Even a pandemic can’t dim Valentine’s Day, an annual tradition characterized by red and pink hearts, sappy cards, flowers and, if you’re lucky, jewelry.
And no Feb. 14 is complete without food — preferably packed with calories and served with bubbly and chocolate.
Despite restrictions, restaurants are pulling out the stops and there’s good news there: As of Feb. 12, Delaware restaurants can now seat up to 50% of their fire capacity.
However, since tables must be 6 feet apart, smaller restaurants are still limited, which means seats on Valentine’s Day will be in high demand.
If you can’t get a reservation, you can still savor a romantic meal. Takeout is now standard at many restaurants, despite the price point.
Here are some examples of what local eateries will offer.
Valentines & Vino
Six of SoDel Concepts’ 12 restaurants are participating in a virtual wine dinner on Valentine’s Day.
The hospitality company has held a running virtual wine series since the pandemic started, and this event showcases Scarpetta, which specializes in Italian wines.
The main course is Osso Bucco with truffle-and-aged cheddar Anson Mill grits. An Italian cream layer cake with chocolate-hazelnut fudge will provide the finishing touch.
Guests can pick up their four-course takeout between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 and then stream the presentation at 6 p.m.
The cost is $125 per couple and $65 for one person. Each meal will include a choice of two bottles from the five available wines. Visit sodelconcepts.com/events to see the list of participating restaurants.
In Newark, Home Grown Café’s Valentine’s Day guests will receive a sparkling cocktail made with prosecco, pomegranate seeds and a float of raspberry sorbet.
A $60 prix fixe menu for two includes a choice of appetizers, entrees and dessert (death by chocolate cheesecake or strawberry mousse with dark chocolate shavings). You can indulge on Feb. 13 or 14.
At nearby Caffe Gelato, also in Newark, a seven-course dinner with wine, champagne, a red rose and tealights is priced at $69 per person. Ante up another $29 for a dozen red roses. Call 302-533-0201.
Celebrating on Sunday
Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, some restaurants will open their doors on what is usually an off night. Bardea Food and Drink in Wilmington is one of them.
The restaurant is selling a six-course takeout meal for two lists a 20-ounce aged New York strip au poivre. The price is $125 a meal, and you can pick it up between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday. Call 302-426-2069.
Like Bardea, V&M Bistro in North Wilmington is usually closed on Sundays. However, this year the Italian restaurant has created some specials for Valentine’s Day takeout. (The bistro is not open for dine-in service.)
Choices include heart-shaped ravioli in vodka blush sauce and shrimp alfredo in veal Genovese sauce. Boozy ice cream desserts include Bailey’s Red Velvet. Call 302-479-7999.
On Sundays, Columbus Inn typically keeps daytime hours only for brunch. On Feb. 14, it will extend its hours to 4 p.m. for those who want to pick up Valentine’s Day takeout.
The five-course menu, which you can also pick up on Saturday, includes a petite filet roast for two and a double-cut chocolate cake. The cost is $125. Call 302-571-1492 to order.
Don’t forget to add the inn’s specially mixed batched cocktails, such as the Blushing Lady. The pretty-in-pink cocktail contains pomegranate vodka, Cointreau, grapefruit and lemon.
On Feb. 14, the Stone Balloon in Newark is only open to guests who make reservations for the three-course Valentine’s Day dinner.
There are three options for the appetizer and dessert, and four choices for the entrée, including a petite 4-ounce filet mignon with chianti-mushroom demiglace.
The cost is $50 or $65 with a bottle of wine. Call 266-8111.
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler, Cupid
This year, Mardi Gras is Feb. 16. So Hearth Kitchen in Kennett Square has crafted a takeout-for-two menu with a New Orleans theme.
Consider crab hush puppies, gumbo, chicory salad and crawfish remoulade. The price is $70. Call 484-732-8320.
Down on the Farm
The SIW farm stand is in on the heart-throbbing action this year.
Chefs Gerald and Natalie will whip up a $69 dinner for two with cream of cauliflower soup, jumbo lump crab cakes with potatoes and green beans and double chocolate cake with berries. (Note that pickup is on Saturday, Feb. 13, between 2 and 4 p.m.) Email orders to email@example.com.
A Weekend of Love
Like many restaurants, Le Cavalier at the Hotel du Pont will start Valentine’s Day festivities early. A special prix fixe dinner is available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The $65 per person meal includes a choice of “Le Snacks,” such as lobster Louie and shrimp cocktails with harissa cocktail sauce, a selection of entrees — including duck a l’orange and scallops with a blood orange sabayon — and either white chocolate mousse with mango and toasted coconut or chocolate souffle with raspberry amaro preserves.
The restaurant’s takeout division, Maison x Le Cav, has a menu priced at $125 for two. Entrees are either prime bavette steak au poivre or cauliflower steak au poivre. Order 24 hours in advance and pick up is Friday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Call 594-3154.
Iron Hill heart-shaped pizza kits