Some of the more romantic dining spots in the Atlantic City region
Searching for a place this Valentine’s Day providing excellent food with an ambiance suitable for romance? Read on, I’ll share with you a few of my favorite regional spots for dining au deux.
The Reserve at Ballys, 1900 Pacific Ave., 609-340-2350. An elegant eatery and one of Atlantic City’s most underrated restaurants. The sweeping ocean view and daring executive chef, Joseph Muldoon, combine to challenge preconceived notions associated with the steak house genre. A special Valentine’s Day menu demonstrates: apps include long-stem artichokes paired with Spanish navel orange jewels or a Maine lobster and frisee salad tossed with a crème fraiche citronette.
Azure by Allegretti, Revel, Atlantic City. 609-225-9870. We are still marveling over both the alluring atmosphere and the curiously healthful, yet decadent cuisine of Alain Allegretti. With The Chelsea Hotel’s Chelsea Prime closed for the season, this just might be A.C.’s most stunning space. Close out your meal with a stimulating Guanaja chocolate mousse, dusted with salted caramel, feuillantine (ultra thin pastry) marshmallow and hazelnut gelato.
The Melting Pot, 2112 Atlantic Ave., 609-441-1100. There is just something so inherently sexy about fondue. Perhaps it’s the shared sensual experience of handling your own food and serving one another? That decadent pot of liquid chocolate which awaits you as dessert definitely doesn’t hurt either. Be sure to inquire about private dining spaces, where you’ll sup behind an opaque barrier, allowing for an even greater degree of intimacy.
Domenico’s, 5223 Ventnor Ave., Ventnor, 609-822-1300. Chef/owner Dom Rizzo’s storefront BYOB does traditional Italian — a cuisine most conducive to love — simply, but skillfully. Although the Bronx-born chef looks every bit as a tough as that borough’s rep, his food demonstrates a remarkable attention to detail and gentle clarity. Like the Love Boats starter — delicate leaves of endive filled with a corn, crab, black olive and red onion blend. Or a lobster entree called Sinatra, featuring little neck clams, shiitake mushrooms and pignoli nuts doused in a cherry tomato sauce hinted with anise.
Latz’s By the Bay, 801 Bay Ave., Somers Pt., 609-788-8838. Another BYOB, this one in a watery locale, Latz’s is the creation of veteran husband and wife restaurateurs Andrew and Adrienne Latz. Looking like a picturesque English cottage, the atmosphere here is warm and inviting. In keeping with that appearance, they’ve offered Afternoon Tea in the past on weekends, a unique service we hope will continue.
Ram’s Head Inn, 9 W. White Horse Pike, Galloway, 609-652-1700. A regional dining landmark for decades, they have of late transitioned from special-occasion restaurant into one much more accessible to the general public. Multiple, luxuriously-appointed dining areas, a lively tavern plus quiet, personal sections conspire to craft all the requisite elements for romantic adventure. Worth mentioning: Management here has been openly, actively supportive of the local LGBT community as well.
Joe Italiano’s Maplewood Inn II, 6126 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing, 609-625-1181. With all the jaunty charm of an anachronistic roadhouse from another era, this second incarnation of icon Joe Italiano’s vision for Italian-American cookery entices travelers with the famous Black Horse Pike signage promising “World’s Best Spaghetti.” Trust me, that is not a vainglorious boast. In fact, they serve one of the sexiest plates of seafood and pasta on the planet — Uncle Nino, which is bursting with lobster, shrimp, Dungeness crab and clams in either red or white sauce.
O’Donnell’s Pour House, 3900 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City, 609-263-5600. A hidden gem of a restaurant, this Irish steak house is tucked away in Sea Isle’s northern confines. Authentic food of the Emerald Island — Colcannon Potatoes or Bangers and Mash — alongside diversity like a brilliant starter of smoked salmon pizza on grilled flat bread with dill aioli and reasonably-priced steak by the ounce. Don’t miss one of the dozen or so creative sauces for meat and seafood. A cozy booth on the elevated section opposite the sometimes-raucous bar makes for an ideal Valentine’s Day dinner spot.
Atlantic City’s dining scene has developed into an east coast mecca for foodies in the past decade with an amazing collection of outstanding restaurants. And when it comes to restaurant styles, perhaps the city’s crowning achievement is the extensive collection of upscale steakhouses. One of the best of these heavenly red meat emporiums is Morton’s The Steakhouse.
Housed in the historic, restored Virginia Hotel — itself dating to 1879 — the Ebbitt’s pretty space transforms via an array of lights and decorations into a holiday spectacle.
While the “healthful” term may appear broad or vague, there is nothing to be misunderstood about Somers Point’s Heavenly Health Café.