Do you feel it? Love. Do you smell it? Chocolate. Both are in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches. A day filled with love and chocolate should end with romance, and you’re sure to have a romantic, memorable evening at one of these five fabulous restaurants.
Sunset Magazine has called Gabriella Café Santa Cruz’s “most romantic spot.” This cozy restaurant is set up for romance with its intimate dining room, white table cloths and beautiful artwork. The Valentine’s Day menu carries on the theme of romance with delectable treats, including appetizers of oysters or foie gras, salads of arugula and mandarins, beets or crab, house-made pastas, lobster mushroom risotto and filet mignon. For dessert, you’ll decide between chocolate fondant, truffle gelato and other sweets.
Gabriella Café’s prix fixe menu for Valentine’s Day is $75 per person.
How can you go wrong with Chaminade’s gorgeous views of Santa Cruz, day or night, not to mention the resort’s renowned buffet? For Valentine’s Day, Chaminade is pulling out all the stops with a salad bar complete with a variety of cheeses and crackers; a seafood bar including jumbo prawns, smoked salmon, oysters and Dungeness crab legs; a chef blini and caviar station; six entrée choices and desserts of petit four, chocolate mousse tartlet, banana Foster and cherries jubilee. Wines from will be poured, and a live jazz duo will perform from 5:30-9:30 p.m.
The prix fixe menu at Chaminade is $75 per person.
Laili is one of the newer restaurants on the Santa Cruz dining scene serving up flavors from a variety of cultures found along the age-old Silk Road: Mediterranean, Chinese, Afghan and Indian. In the spacious, elegant restaurant, you’ll be able to dine intimately with your honey while enjoying items from Laili’s regular menu, which includes scrumptious naan served with pumpkin or eggplant purees, babghanoush, tabbouleh, or dumplings; chicken with pomegranate sauce; lamb kebabs or braised lamb shanks; and pomegranate eggplant. For dessert, enjoy something out of the ordinary with your choice of cardamom pistachio ice cream, walnut date puff pastry, baklava or rice pudding with blackberries.
Laili’s prices range from $7-$19.
Italians know all about love and the sensual pleasures of food and wine, and Ristorante Avanti’s cozy ambience and fresh, organic Italian cuisine will ensure you and your Valentine have an evening full of romance. The ambience is casual, warm and inviting, and you’ll want to linger over your delicious meal. The restaurant will serve its regular menu for Valentine’s, which includes some real taste treats, such as local sardine crostini, Dungeness crab cakes and polenta torta for appetizers; arugula and beet salad; linguine with chanterelle mushrooms; butternut squash ravioli; and for entrées, grilled chicken with roasted sweet potato, wild steelhead trout and grass-fed lamb chops. For a decadent dessert, try the tiramisu, chocolate pot de crème, ice cream sandwich with house-made vanilla gelato or cheeses from around the world, accompanied with dessert wines or an espresso.
Prices at Ristorante Avanti range from $6-$27.
What’s more romantic than a window table overlooking the Monterey Bay and the lights of the Santa Cruz Wharf? Casablanca is elegance and romance itself with the white interior, straw fan-backed chairs and brass railings, and, of course the California gourmet cuisine. And for Valentine’s Day you’re in for a treat with its prix fixe menu, which includes oysters, assorted sushi, lobster bisque, traditional Caesar salad, filet mignon and crispy seared duck breast. Desserts, which are ordered a la carte and are not included in the prix fixe, include black walnut pie, chocolate mousse pie and crème brulee.
Casablanca’s prix fixe menu ranges from $49-$62 per person.