Where to wine, dine your Valentine

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In affairs of the heart, the right setting sets the mood and makes all the difference. Needless to say, it behooves you to pick the precisely right spot when dining with your Valentine.


Dine in the home of the great lover himself, Rudolf Valentino. Caffe on the Green is it. He lived there alongside the what is now the Throgs Neck Bridge. Settle for nothing less than seating in the intimate art deco Valentino room. With piano, fireplace and a tres chic bar, it’s meant for lovers. Food and service there bespeaks New York Society. Your lady love will be duly impressed with your savoir faire. Or, you can give her Manhattan. The stunning view of the East River from Water’s Edge in Long Island City can’t be beat. The food and service is impeccable. But for ultimate romance, ask the “I do” question on the complimentary Water’s Edge Ferry Shuttle which leaves hourly to go to and from Manhattan and Queens .


It’s over. You want to split but you sincerely want the let down to be pleasant, less painful. The best choice is to return to “our favorite spot.” Was it the 1,000-seat Master Grill with its Brazilian BBQ menu in Flushing or the Merry Peddler in Floral Park? Reminisce about the good times and how much they will always mean. Have an after dinner cordial, a glass of Sauterne, an espresso with sambuca that you pledge will forever be “our drink,” even though “we” are no more.


Soon you will be three. Instead of taking the romantic route with hearts and flowers and music, sashay over to the White House in Whitestone with it’s presidential decor and campaign catering. Dream on. Someday your little one, he or she, may be president.


Who doesn’t feel a bit more inclined to romance with a harpist providing background music? At Marbella in Bayside, a harpist plucks as you dine on Spanish Continental cuisine and fantasize about the flamenco, tango and gado, all of which adds Latin lover mystique to the occasion. Guitars serenade you as you dine organically at the Garden of Eating, an appealing, intimate Greenwich Village-type spot in Bayside on Union Turnpike.


A whispered something or a kiss while you’re dancing bespeaks romance. Italian Punta Dura in Astoria, and French/Kosher La France in Forest Hills will do nicely. Piris Grill in Great Neck has Mediterranean music and belly dancing.


Drink it in. The new in spot, Sage, a Tea Cafe, is on the corner of Main Street and 39th Avenue opposite Flushing's St. George Church. It has candy box red decor. The menu is “Chinese Soda Parlor,” with lots of hot and cold pearl tapioca beverages to sip through wide plastic straws, special milk shakes, classic and special beverages. There’s classic snacks from toast to fried favorites to hors d’oeuvres to bowls of noodles and rice. The cruller-looking spicy chicken was very popular.


If circumstances determine that it’s mommy and daddy and the kids - hers, his or ours - head for the new Main Street Mall, not on Main Street at all but across from the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing. Parking is across the street from the rainbow-lighted mall with its exciting food court, mostly oriental but Mexican, too. Then go around the corner to the Flushing Hall Culture Gallery and take in the exhibition of ceramic art, stone sculpture and wood and root carvings. The huge animals and mammoth sailing ships will wow Dad the kids.


Brunch served in the winter garden, has to be the newest, most dramatic brunch around. Brunch her at Cave on 31st Avenue in Astoria, a dramatic new cafe, lounge and winter garden .


It’s the 21st century. So feel free. Invite him to steakhouse row on Northern in Great Neck where the biggies are all in a row: Peter Luger, Burton and Doyle, Morton’s of Chicago and North Shore Steak House. Or go cozier at Uncle Jack’s in Bayside or the new Napa and Sonoma in Whitestone.


If serenity and vegging out is what she craves, make a reservation pronto at the Zen Pavilion in Little Neck. It’s so spacious. It’s so elegant. The service actually mimics Manhattan’s Four Seasons. The food is excellent. The presentations dramatic. The food is also certified kosher, vegetarian cuisine.


Bistro Olivia on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills has all the elements for romance - sophistication and charm, exposed bricks, subdued lighting, candles, Provence countryside mural, and a wood burning fireplace. It is cozily sophisticated, and the food is wonderful Mediterranean. The waiters have been trained to select the perfect accompanying wine. Woo her with an appetizer or dessert wine as well as one that goes with the entree. It’s a place to say, “I love you more each year.” And wouldn’t the gift of a ring over dinner make the ultimate sweet conclusion?


So, you’ve gone to a play, or a movie or rented the most sought after video. The perfect takeout plus a chilled bottle of champagne or spumanti, elevates it to something memorable. He/she is newly addicted or nostalgically remembers White Castle’s burgers in Sunnyside or Bayside. Even for just “we two,” get the Crave Case, 30 - burgers stacked in a cardboard suit case (They’ll freeze, my dear).

Or go the route of sushi, and nothing but. In this scenario you might consider substituting saki hot, or saki cold. But champagne goes beautifully. If you’re picking them up on the way home, stop in at Sushi Nara on Bell in Bayside. As you wait for the order seated on black filigree chairs in this delightful, tiny spot, you’ll start the repast on a romantic note. Or pretend the waterfall at Little Tokyo on Northern in Douglaston is Niagara Falls and stop there. Save the bagel sushi for breakfast.

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