date published: February 11, 2008

Best bets for celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Hub
by Josh B. Wardrop

There’s nothing romantic about pressure. and yet that’s what many of us feel when the calendar turns to February—the stores are full of heart-shaped boxes and florists get the idea that $75 is an acceptable amount to charge for a dozen roses. If you’re stuck for ideas on how to treat your special someone to a grand, romantic Valentine’s Day, fear not—we’ve got you covered. Here are a few Panorama suggestions to make Valentine’s Day in Boston a night you’ll both treasure for a long time to come.

Fire and Ice
Ice skating outdoors in New England is more than just a fantasy sketched on a Currier & Ives Christmas card. You and your sweetheart can glide gracefully (or not so gracefully) across the Boston Common Frog Pond (refer to sightseeing listing), the Hub’s version of Rockefeller Center and a popular winter destination for young lovers. Best of all, once you doff those skates and your feet feel like blocks of ice, you’re not far from exactly what you need to thaw them— a blazing fireplace. Hungry i (refer to beacon hill listing)—a converted Beacon Hill brownstone that’s been regarded as one of Boston’s most romantic restaurants for more than 25 years—has three working fireplaces, intimate tables for two and exquisite French cuisine that will satisfy you both.


Animal Lovers ™™
We all know that “the birds and the bees” have a lot to do with what attracts one person to another, but what role do “the birds and the bees” have in the social lives and bees (and mammals, for that matter)?

Franklin Park Zoo (refer to sightseeing listing) offers an illuminating and voyeuristic peek into the private lives of our counterparts in the animal kingdom with What’s Love Got to Do With It?, a lecture by FPZ animal experts on the mating rituals, nesting behaviors and sexual curiosities of animals that takes place February 13 from 5:30–7:15 p.m. at Redline (59 JFK St., Cambridge). Admission is free, but RSVP is required for this 21+ event by calling 617-989-3760.

What’s Cooking, Good Looking?
Going out for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day is always a popular move, but there are those that believe a home-cooked meal is even better—more intimate a setting, for sure, and, of course, there’s the fact that one puts all that time and care into the meal itself. However, we can’t all cook like Julia Child—some of us just cook like, well, a child. That’s where a professional cooking class might come in handy. On February 11, the popular Italian eatery nebo (90 North Washington St.) hosts a special Couples Cooking Class led by restaurateurs the Pallotta sisters, who’ll instruct lovebirds on the secret to making gnocchi with broccoli rabe and tagliatelle with funghi misti ($190 per couple; $100 for individuals—call 617-723-6326 to reserve a spot). Meanwhile on February 23, Chef Arthur Landis opens up the kitchen at McCormick & Schmick’s in Faneuil Hall (refer to faneuil hall restaurant listing) to teach attendees ($48 per person) how to cook a “heart healthy” seafood dinner for two.

Table for Two
Here’s 10 more great bets for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with the one you love.

Dali, 415 Washington St., Somerville, 617- 661-3254. Beautiful décor and delicious Spanish cuisine in an intimate setting.

The Wine Cellar, 30 Massachusetts Ave., 617-236-0080. Fondue for two? What could be finer?

Top of the Hub, Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., 52nd floor, 617-536-1775. The most stunning view of Boston to accompany great New American cuisine.

The Red House, 98 Winthrop St., Cambridge, 617-576-0605. Cozy, semi-private dining rooms with plenty of working fireplaces.

Tapeo, 266 Newbury St., 617-267-4799. Tapas-style dining on ritzy Newbury Street.

L’Espalier, 30 Gloucester St., 617-262-3023. World-class French cuisine in an elegant Back Bay townhouse setting.

Sandrine’s Bistro, 8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, 617-497-5300. Creative Alsatian cuisine with a genuine European vibe.

Mamma Maria, 3 North Square, 617-523-0077 (pictured above). Delicious Italian food removed from the usual hustle and bustle of the North End.

Lala Rokh, 97 Mt. Vernon St., 617-720-5511. Exotic and flavorful Persian cuisine on lovely Beacon Hill.

Icarus, 3 Appleton St., 617-426-1790. Swanky and suave subterranean supper club vibe.

A Kiss is still a Kiss...
...and the timeless love affair between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca is still thrillingly romantic. The Brattle Theatre (refer to film listing) continues an annual Valentine’s Day tradition, screening the legendary film at 5, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. on February 13 & 14 as part of its repertory series of “Great Romances” (which also includes screenings of Amelie and The Science of Sleep on February 12). And after you and your sweetie have watched Ilsa fly away, your trip to Casablanca needn’t end—simply step downstairs to the restaurant of the same name (40 Brattle St., 617-876-0999) where you can enjoy delicious Mediterranean-influenced tapas and entrees, or sip an exotic cocktail like the Sweet Pomegranate Greyhound (Reyka Iceland vodka, pink grapefruit juice and pomegranate molasses) and celebrate your “beautiful friendship.”

Hearts and the Arts
Chances are, you see your significant other as a work of art—priceless, beautiful and unique. So, there are few better ways to spend this most romantic of days than in the presence of some other outstanding works of art. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (refer to museums listing) hosts A Venetian Valentine from 6–8 p.m. on February 14. This special event allows art lovers to stroll the gorgeous, flowering courtyard of the Gardner at night, enjoying live jazz music, poetry readings, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as you take in the Gardner’s treasures during a self-guided tour. Or, if you prefer to enjoy the fine arts with your ears rather than your eyes, the Boston Lyric Opera invites you to join them for Soiree d’amore, a cocktail party for young professionals who love the opera on February 13 from 6–9 p.m. The event, which takes place at a brownstone residence at 211 Commonwealth Ave., is a fundraiser for the Fund for Emerging Artists and offers up delectable hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, with all attendees getting a discount on admission to the BLO’s March 14–25 production, L’elisir d’amore. Call 617-542-4912, ext. 229 for more information.

Just Desserts
Sometimes, when you’re with the one you love, you want to skip dinner and cut right to the chase. Get your mind out of the gutter—we’re talking about dessert. Finale (refer to theatre district restaurant listing) specializes in sinfully rich sweets, and as one would imagine, V-Day is its busiest night. This February 14, executive pastry chef Nicole Coady has whipped up some special menu items, including the Chocolate Infatuation (a plate of chocolate desserts for two including a chocolate meringue cake and a Napoleon layered with tart Morello cherry marmalade and Bavarian crème) as well as other decadent pleasures like chocolate-dipped strawberries, cherry cheesecake and even boxed handmade chocolates to bring to an absent lover.

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