By Meryl Pearlstein
Pampano: Make your evening sizzle at Placido Domingo’s midtown modern Mexican restaurant with a six-course tasting menu for $70 featuring signature ceviches, tempura shrimp with Hawaiian papaya and mango, lobster tacos, seared scallops with flan, seared striped bass, grilled duck breast, and caramelized banana empanadas.
Gus & Gabriel: Chef Michael Psilakis’s G&G lets couples try the best of his Upper West Side gastropub menu with a Lonely Hearts Pub Valentine’s tasting for $34.95. This menu has all of my favorites, from the bone marrow and riblet starters to hearty pork shank or steak frites, and chocolate cake. For an additional $14.95, you can add beer pairings to stoke the Valentine’s warmth.
Benoit: Nicely positioned to complement a culture-filled evening at Carnegie Hall or City Center, Alain Ducasse’s French brasserie will make you feel like you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day in Paris. Chef Pierre Schaedelin’s three-course meal features seafood vol au vent and the restaurant’s signature profiteroles for $55. Make sure to have one of the pastry chef’s red candy apples.
Geisha: After you’ve finished buying gifts at Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s or Bergdorf’s, indulge at the Franco-Japanese Geisha for a four-course lovers’ meal with wine pairing for $59. The special menu includes a black truffle tuna sandwich and mackerel tartare, miso-marinated Atlantic salmon with shitake mushrooms, miso-glazed or Korean barbeque organic chicken with Thai basil fried rice, and mochi ice cream.
Puttanesca: Show your amore and bring your date to midtown West’s Puttanesca for its three-course dinner at $39.95. Start with octopus carpaccio or sea scallops as your first course; then enjoy a grilled pork chop, heart-shaped ravioli, or filet of red snapper for your main. End on a sweet note with the mixed berry tart (with lemon sorbet) or the strawberry panna cotta. Ladies get a complimentary glass of Prosecco.
Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse: Are you going to the afternoon Ranger’s game? Have an early dinner at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse. Chef Stephen Rosenbluth’s $59 three-course special includes chilled Beau Soleil oysters or wild mushroom risotto, followed by a 42-ounce Porterhouse for two or a two-pound lobster, and a Valrhona molten chocolate cake or a dessert tasting for two.
Mercadito: Mercadito will fire up the night with its spicy Mexican cuisine in the East Village. Until 10pm, you can enjoy a five-course menu for $45 with a guacamole tasting, two botanos or ceviches, four tacos, two side dishes, and dessert. Spice up your meal with either the Poción #9 cocktail Shot de la Passión.
Bondi Road: It may be snowing outside, but inside this Aussie-style Lower East Sider, you’ll feel like you’re sitting on Bondi Beach in Australia. Between 11am and 5pm you can chow down at Cupid’s Brunch while enjoying their $20 all-you-can-drink happy hour special for two hours.
Bao Noodles: Celebrate Chinese New Year AND Valentine’s Day, Vietnamese style! Start the day with a Chinese New Year brunch from 12 noon-4pm with an authentic Southeast Asian-inspired special for only $9.99. Return for your Valentine’s Day dinner and enjoy a five-course tasting menu paired with Prosecco, sake, and a cocktail for $40.
Mari Vanna: For the perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail, take your sweetheart to this Russian Flatiron District gem for a chocolate-covered strawberry-infused vodka. Really treat her like a tsarina with a caviar presentation set in a Russian nesting doll.