Area restaurants get creative for this year’s celebration with dine-in, carryout or grab-and-go options

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday. But that’s not the only thing that’s affecting Cupid’s aim. Pandemic-related restrictions have changed the way many of us approach mid-winter celebrations. Fortunately, food and wine are the way to any romantic’s heart, and in Delaware, there are plenty of options—whether you want to eat in a restaurant or at home. And you don’t need to cook!

Indulge in a Morning Delight

Those who start their Feb. 14 festivities early — and with a hearty appetite — can pick up the Brunch Box from Eggspectation in Stanton.

Quiche pizza will be featured at Pizza by Elizabeths. Photo courtesy Pizza By Elizabeths

The impressive collection includes six pancakes, six French toast pieces, 12 scrambled eggs with cheese, 12 pieces of bacon, sausage or ham, two pounds of Lyonnaise style potatoes. The price is $39. It all goes great with a Bloody Mary.

Feel like going out? Pizza By Elizabeths in Greenville plans to hold a jazz brunch with $5 mimosas and specialty quiche pizzas — owner Betsy Leroy’s favorite. Check out their menu and ordering options here!

If you want to stay in, think ahead and purchase Jacquet’s heart-shaped waffles at Janssen’s Market in Greenville. There are 10 ready-to-eat waffles in a pack. (The market also sells heart-shaped cheeses.)

Binge on a Prix Fixe

Multicourse meals are a must on Valentine’s Day, and each year, Janssen’s Market creates a prix-fixe menu with options. The 2021 menu includes a starter, shared salad course, entrée and after-dinner sweets. For the main event, consider lobster mac-and-cheese, bacon-wrapped filet, brown sugar-glazed tomahawk pork chop, citrus-glazed grilled sea bass or Florentine ravioli in a creamy pesto sauce. The price is $79.95 a couple or $49.95 per person.

On Feb. 15, the Stone Balloon in Newark is closing its doors to the general public for a reservation-only event. Diners will receive a three-course meal with options for each course.

The price is $50 for two or $65 with a bottle of wine from a select list. (You can get the meal to go, but you must order in advance.)

Caffé Gelato, also in Newark, has a dine-in or takeout menu with seven courses and multiple add-ons. The meal, priced at $69 per person, will also include wine or Champagne, a red rose and tealights. Oysters Rockefeller, sea salt-seared lamb lollipops, pan-seared champagne day-boat diver scallops and pan-roasted filet or lobster tail.

For an additional $10, you can order a full bottle of bubbly or wine. Add an extra $29 for a dozen roses. Reidel glassware is available for another $29, and if you want a private dining experience — including a meal in a glass greenhouse — add $10 per person. The specials are offered Feb. 11-15.

Ciro on Wilmington’s Riverfront will feature a four-course gourmet meal — along with an amuse and dessert. The mouthwatering menu includes pan-seared scallops with a butternut-squash-black-truffle-grapefruit beurre blanc, coconut-curry-poached lobster, crisp pork belly with bacon-tomato jam and pan-seared filet. The cost is $135 per person.

Branzino is one of the featured entrees at Le Cavalier. Photo courtesy Le Cavalier

Le Cavalier in the Hotel du Pont has created a prix-fixe for Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. (The regular brunch service is available on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Priced at $65 per person, the three-course menu has an impressive number of choices in each category, including duck a l’orange, scallops with blood orange sabayon and prime “bavette” steak au poivre.

If your idea of a gastronomic delight involves finger-licking, down-home fare, head to Limestone BBQ and Bourbon in Stanton for the Philthy Feast. For $59.99, you’ll get a pound of brisket, a half-pound of pulled pork, two chicken quarters, a half-rack of St. Louie-style ribs, two hot Italian sausages and a choice of five sides.

In addition to offering its full menu for Valentine’s weekend, Cromwell’s American Tavern & Taqueria will be offering a prix-fixe special available for dine-in Friday through Sunday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m, or via pick-up or delivery by ordering through their website:

At $30 per person guests can choose between two appetizers options, two entrees — pan-seared blackened salmon topped with arbol pepper and grilled pineapple salsa or braised short rib with chile rojo salsa and onion— and one dessert. Guests dining in or picking up can also order wine ($22-$28) or pure margaritas for $9.50.

Grab & Go

Many of the prix-fixe specials are also available to go. Le Cavalier, however, has a special carryout menu from its Maison x Le Cav division. The $120 meal, which feeds two, will include beets with goat cheese and dill, a shrimp cocktail with harissa sauce, the steak au poivre or a cauliflower steak au poivre and white chocolate mousse. Order 24 hours in advance and pick up from 5-7 p.m. on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Caffe Gelato in Newark is offering a private dining experience in a glass greenhouse. Photo by Jim Coarse

The newly opened Park Café in Wilmington’s Wawaset Park neighborhood has created a four-course to-go dinner for two. Sophisticated selections include brie-and-pear rangoon with pistachio-pear glaze, spinach-and-pancetta salad, and flounder stuffed with crab imperial, rendered duck breaks or a 12-ounce Delmonico. The price is $125, and orders must be placed by Feb. 10.

At HoneyBee Seasonal Kitchen & Market in Trolley Square, to-go is a specialty. On Friday, Feb. 12, and Saturday, Feb. 13, you can buy two of Chef Lisa Scolaro’s prepared entrees, and you’ll get a special dessert for two for free.

Toscana To Go in Trolley Square is also an old pro when it comes to takeout. This year, the shop—which is adjacent to Piccolina Toscana — has a three-course dinner for two for $130. Customers can choose two options from each category. Entrée offerings include linguine with lobster, a six-ounce filet and lamb chops. For $30 extra, add an Italian sparkling wine, and for $20, order a charcuterie board for two. Order by Feb. 11.

Get in the Spirit

Valentine’s Day gives chefs a license to add some fun elements. For instance, V&M Bistro in North Wilmington will feature heart-shaped ravioli with a vodka blush sauce or shrimp alfredo with linguine that’s infused with sundried tomatoes to make it red.

The third option is a dish that hits the menu only for special occasions. Gemelli (short, spiral pasta) is topped with Genovese sauce, a mix of onions and beef that simmers until merged. All items are carryout only, and this year V&M will be open on a Sunday for the occasion.

Don’t Forget Dessert

You’ll also find some scrumptious to-go confections at V&M, including boozy ice creams from the bistro’s “Barlour” line. For Valentine’s Day, the restaurant will sell red velvet with Bailey’s Irish Cream and CBD-infused cherry vanilla with a touch of bourbon. (Scoop responsibly.)

Other treats include The Lovers, a pack of heart-shaped cocoa bombs, cake-sicles, cocoa-sicles and the Hugs & Kisses combo of sweet treats.

Hot chocolate bombs and similar confections are all the rage, and Gotta Love Gelata, a food truck business that’s moved into bricks-and-mortar digs on Philadelphia Pike, plans to feature mini heart-shaped chocolate bombs that encase gelato and homemade marshmallows. (Don’t be surprised if some have a boozy element.)

The Food Bank’s Delaware Food Works culinary team will be selling chocolate-covered strawberries and four-inch, heart-shaped message sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day. Preorder your treats

Pam George
Pam George has been writing about the Delaware dining scene for more than 15 years. She also writes on travel, health, business and history. In addition to Delaware newspapers and magazines, she’s been published in Men’s Health, Fortune, USA Today and US Airways Magazine. She’s the author of “Shipwrecks of the Delaware Coast: Tales of Pirates, Squalls and Treasure,” “Landmarks & Legacies: Exploring Historic Delaware,” and “First State Plates: Iconic Delaware Restaurants and Recipes.” She lives in Wilmington and Lewes.

    More in:Food & Drink