Valentine's Day is a high-risk, high-reward proposition in a restaurant: If things go wrong, love can falter, but a successful dinner creates oceans of goodwill. So diners should choose carefully from among the many special menus that are being offered in New York City establishments on Feb. 14; some of the most reliable options are below.
ARLINGTON CLUB Just opened to glowing reviews, this Upper East Side establishment focuses on steak. So for the three-course, $90 special menu, the Parmesan-crusted filet mignon and "beef duo" (wagyu steak and short ribs) are probably the best bets. You'll find your eyes drifting from your sweetie to the attractive two-level dining room, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling; the bar scene downstairs is already a bustling neighborhood staple.
WHERE 1032 Lexington Ave.
INFO 212-249-5700, arlingtonclubny.com
ALDEA Portuguese-born chef George Mendes has been creating fireworks in the kitchen here, and the super-sleek dining room feels like Zurich or London. For V-Day, diners can enjoy a three-course prix-fixe ($85) or six-course chef's tasting menu of his modern Iberian food ($110). Couples can canoodle in booths or sit ringside at the chef's counter to watch the staff craft the meal.
WHERE 31 W. 17 St.
INFO 212-675-7223, aldearestaurant.com
RESTAURANT MARC FORGIONE No one can accuse this TriBeCa restaurant of half-measures -- the special seven-course Aphrodisiac Tasting Menu ($125) covers all the bases. Uni is included in the Spanish mullet recipe for its ability to stimulate dopamine in the brain; pomegranate garnishes the foie gras ravioli soup because it was considered the culinary symbol of Aphrodite, goddess of love. If this dinner doesn't light a spark, nothing will.
WHERE 134 Reade St.
INFO 212-941-9401, marcforgione.com
ISA This creative Williamsburg restaurant is extending Valentine's Day by a couple of nights. On the 12th, it's a $40 dinner-and-a-movie night, with a screening of "Wild at Heart" at 8 p.m. On the 13th, it's free slow-jams dance with a DJ starting at 9:30 p.m. And for the holiday itself, some special menu items are on offer at dinner, including a whole fish for two, $40.
WHERE 348 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn
INFO 347-689-3594, isa.gg
PORK SLOPE Singles deserve to have fun on this holiday, and sometimes gathering a bunch of them in a room leads Cupid's arrow to fly. This uber-popular Park Slope bar has a simple recipe for the night: no cover plus a DJ. Ladies get their first drink free. The regular menu items, such as a $7 Porky Melt, are on offer, as is the aptly named beer-and-shot special, The Slippery Slope.
WHERE 247 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn
INFO 718-768-7675, porkslopebrooklyn.com