits, from pan-seared scallops and short ribs (photo by Joe Larese/TJN) and a mixed green salad to roast chicken, strip steak and duck. Creme brulee and lava cake are among the choices for dessert.
Details: 3605 Crompond Road, Yorktown Heights. 914-788-8700, www.thymerestaurant.net.
Village Social, Mount Kisco
Who should go? Trendsetters searching for an alternative to a traditional romantic restaurant. Modern love meets modern styling at Village Social. High ceilings, industrial decor and reclaimed farmwood, shuttled in from Vermont, give this restaurant an urban-chic edge. “It has a hip, industrial kind of New York feel, but softened up, with a bit of warmth to it,” says Sean Maloney, Village Social’s general manager.
What to expect: There’s lots to love on the menu, which mixes New American entrees (hanger steak, pork chops), with the occasional Italian favorites (pizzas, pastas). Sink into the sumptuous veal shank (left, photo by Joe Larese/TJN), and cool, original cocktails like the Soul Power (Hendricks gin, St. Germain, simple syrup and Prosecco) and the Night Light (Firefly Sweet Tea vodka, mint and Meyer lemon syrup).
Most romantic seat: Sometimes it’s fun to feel alone in the crowd. Tucked in a nook, Table 5 lets couples settle into a banquette for two and do a little people-watching in relative privacy.
On Valentine’s Day: A three-course, prix fixe meal will be offered for $49 per person prix fixe, plus tax and tip. Special cocktails will also be available to celebrate the day of love.
Details: 251 East Main St., Mount Kisco, 914-241-6260, villagesocialkb.com
Vox, North Salem
Who should go? Francophiles who don’t have the time or money to jump the pond for a romantic rendezvous. At this quaint, countryside French bistro, filled with red leather banquettes, co-owner Jean Le Bris brings the romance of Paris to you.
What to expect: With amply cushioned barstools and circular tables draped in white, Vox looks like Le?Bris is welcoming you to his elegant home. Plus, you’ll love Vox’s movie-inspired interior, complete with decorative theater seats and a bar that often shows romantic movies, including “Notting Hill” or the particularly appropriate “French Kiss.”
Most romantic seat: Table 4, which sits along the wall, offers a view of the entire dining area and bar, making you feel like the world — or at least the restaurant — revolves around you.
On Valentine’s Day: Romance is on the menu for the special day, as are savory oyster dishes and rich chocolate desserts known for their libido-enhancing capabilities. The three-course, prix-fixe menu will be $65 per person, plus tax and tip. Cross your fingers that the honey-glazed quail over frisee salad, right, will be on it.
Details: 721 Titicus Road, North Salem, 914-669-5450, www.voxnorthsalem.com
What to expect: Incredibly fresh sushi. A piece of edible art on every plate. Owner-chef Doug Chi Nguyen takes sushi and sashimi to new heights. If you come for the sushi rolls, you’ll stay for the small-plate wonders and for the fusion entrees: from seafood risotto to ahi tuna steak seared with spicy teriyaki reduction and mashed potatoes.
Most romantic seat: “Sitting in the middle of a full restaurant is romantic,” Nguyen says. “There’s a lot of energy. With all of those people sitting around you, you can sit in the middle and propose to a girl and nobody will know.”
On Valentine’s Day: The regular menu — a favorite is the yellowtail-jalapeno, left, with be supplemented with a $49 prix-fixe offering: a four-course his-and-her tasting menu. “A little filet mignon for him, a little sea bass for her,” he says.
Details: 110 Main St., Nyack. 845-358-7977. www.wasabinyack.com.
Who should go: Farm-to-table foodies looking for contemporary Italian fare.
The bar area of ZaZa (Tania Savayan/TJN)
What to expect: Formerly Rustico, this pizza and pasta spot got a revamp last summer. Now a bit more fun and hip, the interior boasts dark-red walls with exposed stone, and a wood-fired pizza oven that’s shaped like a beehive and covered with mother-of-pearl mosaic tiles. New chef Chris Vacca believes in using seasonal produce and buying from local farmers to create daily specials — though he keeps a few staple items (like Barolo-braised short ribs and potato-crusted salmon) on the menu.
Most romantic seat: Vacca recommends tables 4, 5, 63 and 73, right near the pizza oven. “In the evening, when the lights are dimmed but you have the light from the oven, it’s really warm and cozy,” he says.
On Valentine’s Day: Along with its regular dinner menu, the restaurant will serve specials like tonno crudo (tuna carpaccio with avocado and quick pickled fennel) and scottadito d’agnello (pan-roasted lamb chops, castelvetrano olives and lacinato kale).
Details: 751 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale. 914-472-4005.
Who should go? Longtime fans of chef Victoria Zeph’s global cuisine. She uses culinary techniques from around the world but relies on seasonal ingredients. The restaurant appeals to couples looking for an intimate, quiet evening with no surprises.
What to expect: The building, an old charcoal factory, dates from 1902 (and the kitchen is even older, from 1854), so the dining room is small. But the 11 tables, laid with white cloths, are well-spaced for privacy. Wood floors, mustard-yellow walls and floral drapes are decor highlights.
Most romantic seat: Owner Michael Zeph wouldn’t divulge a table number — “then everybody’s going to call and ask for that!” — but said the corner tables are the most requested.
On Valentine’s Day: The regular menu will be offered, so expect twists on duck, (right, photo by Mark Vergari), lamb, chicken and steak. “Most people really appreciate that,” says Michael. “Most people are really relieved they don’t have to do a prix fixe.” Cross your fingers that the pork osso buco with roasted winter vegetables or the duck confit are on the menu; they’re big favorites.
Details: 638 Central Ave., Peekskill. 914-736-2159, zephsrestaurant.com
What to expect: Lots of colorful tile, intimate lighting, bright tapestries and decorative crafts brought over from Morocco. (Photo by Mark Vergari/TJN) The restaurant, which bills itself as nouveau Moroccan, offers a modern spin on traditional dishes, created by chef-owner Alain Bennouna.
Most romantic seat: Bennouna likes to say the whole restaurant is romantic — and really, it is. But the lounge area near the front, with its pillows and dim lighting, makes for a cozy place to have cocktails and appetizers, or your entire meal.
On Valentine’s Day: It’s traditionally one of the busiest nights at Zitoune, says Bennouna, who’s offering a $48 prix-fixe dinner that includes a glass of champagne. Appetizers include goat-cheese drops (fried goat cheese bathed in spiced honey) and stuffed calamari. Entrees include chicken and rack of lamb tagine, and grilled codfish. And for dessert, it’s chocolate mousse prepared with whiskey and Ras el hanout, a Morrocan spice blend. The regular menu will also be available.
Details: 1127 W. Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck. 914-835-8350, www.zitounerestaurant.com.
Staff writers Bill Cary, Peter D. Kramer, Linda Lombroso, Heather Salerno and Chris Serico contributed to this report.