Table For Two

by Kathryn Brooks and Michael Powers

This Valentine’s Day, why not share a delicious dinner served in a beautiful setting with your special someone and see where the night takes you? Here are ten romantic Valley restaurants, in no particular order, that top our list.

CAFE MONARCH

Whether you prefer a stylish table in the elegant dining room or a candlelit table on the patio under the stars, Cafe Monarch in Old Town Scottsdale delivers. Begin your Valentine’s Day evening with one of the signature cocktails such as a Strawberry Negroni or a Monarch Gin Fizz. 

Recently ranked by Yelp and Trip Advisor as the second most romantic restaurant in the country, settle in to this ultra-marvelous setting with the seasonal, four-course prix fixe menu. The chef-inspired high-end fare leans toward classic fine dining where filet mignon and foie gras are mainstays.  

Start with roasted apple and parsnip soup sprinkled with smoked pine nuts and a brioche gruyère cheese panini. After a well-balanced winter salad, choose among three entrées; rosemary butter-basted filet mignon, seared Chilean sea bass or roasted portabella polenta lasagna with sides of Maine diver scallops and Hudson Valley foie gras available. End the meal on a sweet note with rum cake with vanilla bean gelato and topped with a salted caramel-toasted pecan sauce.. https://www.cafemonarch.com/

MORA ITALIAN

Home to Scott Conant’s seasonal menu of modern osteria fare, Mora Italian is an ideal spot for Valentine’s Day dinner. The atmosphere is comfy, the service friendly and the food delicious. Settle into a cozy red-leather banquette with one of the eclectic cocktails inspired by Italian apéritifs or a glass from the well-curated wine list.

Then begin your four-course meal with Yellowtail crudo or creamy cauliflower soup. Among the next grouping, the chef’s signature dish of pasta al pomodoro is an absolute must. Braised beef short ribs with herbed spaetzle or roasted sea scallops with artichokes and trumpet mushrooms are two of several entrée options. For the final course, satisfy your sweet tooth and order the salted-caramel budino (pudding) topped with whipped cream and gianduja crunch. https://www.moraitalian.com/

TALAVERA

Talavera delivers exquisite cuisine, well-considered wine pairings and truly spectacular views of the high Sonoran desert. If you’d like to enjoy your meal with a backdrop of the sun setting over Pinnacle Peak, time your reservation and book a table on the outdoor patio. Providing extra ambience, flamenco musicians and dancers will perform throughout the evening.

 The Valentine’s Day dinner menu includes five courses with dishes specially selected by the chef. For the ultimate indulgence, add wine parings to each course. Served from 5:30-9:30 p.m., the entrée options are succulent lobster or Wagyu flat iron steak. A dessert of strawberries and cream topped with crispy meringue will end your meal on a sweet note. www.talaverarestaurant.com

HOUSE OF TRICKS 

With its sun-dappled patio, tree-covered bar and two historic bungalows, it’s no wonder Robert and Robin Trick’s cozy dining oasis in the heart of Tempe remains as popular as ever 30+ years into the game.

Tuck into a candlelit table on the outdoor patio or around the vintage stone fireplace indoors and enjoy a rustic, seasonal farm-inspired menu, which mixes French and Southwest flavors into elegant plates of grilled meats and fish in delicate sauces. The menu, which  changes frequently, may include specialties such as duck confit with sweet onion purée and grilled salmon with honey-parsnip purée and five-spice sauce. 

The patio, filled with flowers, shade trees and a fireplace, has an outdoor bar that’s built around a tree – a great place to linger for an after-dinner nightcap. www.houseoftricks.com/

HEARTH ‘61

The signature restaurant at Mountain Shadows Resort, Hearth ’61, is celebrating the holiday of love. Indulge in Chef Charles Wiley’s three-course, seasonal menu by starting with a citrus-cured beef and warm goat cheese salad. Choose either the Surf & Turf, butter-poached lobster and prime tenderloin of beef, or pan-seared sea bass. Strawberry chiffon cake with mascarpone pistachio mousse will be the finishing touch. Enjoy half-priced bottles of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, dance to live music and stay the night at a special rate. www.mountainshadows.com

QUIESSENCE RESTAURANT

This farmhouse turned eatery, nestled in the historic and pastoral Farm at South Mountain, exudes romance both in setting and cuisine. The formal dining area, framed by mulberry trees strung with tiny lights, offers views of the surrounding working produce farm. 

Executive Chef Dustin Christofolo has created a truly farm-to-table Valentine’s dining experience sourced from the property’s organic garden as well as local purveyors. This special menu will feature a wine pairing option, curated by in-house sommelier Alison Sponberg.

Available on February 12 through 16, the four-course tasting menu will start with smoked apple soup or an edible flower salad. For the second course there’s pasta with prosciutto. Entrées include an Iberico pork chop or seared-dayboat sea scallops. Topping the meal is semifreddo, an airy mousse served in a thin almond tuile with grapefruit sorbet. 

Guests are invited to stroll through the flower gardens before or after dinner. For a more romantic encounter, cozy up near the fireplace or enjoy a relaxed glass of wine on a patio. https://www.thefarmatsouthmountain.com/quiessence-restaurant/elements

ELEMENTS

No selection of local restaurants offering five-star cuisine, stylish décor and breathtaking views would be complete without including elements. Located in Paradise Valley at the posh Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain Resort, this spot gets an A+ for romance. Be sure to time your evening meal just right to ensure a stunning sunset backdrop.

The Food Network veteran and local legend Executive Chef Beau MacMillan continues to create exceptional dishes crafted from local organic produce, sustainable seafood and hormone-free meats for an Asian-inspired menu.

Begin chef’s four-course dinner menu with a chilled seafood quartet, white asparagus lemon risotto or salmon carpaccio. Followed by a choice of salads, entrées include glazed Chilean sea bass, bacon-wrapped filet of beef, Maple Leaf Farm’s Duck or a veggie Wellington. Dessert options like a pink champagne panda cotta with passion fruit curd or Tahitian vanilla eclair in raspberry glaze will leave you satisfied. https://www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/dining/elements/

ZUZU 

From 5:30 to 10 p.m., ZuZu will be serving a three-course dinner. A starter buffet will include raw seafood, imported and domestic cheeses served with rustic breads, assorted salads and charcuterie platters with sliced and cured meats. Your choice of five entrées include a one-pound, bone-in prime ribeye, lobster and crab carbonara or Scottish salmon. Just be sure to save room for the strawberry, red velvet cream cake with chocolate ganache dessert, aptly named the Show Stopper Shake for Two. Live music in the lounge will keep the party hopping from 8 to 11 p.m. and, if you want to make a night of it, diners can reserve a studio guest room at a special discounted rate. www.hotelvalleyho.com

MARCELLINO RISTORANTE

For this romantic occasion, Marcellino Ristorante and Joya Spa at Omni Resort, Montelucia are partnering to present an exclusive Dinner and Decadence Valentine’s Gift Package. Designed to pamper couples, the gift includes an dinner on any evening from February 13 to 17 in Chef Marcellino’s intimate, velvet-draped cove for two. The experience includes a delectable four-course dinner created and prepared by Chef Marcellino and paired with Italian varietals. Then, dessert will be presented with a Joya Spa couples gift certificate that includes a one-hour massage for two, lunch poolside or on the patio, and the use of all of the spa’s amenities for the day. the spa’s luxurious amenities for the day. marcellinoristorante.com/

MATCH RESTAURANT and LOUNGE 

On February 14, from 5-11 p.m., Match Restaurant and Lounge at FOUND:RE Phoenix will feature a special dinner menu. Appetizer choices include Creole oysters in saffron-tomato broth on a bed of lemon-fried okra, herb-marinated goat loin or blistered stuffed red bell peppers. Then, couples choose an entree to share; old-fashioned spaghetti and meatball, a Tomahawk chop or brown-braised rainbow trout. Desserts are also meant to be shared such as a plate of chocolate-covered bacon, strawberries, mini eclairs and shortbread cookies or New York-style cheesecake with a strawberry compote. Note: a variation of this menu will be available on February 15 and 16. https://matchphx.com/