By Tess Berger
It’s inevitable: Valentine’s Day is coming. Some are anticipating a day filled with romance, affection and generous gifts from a significant other; the rest of us are single. Either way, it’s a way to celebrate relationships with loved ones, and more importantly, an excuse to treat yourself to a delicious meal. So whether you’re kicking back with your singles squad, or cozying up with your sweetheart, we’ve got a restaurant for you. Here are the top V-Day spots to check out in Syracuse.
With a Significant Other
The moment you step foot into Francesca’s, you are transported to a charmingly authentic Italian ristorante — well North Salina Street if we’re being frank. With a vast selection of pasta dishes, you can finally get that Lady and the Tramp moment you’ve always wanted. While spaghetti and meatballs are always an option, Francesca’s also serves hearty entrée dinners and local Syracuse favorites, like Utica greens and chicken riggies. I highly recommend the lobster ravioli, served in a pink vodka sauce. Order a few glasses of red wine while you’re at it, and top it all off with one of their homemade desserts. Does it get any more romantic than that?
Aster Pantry & Parlor
Remember when our beloved Small Plates closed, promising to reopen with a new ‘culinary focus’ on the flavors and ingredients of Central New York? Well, let me introduce you to Aster Pantry & Parlor. Both the food and decor “bring the country to the city,” with a seasonal menu that offers a sophisticated flair on farm-to-table cuisine. Rural and urban style come together to create that perfect Valentine’s Day ambiance — upscale, but not too fancy. This Sunday, start off with the Aster Nitro Ale, brewed right here in Syracuse. Taste an appetizer or two, like the roasted beets & fennel salad or the main course, go for the Asian-inspired pork chop, smothered in hoisin barbecue sauce. Finish it off with one of their delicious desserts, like the coffee-infused affogato. Afterwards, you’ll be asking yourself: “What do I love more? My boyfriend or this meal?”
With Your Friends
Laci’s Tapas Bar
What’s better than sharing in the sorrows of your singleness? Sharing a bunch of tapas, duh. For those of you who are unfamiliar with tapas, they’re basically a bunch of appetizers that you’re supposed to eat family style. So, they’re perfect for a Valentine’s feast. Tapas originated in Spain under King Alfonso X, and according to a popular legend, the king recovered from illness by drinking wine with small snacks throughout the day. After healing, he commanded that all taverns serve small dishes with wine, and the tapa was created. Thank you, Alfonso. In your memory, my single friends and I will devour a few too many of Laci’s tapas, including the Spanish sliders and famous mac ’n’ cheese eggrolls, and we’ll wash it all down with sparkling rubies — a champagne cocktail made with pomegranate juice — because the best way to celebrate being single is with some bubbly.
Are you as sick of low-quality delivery sushi as I am? Good, because now you have the perfect excuse to dive into Ocean Sushi, chopsticks in hand. A fun sushi dinner with friends gives you the perfect opportunity to try some rolls that you never would’ve thought you’d like. Warm up with some hot sake, order one or two rolls per person, and go to town. The one roll you need to get your hands on is the Firecracker Roll — it’s cooked at the table, and stuffed with shrimp tempura, spicy crab, cucumber, cream cheese, tobiko and onions. Think of the meal as a valentine exchange, but with sushi. Aka, your best Valentine’s Day ever.