Utah Bites

ROMANCE IN THE AIR Under the Radar Date Night Dining

Here are some spots for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic meal in Salt Lake and beyond that might not be so apparent. 


When recommending restaurants for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, it’s tempting to name the obvious, tried and true places. I’m thinking, of course, of spots like Log Haven, La Caille, Grappa, Mariposa and Fireside Dining at Deer Valley Resort, Veneto, Tupelo, Caffe Molise, Tuscany, Yuta at Blue Sky Ranch … those sorts of restaurants. But I believe that if you’re with the right person, almost any eatery can become a romantic one. Here are some spots for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic meal that might not be so apparent. 

Maybe it’s the tactile nature of eating sushi, but I’ve always thought that sushi is sexy. More often than not, sushi is about sharing and intimacy and I can’t think of a better place to share sushi in an intimate space than at Takashi. Takashi Gibo is a true shokunin – meaning “artisan” or “craftsman” in Japanese. Take advantage of his vast sushi knowledge by putting yourself in his hands and dine omakase style. There’s a good likelihood you’ll be introduced to flavors you won’t find in most sushi restaurants, like kamasu (barracuda), kohada (gizzard shad), iwashi (Japanese sardine), mirugai (giant clam), umi masu (Tasmanian sea trout), shima aji (trevally jack), and much more. Make your meal at Takashi a romantic culinary learning adventure. Other great sushi spots include Kobe, Yuki Yama Sushi, Kyoto, Blue Marlin, Fat Fish, Sapa, Sushi Groove, Mint, Sushi Blue, and Blue Fin Sushi

Nosh Mezze Platter

Middle Eastern cuisine is also about sharing and sharing can be very romantic. There are two Middle Eastern restaurants that I think would be a slam-dunk for a romantic meal. The first is Ali Sabbah’s Mazza, which has been serving up authentic Middle Eastern fare in SLC for over 20 years – and all of it is natural: no antibiotics or hormones, all vegetarian-fed, lamb, beef and chicken. Start with sharing an order of the Mediterranean lamb meatballs with tomato-pomegranate sauce before enjoying entrees like the signature lamb & rice dolaa, garnished with pine nuts and almonds, or maybe the rich flavors of chicken & potatoes mutabbak. Another excellent Middle Eastern restaurant with leanings toward Israel is Nosh in Park City. At Nosh, Chef/Owner Jason Greenberg dishes up tasty latkes, killer herbed falafel, matzo ball soup, an eye-popping mezze platter for the table and much more in an intimate, cozy setting. Other good options for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare include Laziz Kitchen, Manoli’s, Beirut Cafe, Afghan Kitchen, O’Falafel, and Layla Mediterranean Grill & Meze.

Pizza Nono Margherita

Sharing a pizza is a good way to stoke a romantic fire and what better place to do that than at Ti Amo in Bountiful. The name of the small mom and pop eatery is said to have originated when Ti Amo owner Mauro Bonfanti shouted “Ti amo! Gloria!” to his would-be wife Gloria Bonfanti. It’s a love story that would eventually lead the couple to Utah (lucky us!) and to bring some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza I’ve yet to find here. This is seriously good pizza. The same can be said for the pizzas at Pizza Nono, Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta, Settebello, Stoneground Italian Kitchen, Red Rock Brewing,  Settebello, Este Pizzeria, Oak Wood Fire Kitchen, Villagio and Nomad East. 

Whether sharing first-date drinks or toasting to a longstanding love affair, Ryan Lowder’s Copper Common is a perfect spot for either. Kick off your romantic evening with a sensuous oyster shooter or maybe the sexy Sylvia cocktail made with Oloroso Sherry, Sibona Amaro, and Vermouth. A nice, crisp Rosé wine is another can’t-miss choice for Valentine’s Day or any other. Copper Common also serves up way better than average bar fare ranging from croque madame sandwiches and lamb merguez meatballs to the CC Burger (burger perfection), duck confit bucatini, and mussels with leeks and Pernod cream. Other outstanding date night drink spots include The Green Pig, Franklin Avenue Cocktails & Kitchen, Garage on Beck, Alibi, Purgatory, Bourbon House, White Horse, Water Witch, The Pearl, Ivy & Varley, Under Current, Lake Effect, Alpine Pie Bar, and Post Office Place.  

Culinary quote of the week: “Date night is important, even if it’s going to Schlotsky’s.” – Brad Paisley 




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Food writer Ted Scheffler

Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.

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