Dining Out on Valentine’s Day

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Once the relatively quiet month of January passes, we head right back into the feeding frenzy fray with events including Super Bowl (where there is implicit permission to indulge in non-food groups like nachos, wings and pizza), Valentine’s Day, a chocolate lover’s dream, and then Easter and Passover, where sweets reign supreme.

With next weekend, (already!) Valentine’s Day, here are three restaurants with unique and amorous-in-their own-right ambiences.

You can’t get more romantic then the name, incognito bistro, (and yes, they do spell it just like that). I mean the term “incognito” means under the radar, disguised, not being known, secretive. Already, it sets a certain tone. Paolo Montana, chef and owner, shared his favorite V-Day dish with me…

Porcini stuffed Ravioli with a White Truffle Jus

Paolo told me, “When it comes to Valentines dishes I encourage sharing.  Our ravioli, filled with Porcini Mushrooms topped with a white truffle jus, is a treat for the eyes and the taste buds.  It gets the conversation and connection going at first bite.  Rich, decadent, sumptuous, leaving diners satisfied but not stuffed.”

Dining Out on Valentine's Day

The sexy plush reds and clean Northern Italian style lines that adorn Etcetera Etcetera make for a spot-on Valentine’s Day outing. Handsome Daniele Kucera provided some of his erotic dishes (note his descriptions!)

Gnocchi with black truffles, parmigiano and cream – Soft homemade pillows melt in your mouth while the rest of the ingredients tease your taste buds, like a your partner teasing you while cuddling.

Dining Out on Valentine's Day

Fish trio – scallops, snapper and prawns with olive oil, herbs, vegetable julienne and chick pea puree – A medley of soft and crunchy teasing your palate.

Chocolate budino della nonna (my grandmother’s chocolate pudding) – This dessert awakens my memories as a child watching my grandma playing with egg, sugar, cocoa powder and milk while listening to Beethoven. Now, replace my grandma with your partner! What can be more romantic than watching your partner making a delicious dessert.

Ricotta cheesecake – A composition of flavors with fresh ricotta, smartest crust, strawberries and strawberry gelato. Like wearing a sexy outfit.”

 Dining Out on Valentine's Day

Outside the isle of Manhattan, just a ways over the East River on the isle of Staten, in a neighborhood that is growing, you’ll find Enoteca Maria. Casual in nature, but because of the plethora of truly home made foods from all regions of Italy and from around the world,  there is a sexy vibe there nonetheless. It feels like you are eating in someone’s kitchen, and the food, prepared by a “nonna” (Italian for grandmother,) is so good and fresh, it makes everything feel so very alright. The bar is a great place to hang out and try some fabulous wines or grappas, while chatting with the wonderful proprietor Jody (Joe) Scaravella. He is a passionate believer that food unites us all.

Dining Out on Valentine's Day
Each night, a different nonna cooks her specialties, sometimes very unusual, always delicious. It is an incredibly unique experience that would make for a warm and homey Valentine’s day. There are too many dishes to mention, so go to the website to find out more.

Valentine’s Day is a day to honor and celebrate love, friendship and relationships, and I can think of no better way to do that then to enjoy a delicious meal with great wine, with the one or ones you love.


  • Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has joined The Story Plant Entertainment Company and is currently working on a film and Broadway play. Visit her website at www.valeriesmaldone.com

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