Whether you’re a lover or a fighter of all things Valentine’s Day, savvy Connecticut restaurateurs are pulling out all the stops this year for February 14th.
For some, the hallmark holiday inspires a carefully-crafted plan of action, multi-course tasting menus, candy hearts and long-stemmed roses, others may find themselves pining for a wild romp at their favorite haunt. From high-end white table cloths to thrifty romance, here is a cupid-approved list of our favorite Connecticut restaurants to visit for Valentine’s Day.
With Instagram worthy heart-shaped floral installations, smokey-sweet cocktails adorned with rose ice cubes and vibrant Peruvian cooking, Coracora is a knockout for those looking to have a fun-filled Valentine’s Day. Expect electric menu items like ceviche with leche de tigre, savory house-made empanadas with chicken or lomo and frothy pisco sours garnished with heart-shaped bitters.
Coracora was Connecticut’s only restaurant recognized by the James Beard Awards this year in the Outstanding Restaurant category, trailing a long line of nods from the JBF, including nominations for Outstanding Restaurant and Best Chef Northeast. In 2023, it was awarded Best Restaurant by the Connecticut Restaurant Association in 2023
For those looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home, Coracora also offers dinner to go from their drive-through window.
À la carte menu, Valentine’s wine and food specials
If French food is for the romantics, then Italian food is for lovers.
Nestled in one of Connecticut’s coziest colonial towns, Grano Arso is known for their house-made pastas, milled with native New England grain. You’ll find yourself sinking into their crushed velvet chairs and happily enjoying the buzzy glow of the dining room while noshing on bucatini with black truffle butter, duck confit with rye berry ribollita and chocolate torta with hazelnut ganache.
The last word in Connecticut for farm to table charm, Ore Hill is an intimate tasting-menu-focused restaurant worth making the trip to Kent for on Valentine’s Day.
Working closely with the idyllic Rock Cobble Farm in South Kent, Chef Ryan Connolly has access to produce, heritage beef and dairy that most chefs would swap their knives for, especially in the late winter. The farm’s greenhouses also provide Ore Hill with an almost Wonka-like array of locally-grown citrus this time of year, including Meyer lemons, yuzu, finger limes and grapefruit.
Given that well-regarded Chef Tyler Anderson serves as its culinary director, it’s quite possible that there is no bigger hero reservation than snagging a table at Ore Hill. From thoughtful wine selections, to the fireplace-warmed 30-seat dining room, Ore Hill is sure to impress lovebirds looking for the ultimate Valentine’s Day experience.
A recent newcomer to the Connecticut restaurant scene, 29 Markle has been turning heads in the best way since opening in Nov. 2022.
Norwalk native Chef Damon Sawyer’s cuisine draws heavily from life experience, from a love of music and jazz, to regional flavors from coastal Connecticut like lobster and oysters, and hints of Sawyer’s southern roots in dishes like Manmita’s black rice and crab balls with Old Bay crème.
For those with a sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with Damon’s chocolate cake with raspberry gelato.
$85pp 3-course menu includes a complimentary cocktail, mocktail or glass of wine.
A hidden gem in a repurposed 1880s velvet factory, Whitecrest Eatery is a come-as-you-are establishment with a factory-chic vibe found more in places like New York’s Chelsea Market. For five weeks a year, chef and owner Johan Jensen, and wife Abbey Hemmann, play host to a wildly successful Wanderlust Series — a changing menu that focuses weekly on the cuisine of a particular country or region, available as a 3-course prix fixe or à la carte. This year Jensen and Hemmann are ending the series on a high note with Naples, Italy, available from February 14th-18th.
The menu will feature Italian classics including fritto misto, pork chop Milanese and tiramisu — a remarkable value.
$48pp or à la carte