A TABLE FOR TWO
By Kathryn Brooks, Michael Powers and Lisa Turner

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 that top our list.

QUIESSENCE RESTAURANT & WINE BAR

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.

Chef Dustin Christofolo’s American cuisine includes an array of the season’s freshest ingredients, pulled straight from the farm’s organic garden. Hearth breads are baked on premises in an outdoor wood oven, and the menu features vegetarian dishes as well as meat and fish and homemade pastas in a refined-casual ambience.

A four-course Valentine’s menu will be offered from February 11 through February 15. 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 wine-and-cheese pairing on a patio. https://www.thefarmatsouthmountain.com/quiessence-restaurant/

HEARTH ’61

Love is in the air at Hearth ’ 61. Celebrate on either February 14 or 15 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and indulge in a perfectly prepared three-course dinner. Guests will be treated to live music on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

The holiday feast begins with Lobster Salad, then Hamachi Crudo. Choose either Niman Ranch Prime New York Striploin or Mushroom Ravioli as your entrée. Ending on a sweet note, enjoy a luscious Red Velvet Cheesecake with bittersweet chocolate mousse, white chocolate sauce and vanilla bean meringue kisses. Wine pairings are available at an additional charge. 

Chef Charles Wiley’s seasonal dinner menu will be available in addition to the prix fix menu. Better yet, why not make a night of it and indulge in the hotel’s Bath Butler Experience. The following day, a few hours poolside in mid-February would be a fine thing indeed. www.mountainshadows.com

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.

MacMillan’s four-course prix fixe Valentine’s Day menu includes specialities such as Bacon-Wrapped Filet of Beef served with scampi-style shrimp, pomme purée and garlic spinach in a butter sauce and Roasted Shellfish Paella with Maine lobster, shrimp, calamari scallops, chorizo, English peas and flavored with saffron. https://www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/dining/elements/

THE HOUSE BRASSERIE

Chef Matt Carter, known for The Mission, Fat Ox and Zinc Bistro restaurants, can add The House Brasserie to his list of culinary successes. Set in a charming, yet sophisticated, little ‘20s bungalow in Old Town Scottsdale, the restaurant evokes a bygone era. The vibe is vintage-chic and the menu of modern American fare allows guests to be a part of cutting-edge world cuisine.

Offering a Valentine’s Day three-course menu, entrée selections include Stonington Bay Scallops, Roasted Quail and Akaushi New York Strip Steak. Romantics can either enjoy their meals inside on a red leather banquette under sparkling chandeliers, or outside on a sprawling patio complete with white picket fence and brick fireplace by an impressive tree. https://thehousebrasserie.com

ZUZU

Valley Ho’s ZuZu is offering several different ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, depending on whether you want to get dinner with your sweetheart or party with your friends. Enjoy a three-course meal with seatings between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Split a half bottle of Veuve and choose each of your courses from Executive Chef Russell LaCasce’s exclusive Valentine’s Day menu. 

The V-Day After Dark Party is a fun new twist on this traditional day. Join us in ZuZu from 8:00 p.m. to midnight for live DJ entertainment, drinks, dancing and a delicious dessert display. Or indulge with the Valentine’s Show Stopper Shake. This Strawberry Cheesecake culinary confection has graham cracker milk crumb, frosted rice treat hearts, strawberry cheesecake, dark chocolate truffles and a chocolate-covered strawberry. 

If  you’re so inclined to celebrate all week long, the VH Spa has specials from February 10 through 16. Get two glasses of bubbly when you book two  spring treatments. www.hotelvalleyho.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.

Start your meal with one of the eclectic cocktails inspired by Italian aperitifs or a glass from the well-curated wine list that spans both old and new-world styles. A hearty table-side bread cart, daily handmade pasta, wood-fired pizza Napoletana and a collection of satisfying mains and antipasti set the stage for a remarkable meal.

Ask to be seated at a cozy red-leather banquette or, if you prefer, outside on the patio. The pasta is a must and, if you and your significant other are into chocolate, the warm chocolate cake serve with hazelnut gelato, spiced nutella and hazelnut brittle is an absolute must. https://www.moraitalian.com

CAFE MONARCH

Whether you prefer an early seating on a sun-drenched patio, or a candlelit dinner 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.

Then settle in to this ultra-romantic setting by selecting 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.

End the meal on a sweet note with choices such as Banana Foster Beignets with crème Anglaise, vanilla bean gelato and caramel sauce or Chocolate Flourless Cake topped with macerated strawberries, raspberry coulis and Chantilly crème. https://www.cafemonarch.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

LON’S AT THE HERMOSA INN

One eyeful of the surroundings at this fine-dining establishment at The Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, and it’s easy to see what may once have inspired the restaurant’s namesake, legendary artist Lon Megargee, to call it home in the ‘30s.

An enchanting patio and an indoor setting of old Arizona charm — think wood-beamed ceilings, beehive fireplaces, and wrought-iron chandeliers — are perfect spots to enjoy chef Jeremy Pacheco’s artful American cuisine and drinks made with Lon’s private label whiskey from Del Bac.

The three-course Valentine’s Day menu highlights include Wagyu Beef Duo, Hawaiian Snapper and Rosewater Strawberry Panna Cotta to complete the meal. https://www.hermosainn.com/lons

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.

Chef Samantha Sanz is preparing a five-course Valentine’s Tasting menu that begins with Spanakopita Bites followed by Tuna Crudo. an Heirloom Beet Salad and your choice of either Braised Short Ribs or Barramundi Sea Bass. A creamy Queso Fresco Cheesecake with a raspberry and guava glaze will complete the meal.

For a true indulgence, complement each of the five-course dishes with a well-paired wine. www.talaverarestaurant.com