Firenze Trattoria, Encinitas, 760-944-9000. At this beautiful, semirural restaurant, where town turns into country, $60 per person buys diners a multiple-choice three-course Italian menu with something for every taste, including a lacto-vegetarian eggplant parmigiana.
George’s at the Cove, La Jolla, 858-454-4244. You don’t have to crowd in on Saturday — the special menu runs from Friday through Sunday. Three courses for $55 includes one appetizer (hot or cold), entrée, and dessert. Four courses for $65 covers one cold starter, one hot starter, entrée, and dessert. The automatic gratuity is 20 percent. The choices are too many to enumerate — pretty much a whole menu’s worth. And you get a great Cove view, especially if you luck out with a window table. A special three-course dinner menu will also be available on February 14 at the Ocean Terrace & Bar and George’s Bar for $45.
Grand Del Mar, Carmel Heights, 888-314-2030. Numerous Valentine’s Day packages available, including Addison’s exquisite six-course menu, $125 per person, or $200 per person with superb wine pairings, and Amaya’s four-course array for $110 per person, or $155 per person with paired wines.
Grant Grill, downtown, 619-744-2077. Two decadent choices for your evening here. The five-course (plus amuse) dinner menu for $85 starts with aphrodisiacs — either a fricassee of oysters, sea urchins, and supporting maritime characters, or a smoked-duck consommé with ricotta gnocchi. Second course has sea scallops with caviar cream (among other garnishes) or ahi with foie gras. Entrées include a pork extravaganza, a Niman Ranch steak, or a lamb loin with lamb sausage, followed by a cheese course and a choice of stunning desserts. The alternative spread, at $189 per couple, offers a miniature of the same choices in three courses, along with a glass of wine, followed by ballet tickets for an 8:00 p.m. performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Lyceum.
Island Prime, Harbor Island, 619-298-6802. For $65, along with an eye-popping bay view, you get three courses from local favorite Deborah Scott. Choices include ahi stack or fennel-crusted diver scallops to start, then filet mignon, Colorado lamb rack, cedar-plank salmon, or roast Jidori chicken, ending with a decadent dessert to share.
JRDN, Pacific Beach, 858-270-5736. This chic singles’ spot with its feet right in the sand offers five courses for $70, or $95 with wine pairings — starting with an oyster shooter, then salad, a mid-course of black bass with fig or butternut squash agnolotti with Maine lobster and vanilla, climaxing with a choice of venison or natural Meyer beef filet, and concluding with warm chocolate-chili cake.
Marine Room, La Jolla, 858-459-7222. The room with the best close-up sea-view of all, and a kitchen with Bernard Guillas, one of the best chefs in the region, offers an extraordinary prix-fixe menu on both Friday the 13th and Saturday for $125. Four courses with a huge range of choices, followed by a multi-part dessert extravaganza, and a finale of mignardise (sweets). If the sensual, adventurous cooking and that amazing view don’t make you love each other even more, well — try couples’ therapy.
Mistral, Coronado Silver Strand, 619-424-4000 X 6300. Mistral’s lyrical Mediterranean menu highlights organic fruits and vegetables from nearby farming communities, locally caught seafood from Baja, and herbs from the resort’s own organic garden. The special four-course V-Day menu for $75 per person includes several choices for each course, including diver scallops or truffled wild-mushroom ravioli, followed by Brandt beef tenderloin, Arctic char, or vegetarian risotto, concluding with four ravishing dessert possibilities.
Nine-Ten Restaurant, La Jolla, 858-964-5400. Chef Jason Knibb offers four courses for $80 per person ($99 with wine pairings). After the amuse, you choose between wild mushroom soup or a bistro salad of asparagus, frisée, and organic egg; followed by a prawn salad or an artichoke–Meyer lemon risotto. Entrées include gorgeously garnished Maine lobster tail or roasted petite filet, ending with a choice between two outrageous desserts.
The Pearl, Point Loma, 619-235-5616 x250 or 226-6100. This fun date venue features a Valentine’s Day for Lovers and Singles, with three courses for $50 per person, or $99 for two, seating times at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. (Want to stay on overnight? They have a deluxe “Jewel” guest-room package, including dinner for two at $249. And if they’re not full, you might be able to score a room at midnight for $79.) Pray for no rain: the heated tables by the swimming pool are where it’s at, compared to the cramped “meet market” bar interior. Dinner includes Jidori chicken ravioli en brood or arugula, hazelnut, and goat cheese salad; followed, by sea bass en papillote or roast venison saddle or a vegetarian main dish of vegetables and polenta; and a choice of rich chocolate or fruit desserts.
Prado, Balboa Park, 619-557-9441. Think of Fred and Cyd dancing in Central Park. Here, it’s dinner in Balboa Park (and nobody’s stopping you from dancing up and down the pathways). Three courses for $70, or $90 with matched wines, include an amuse with a glass of wine, followed by four delicious- sounding choices for each course, concluding with a trio of desserts to share.
Quarter Kitchen, Gaslamp Quarter, 619-814.2000. “His and hers” six-course menus for $80 per person from new top toque, local favorite Nathan Coulon (a nominee for a James Beard Award as “rising chef”). If you love each other, you’ll share. “Hers” includes local lobster bisque, salad, crab cake, sorbet, potato-crusted yellowtail with champagne beurre blanc and caviar, and apple financier spiced three ways, while “his” offers cream of mushroom soup with truffle oil, salad, roasted squab with foie gras, sorbet, grilled Prime New York steak, sauce béarnaise and Bordelaise, and liquid chocolate cake.
Red Marlin, Mission Bay, 619-221-4868. In a handsome dining room with a harbor view, lovers receive four courses for $55 per person, both Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th: mushroom-barley soup; prosciutto with Parmesan, pears, pine nuts, and truffle oil; petite filet with lobster, savory bread pudding; and concluding with a chocolate tasting.
Roseville, Point Loma, 619-450-6800. This rosy, airy, ultra-romantic setting offers Amy DiBiase’s leisurely five-course menu for $75, with $35 for matched wines and multiple choices for three of the courses. Highlights include ricotta gnudi dumplings with shaved truffles, half-shell oysters with Osetra caviar, crispy veal sweetbreads, foie gras torchon, diver scallops with salsify confit, and lamb rib-eye with truffle gratin. Best choice for a discreet tryst, if you don’t live in Point Loma.