date published: February 9, 2009

Our guide to feeling the love in Boston
by Josh B. Wardrop

Let’s face it—February is the shortest, coldest month of the year, known in most corners for hosting the Super Bowl and for panicky rodents telling us we’ve got six more weeks of winter to endure. But if nothing else, the second month on the calendar has got one thing going for it: thanks to the greeting card industry’s red-letter day, February has become synonymous with that four letter word— L-O-V-E. Here are Panorama’s suggestions for showing your special someone a romantic time—on Valentine’s Day and all month long—here in Boston.

Hearts and the Arts You no doubt see your significant other as a work of art—priceless, beautiful and unique. So why not spend this Valentine’s Day in the presence of some other outstanding works of art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as it hosts A Venetian Valentine from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on February 14. The special event allows art lovers to gaze upon the gorgeous, flowering courtyard of the Gardner at night while enjoying live jazz music, poetry readings and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as you take in the Gardner’s lovely masterpieces during a self-guided tour. Refer to museum listing.

Two Kinds of Dirty Dancing There’s nothing more seductive than watching two people who really know how to dance swaying seductively to a sultry rhythm. This month, lovers (or just dance lovers) can feel the heat of one of the world’s most erotic dances at the 2009 Flamenco Festival (February 13–15 at Cutler Majestic Theatre), which unites some of the world’s most accomplished dancers and musicians to present the passionate Spanish sights and sounds of flamenco. Or, head to the Opera House all this month to thrill to the stage adaptation of everyone’s favorite tale of dance and romance in the Catskills, Dirty Dancing, featuring a stage full of gifted dancers bringing the soul/R&B classics of the early 1960s to sexy and steamy life. Refer to dance and theater listings.

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 (One Columbus Ave., 617-423-3184; 30 Dunster Square, Cambridge, 617-441-9797; 1306 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-232-3233) specializes in sinfully rich sweets, and as one would imagine, V-Day is their busiest night. This February 13–15, Executive Pastry Chef Nicole Coady has whipped up some special menu items, including the Chocolate Plate for Two, a decadent collection of treats including peanut butter and jelly truffles, a milk chocolate mousse pyramid with a banana center and Finale’s signature Molten Chocolate Cake.

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 restaurant 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.

A Girl’s Best Friend The giving of tokens of one’s esteem is a custom that dates back to mankind’s earliest days. While many of those tokens have changed with the times, one thing that hasn’t changed is the primal human admiration for things that sparkle and shine, which is why you can’t go wrong with giving beautiful jewelry to the one who makes your heart sing. Discerning jewelry lovers can find special high-end, hand-crafted treasures at John Lewis, Inc. and Shreve, Crump & Low, both in the Back Bay; lovely, yet casual and wallet-friendly pieces at High Gear Jewelry in the North End; and unique items crafted by international artisans at TistiK in Harvard Square. Refer to shopping listings.

A Kiss is Just a Kiss... but the timeless romance between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca is forever. The Brattle Theatre continues an annual Valentine’s Day tradition with its repertory series of “Great Romances” from February 6–14, which includes screenings of Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Pillow Talk (starring Doris Day), Bound (definitely not starring Doris Day) and culminating, of course, with the legendary Casbalanca on February 14 & 15. Refer to film listing.

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Alone? Disenchanted with romance? Been burned too many times? Here’s a few choice ways to flip Cupid the bird if you’re just not feeling the love this February.

Don’t Be My Valentine: Local theatre company Whistler in the Dark presents a collection of three short plays exploring love and anti-love on February 15 from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at Boston Tennis and Racquet Club. Visit for more information.

Friday the 13th/My Bloody Valentine at the Brattle Theatre: If you’ve ever been stabbed in the heart by a deceitful lover, you’ll have something in common with the unfortunate teen characters in this double feature of ’80s slasher classics screening, appropriately enough, on February (Friday the) 13th. Refer to film listing.

Thorns at ImprovBoston: Comedians Deana Tolliver and T.C. Cheever coax smiles from the lovelorn with monologues and songs about love gone bad February 11, 14, 18 & 25 at 8 and 10 p.m. Refer to comedy listing.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Lyric Stage Company: Playwright Tennessee Williams excelled at depicting couples who were anything but hearts and flowers. Lyric Stage presents one of his masterworks, anchored by the sparks that fly between husband-and-wife Brick and Maggie “the Cat.” Refer to theater listing.

Table for Two
Getting a reservation anywhere on Valentine’s Day is a tricky proposition. Take our advice: stay in and order room service on the big night, then after the throngs have moved on, venture out the next several nights to any of these top restaurants that are awash with romance 365 nights a year.

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

Casa Romero, 30 Gloucester St., 617-536-4341. Delicious and authentic Mexican food and décor, tucked away on a quiet Back Bay sidestreet.

The Melting pot, Boston Park Plaza Hotel, 76 Arlington St., 617-357-7007. Fondue for two? What could be more decadent?

Tangierino, 83 Main St., Charlestown, 617-242-6009. Exotic Moroccan cuisine in a palatial space abounding with tables under private tents and soft pillows to sit upon.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 45 School St., 617-742-8401. Housed in Boston’s Old City Hall, Ruth’s Chris serves top-quality steaks in a number of opulent dining rooms.

Sandrine’s Bistro, 8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, 617-497-5300. Creative Alsatian cuisine meets genuine European ambiance.

Sonsie, 327 Newbury St., 617-351-2500. Ask for a seat in the subterranean wine cellar and savor eclectic New American cuisine in romantic seclusion.

Antico Forno, 93 Salem St., 617- 723-6733. Delicious, pretension-free brick-oven Italian food away from the hustle and bustle of the North End’s main drag.

Lala Rokh, 97 Mt. Vernon St., 617-720-5511. Exotic and flavorful Persian cuisine in the heart of classy Beacon Hill.

OM, 92 Winthrop St., Cambridge, 617-576-2800. Far East fusion cuisine in an environment that’s part sleek cocktail lounge, part Tibetan-influenced restaurant.