Adding ‘amore’ to Valentine’s Day service
Italian restaurants, arguably, have a leg up in delivering such an experience—just look to iconic films like Roman Holiday, A Little Romance, or even Eat Pray Love, where cuisine is elevated to a near sensual level. Food is, of course, the crux of this experience for restaurants, but as cinema demonstrates, other sensory cues also play an important role.
Sight. From dim lighting, candles, and fireplaces to exposed brick and fresh flowers, Italian eateries draw guests in at first sight.
“There’s just something about a small Italian restaurant that makes it the epitome of romance,” Fierman says. “Dim lighting, exposed brick, dark wood elements, and the open kitchen make it feel warm and inviting—much like the small neighborhood trattorias nestled throughout the streets of Italy.”
Sound. The soft clinking of silverware and pouring of wine is a welcome sound that’s muted only by atmospheric music floating overhead. “Create a space that's not too loud,” Imbrenda says. “Guests need to be able to hear each other. Have soft music in the background to keep the pace and spirit of the night without dominating it.”
Water serves as music at Servino Ristorante. “Our restaurant is situated along the waterfront of the San Francisco Bay,” Servino says. “During the day, the sounds of the water lapping against the piers lend a natural romantic element.”
Scent. The aromas within an Italian restaurant warm the spirit and prepare the appetite for a feast. The bouquet of a wood-burning oven, garlic hitting olive oil, and pasta sauce being ladled into sharable bowls set stomachs rumbling.
Taste. Menu descriptions that tell a tale of handmade pastas, locally sourced and imported Italian ingredients, shareable dishes, and sumptuous desserts tug at the taste buds. “La Tavola Trattoria’s executive chef Andrew Peterson maintains a micro-seasonal menu, which utilizes the freshest produce, blending traditional Italian dishes with more modern techniques and culinary practices,” Fierman says.
Touch. Soft textiles, natural materials, exposed brick, and cozy seating invite guests to sit back and relax. “We have a secret menu and hidden space in a small wine cellar of the restaurant; it’s specifically for couples seeking a more intimate and romantic setting,” Imbrenda says. “Couples curate their food and wine menu based on their interests while listening to smooth music playing on a vintage record player.”