Eat This Tonight: A romantic dinner for two 

Make V-day come early this year

click to enlarge The scallops with asparagus risotto is another sexy option at Al di La

Al di La

The scallops with asparagus risotto is another sexy option at Al di La

Get a jump on Valentine's Day and take your sweetie out this weekend before the crush of amateurs (and SEWE attendees) on Thursday. Next weekend will be crazy busy all over downtown, so if you have a favorite romantic spot, we suggest you hit it this weekend and enjoy a leisurely dinner at the most romantic table in the place. Here are some great suggestions for getting your V-day on early.

The folks at Il Cortile del Re are hoping the weather will turn out pleasant so couples can enjoy their lovely courtyard. If the weather doesn't hold up, don't worry you can get intimate with your significant other in the fireplace room. Start off the evening with a glass of bubbly, owner Kim Green's picks are the NV Prosecco, Villa Sandi $10, or NV Ferrari Brut $12. When it comes to entrées there are plenty of sexy items to choose from. Women may enjoy the Ravioli di Mare $21, which is ravioli stuffed with lobster meat and ricotta cheese, with black truffle shavings and white truffle oil served in light and delicate shrimp and crabmeat cream sauce. Or there's the sexy and robust spaghetti alla bolognese ($17), made with slowly simmered pork and beef in a tasty tomato and fresh herb sauce. "The spaghetti alla bolognese is meaty, hardy goodness. It's just that simple," says Green.

Wild Olive Executive Chef Jacques Larson is running a special with fresh local triggerfish throughout the weekend. The triggerfish is pan-seared with fennel, fresh herbs, and red onions, served with a blood orange salad dressed in a housemade black olive vinaigrette ($27). The blood oranges and red onions add a colorful pop to the dish that's perfect for any hot, steamy romance. The Prosecco La Marca, Veneto ($8) is the perfect dry yet semi-sweet bubbly to pair with the triggerfish. For the best seating, request the patio, which provides a secluded dining experience.

At Al di La, grilled prime strip loin, fruit de mari, and roasted whole fish will make your decision pretty tough. The 14-oz. prime loin is grilled and topped with cipollini onions and truffle demi glace, adding a rich, sultry touch to this dish ($28). The Fruitf de mari (fruit of the seas) includes local triggerfish, mussels, scallops, and shrimp sautéed in luscious and rich seafood broth ($23). Finally the whole fish, currently a regional black sea bass, is roasted in sea salt, fennel, lemons, and herbs ($26). When it comes to sparkling wine choose from the Prosecco ($7), Moscato ($7), or if you think you can handle a whole bottle go for the Louis Roederer ($29). As far as seating goes, owner Mark Kohn says, "The front window table away from everyone is the most romantic. It's a perfect place for two because it is quiet and intimate."

Over at Muse, they have a romantic table dubbed the Romeo and Juliet table. Positioned on the private outdoor balcony, cascading with beautiful red vines, the table seats two. Create a surf and turf experience, and order both the whole sea bass ($28) and the rib-eye ($28). The bass is served over stewed tomatoes with olives, fennel, and raisins while the rib-eye is paired with the fingerling potatoes, braised wintergreens, and a garlic pancetta jus. Both are succulent and sexy dishes. The perfect champagne for a romantic evening at Muse is the Delamotte NV ($16/glass, $69/bottle).

Of course we didn't overlook Fulton Five, voted most romantic restaurant by City Paper readers for more than a decade. "For the best seat in the house request table 24, an intimate two top table right by the window, and share the Insalate de Mare," says Chef Josh Cain. This dish is a seafood trio consisting of delicately poached crab, lobster and local shrimp lightly tossed in a roasted tomato and lemon aioli, served atop a bed of crispy arugula and then drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and a port wine reduction $13. It matches perfectly with a glass of Santome Proseco, which is light, slightly sweet, and pleasantly effervescent $9.50.

If it is guaranteed romance you are looking for, these restaurants won't let you down. Just make sure you call ahead for a reservation.

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