Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Heart-Shaped Pizza, Red Velvet Doughnuts, and Decadent Tasting Menus for Two

Monday, January 27, 2020
This Valentine's Day, nothing says "I love you" quite like a tasting menu filled with Wagyu beef, oysters Rockefeller, and Veuve Clicquot gelée. From casual holiday specials to a dog-friendly Howlentine’s Day, here are some of the best restaurants in which to celebrate in Chicago.
Photo courtesy of Avli
312 Chicago Let's face it: It doesn't get any more romantic than Romeo & Juliet. And who better to pay homage to this timeless tale than chef Luca Corazzina, who grew up in the town of Verona, Italy, where the play was set. For Valentine's Day, he's got a Romeo & Juliet–inspired tasting menu for couples, with swoon-inducing items like tuna tartare; risotto with strawberries and crab; gnocchi with Fontina fondue and oyster mushrooms; filet mignon and lobster tail with beef-fat-pureed Yukon gold potatoes and vanilla Prosecco sauce; and chocolate sponge cake with raspberry and chocolate mousse. Details: February 14 and 15; $120 per couple Acadia Any meal at this South Loop stalwart is a memorable occasion, but it’s especially befitting a Valentine’s Day splurge—especially when chef-owner Ryan McCaskey is offering a four-course tasting with dishes like cured salmon with parsnip-horseradish puree; Wagyu beef with prawn-and-curry Bordelaise; and flourless chocolate torte with passion fruit sorbet, vanilla bean caramel, and candied cocoa nibs. Details: Tasting menu is available February 13–16 Avli From olives to shellfish and seafood galore, Greek cuisine is naturally filled with aphrodisiacs, making it ripe for Valentine’s Day dining. All three locations of Avli—Lincoln Park, Winnetka, River North—will be offering special four-course meals for the occasion, with alluring dishes like baked clams with halloumi fries, citrus salad, pan-seared filet with ouzo-creamed wild greens, braised short ribs, mushroom moussaka, and caramel baklava ice cream. Details: February 14; prix fixe is $60 per person Bar Roma  As Lady and the Tramp can attest, there’s something innately romantic about Italian food, so you’d be wise to share some pasta—and some fish and some steak—with your loved one on Valentine’s Day. This cozy Andersonville haunt is featuring a slew of specials for the holiday, including cream of cauliflower soup, hearts of palm salad, hand-rolled seafood ravioli, sautéed snapper, 22-ounce wood-grilled porterhouse, and a passion fruit dessert trio. Details: February 14, 5–11 p.m.
Photo by Ethan Jollie/Courtesy of Beatnik
Beatnik Here’s a fun one, especially for all the singles out there. This West Town stunner is hosting a No Human, No Cry party on February 13, featuring $8 slushies, $8 spreads, and $8 bubbly all night long, set to the upbeat tunes of DJ-spun reggae. Details: February 13 District Brew Yards As a proud dachshund parent, I understand that the love between a human and their dog is real love. Adorably, District Brew Yards is celebrating Howlentine’s Day on February 16, with (fittingly) Bold Dog Beer Co. Owners can bring their pups through the dock entrance to enjoy a new beer release from the brewery, and holiday-themed dog costumes are encouraged. Details: February 16, 1–5 p.m.
Photo courtesy of El Che Steakhouse & Bar
El Che Steakhouse & Bar Sure, you can share oysters and chocolate with your loved one, or you can up the ante with El Che’s epic parrillada platter for two. The Valentine’s Day special is a surf and turf smorgasbord of four prawns, one lobster tail, an 8-ounce filet, and hollandaise sauce. It goes for $90, or $125 when paired with a bottle of sparkling rosé. Details: February 14 ETA Restaurant + Bar  This Streeterville eatery is criminally underrated for its contemporary American ingenuity and cooking. For Valentine’s Day, for instance, ETA is dishing up an enticing tasting menu that comes with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. Items served include winter squash risotto with brown butter, truffles, and aged Cheddar; surf and turf of filet and colossal shrimp with pomme puree, farm carrots, romanesco, and béarnaise; and Manjari chocolate biscuits with strawberries and Veuve Clicquot gelée (!). Details: February 14 and 15; $56 per person Geja’s Cafe Leave it to Chicago’s foremost fondue institution to feature a full-blown, nine-day Valentine’s festival. Beginning February 9, the Lincoln Park icon is decorating its romantic dining room with even more romantic fixtures, not to mention live flamenco and classic guitarists. There will be a specialty selection of sparkling rosé wines and champagnes, along with shareable fondue specials. Additionally, February 10 is Geja’s Celebration of Marriage Night, and couples get an extra discount based on the number of years they’ve been married. Details: February 9–17
Photo courtesy of Geja’s Cafe
Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta Nothing says “I love you” like a heart-shaped pizza, am I right? One of the most adored local pizza institutions, Pizano’s, is offering heart-shaped pies all February long at all Chicagoland locations. If you’re not in Chicago, fear not. These beauties can also be shipped nationally. Details: Heart-shaped pizzas available all of February Stan’s Donuts & Coffee You know what’s better than a dozen roses? A dozen doughnuts. This beloved local mini chain is rolling out a variety of Valentine’s Day doughnuts in February, including a chocolate turtle cake (classic vanilla cake topped with chocolate, caramel pecans, and chocolate drizzle), a chocolate-covered red velvet, and Valentine’s-themed sprinkle numbers. Details: Valentine’s doughnuts are available February 2–14
Photo courtesy of Stan’s Donuts & Coffee
Sunda Sushi and oysters are my personal go-to when it comes to romantic cravings—or, really, any craving in general. And Sunda is tugging at my heartstrings this year with Valentine’s Day specials like Bleeding Heart maki with spicy tuna, pickled daikon, tobiko, and spicy mayo; baked oysters with lobster-uni butter; and pink guava cupcakes. Details: Specials available February 14 Tortello The only way Italian food could be any more romantic is if it’s served at a restaurant run by a husband and wife. And said restaurant is hosting a pasta-making class for couples. Wicker Park’s charming new Tortello celebrates the holiday with a guided, hands-on pasta-making class, followed by a meal filled with finger foods, heart-shaped pasta, meats, seafood, and sweets. Tickets available here. Details: February 14, 6–8 p.m.; $80 per person Wood It’s aphrodisiac heaven at this Boystown fave, where chef Ryan Brosseau is cooking up a four-course couple’s menu filled with the likes of oysters Rockefeller; hand-cut taglierini with roasted garlic and truffles; and, for the main course, either Chateaubriand or salmon en croute with sorrel cream sauce and fennel salad. For dessert, it’s dark chocolate pot de crème with English toffee, orange caramel, and candied orange. Details: February 14, 5–11 p.m.; $70 per person