It's that time again: Flutes of Champagne, flickering candles, and prix-fixe menus, maybe set against a soundtrack of Sade or Sinatra. While Valentine's Day dining rituals certainly have their place, this year you and your sweetie might be craving an adventure. If you are in the mood for something new, here are our critics' top picks for revving up the romance this Valentine's Day.
Il Giardino Restaurant by John Gambino
Il Giardino Restaurant by John Gambino (739 Main Rd., Aquebogue): This charming country house earned a two-star rating. The building dates to 1830. It's in the former site of Petulant Wino and Comtesse Therese Bistro, and includes two cozy dining rooms. The kitchen emphasizes southern Italian and Italian-American favorites with care and flair. More info: 631-779-3900, ilgiardinoaquebogue.com
North Fork paccheri with zucchini, arugula and goat cheese is served at Il Giardino Restaurant by John Gambino in Aquebogue.
Red Salt Room
Red Salt Room (45 Seventh St., Garden City): David Burke's high-end steakhouse is tucked inside the landmark Garden City Hotel, turning out dry-aged porterhouses, rib-eyes and strips that are the equal of any on Long Island. Also on the menu are other Burke specialties including clothesline bacon and angry lobster with lemon, chilies, and basil. More info: 516-877-9385, gardencityhotel.com
Candied bacon on a clothesline is served at Red Salt Room in Garden City.
Coral (215 Atlantic Ave., East Moriches): Coral grows in a hideaway setting at the aptly named Windswept Marina, which complements the vibrant cuisine with pretty sunsets and a view to match them. It's a destination for tapas and paella. And you'll feel as if you've narrowed the distance between Suffolk and Spain. More info: 631-703-3479, coraltapas.com
Chicken-chorizo croquettes are served at Coral in East Moriches.
2 Spring (2 Spring St., Oyster Bay): A recent high-octane addition to Oyster Bay's booming dining scene is also its sexiest. The two-story space is decked out in style with bold woods, brick and creative chandeliers. The kitchen is manned by Iron Chef champion Jesse Schenker, who has conceived an of-the-moment bistro menu that includes dishes like a fisherman's pot, codfish fritters with lamb ragu, chicken pot pie with chorizo, and vanilla panna cotta with puffed quinoa and grapefruit coulis. With 46 seats and a lot of buzz, you'll need to grab a reservation quickly, but don't discount the bar or lunch as sensuous options. More info: 516-624-2411, 2springstreet.com
The Clover Club, a cocktail made with gin, egg whites, raspberry puree and lemon, is served with the special Valentine's day menu on offer at 2 Spring in Oyster Bay.
1221 at MFP
1221 at MFP (1221 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn): This modern American restaurant located in the Roslyn Hotel will be offering a four-course $70 prix fixe menu in addition to its regular a la carte menu on Valentine's Day. First course includes choice of tuna crudo with avocado mousse, beet salad with pomegranate and ricotta salata, charred octopus with Peruvian peppers, and more. There will be a second course of butternut squash ravioli. Braised beef short rib with Parmesan polenta, filet mignon Wellington, and pan-seared salmon with cream of leeks are among the mains. Desserts such as roasted figs with fig gelato and caramel sauce, molten chocolate cake, and beignets with black and white dipping sauces, are designed for romance. More info: 516-583-0050, 1221li.com
Yellowfin tuna crudo as served at 1221 at MFP in Roslyn.
Aperitif Bistro Lounge Wine Bar
Aperitif Bistro Lounge Wine Bar (240-242 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre) is offering a la carte specials in addition to their regular menu on Valentine's Day. Among the most romantic choices: escargot, seafood towers small and large, lobster risotto, and duck a l'orange. More info: 516-594-3404, aperitifbistro.com
Steak frites is served at Aperitif Bistro Lounge Wine Bar in Rockville Centre.
Lulu Kitchen & Bar
Lulu Kitchen & Bar (126 Main St., Sag Harbor): This charming string of dining rooms has an Art Deco feel and a wood-burning fire at its heart, where chef Philippe Corbet grills octopus, branzino, steaks and pizza. Local oysters, flutes of sparkling wine and sultry lighting add to the sexy vibe. More info: 631-725-0900, lulusagharbor.com
Chocolate caramel molten cake is served with chocolate dirt and salted caramel ice cream at Lulu Kitchen & Bar in Sag Harbor.
Vienna of Roslyn
Vienna of Roslyn (1 Railroad Ave., Roslyn): From a stone-lined tavern downstairs to a flickering gas fire upstairs, this bilevel lounge and event space has atmosphere in spades -- plus small plates from chef Frank Falgiano, such as grilled lamb rib chops and silky Mediterranean dips, that impress without being too fussy. More info: 516-621-7975, viennaofroslyn.com
Peppery lamb chop "lollipops" come with asparagus and new potatoes at Vienna of Roslyn.
One North Mediterranean Soul
One North Mediterranean Soul (4 Old Jericho Tpke., Jericho): One North takes dramatic dining to new levels, from its theatrically lit facade and soaring interior to sumptuous seafood dishes -- with plentiful grilled fish -- delivered tableside atop rolling carts. There's nothing quite like it on Long Island, so don't be surprised if you see a suitor get down on one knee. More info: 516-605-1400, onenorthrestaurant.com
Kataifi pastry topped with whipped Greek yogurt, fresh berries, candied almond brittle and wildflower honey at One North Mediterranean Soul in Jericho.
Lost at Sea
Lost at Sea (888 W. Beech St., Long Beach): Tucked along a booming stretch of West Long Beach, this subdued new restaurant has a dim-lit setting, a speakeasy-like vibe and a well-versed staff. Valentine's or not, the owners plan to stick to their no reservations policy. Don't let it dissuade you. Grab one of the 46 seats and dig into the seafood-heavy shared plates menu with a rotating list of oysters, perfectly bronzed scallops and a lovely dry-aged steak frites for the seafood averse. Don't brush off the cocktail menu. More info: 516-632-5263
Cod arrives topped with breadcrumbs, seated in a lemon sauce at Lost at Sea in Long Beach.
Cove Hollow Tavern
Cove Hollow Tavern (85 Montauk Hwy., East Hampton): This stylish new restaurant resides in a 19th-century barn, and is full of nooks and crannies for a languorous meal with your sweetie. Cove Hollow is run by a couple, to boot: Chef Terry Harwood cooks savory (escargot-topped pasta and grilled steaks) and Lisa Murphy Harwood prepares sweets, and the bar's cocktails and wine list are on point. More info: 631-527-7131, covehollowtavern.com
Local peach gazpacho is served at Cove Hollow Tavern in East Hampton.
Gatsby's Landing (1362 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn): If you, like Jay Gatsby, are pulling out all stops for your one true love, make a reservation at Glenn and Danai Falcone's Gatsby's Landing. The cozy, intimate dining room, painted royal blue and shimmering with help from a few elegant chandeliers, is full of North Shore glamour. The restaurant, which tips its hat to the legendary F. Scott Fitzgerald masterpiece, offers indulgent and romantic dishes including oysters on the half shell, a porterhouse for two, and molten chocolate cake. More info: 516-277-2318, gatsbyslanding.com
Burrata with black plum compote, mint and ale bread crostini at Gatsby's Landing in Roslyn.
Autentico (124 South St., Oyster Bay): If a romantic trip to Italy isn't in the cards this Valentine's Day, book a table at Autentico. Each table at Oyster Bay's singular Italian restaurant is named for a region of Italy -- and is identified with a framed, calligraphed place card. The decor mixes whimsy with warmth. The menu, from Sicilian-born chef Francesco Pecoraro, ranges all over the boot and changes weekly but always features an impressive platter of cheeses and cured meats with mostarda di Cremona. Also recommended (if available): panelle, or chickpea fritters, with scrambled egg and Grana Padano cheese; anellini pasta baked with eggplant, sausage and Gorgonzola; spaghetti with tuna sauce and capers. More info: 516-922-2212, autenticooysterbay.com
Stracchino cheese mousse is one of the desserts served at Autentico in Oyster Bay.
Tavern 227 (227 Sea Cliff Ave., Sea Cliff): Every detail of this Sea Cliff jewel is camera-ready for romance, from the pressed-tin ceiling to the weathered brick walls to the wood floors. Soft, flattering light emanates from antique chandeliers, wall sconces, votive candles and backlit bottles of liquor shelved behind the marble bar that dominates the room. The palette is warm -- the brightest color is the soft burgundy of the upholstered banquettes, and the jazz soundtrack is cool. A place this pretty could get by on looks alone, but Tavern 227 goes many extra miles, with an appealing menu that splits the difference between pub and trattoria. Highlights include the wagyu beef meatballs, a fine burger, and spaghetti cacio e pepe. More info: 516-200-9179, tavern227.com
Gnocchi with pomodoro sauce is served at Tavern 227 in Sea Cliff.
North Fork Table and Inn
North Fork Table and Inn (57225 Main Rd., Southold): Long Island's groundbreaking farm-to-table restaurant is also one of its most romantic. Set among the farms and vineyards of the North Fork, the restaurant epitomizes rustic elegance. The menu draws on luxurious ingredients from near (Oyster Ponds oysters) and far (Perigord truffles) . A six-course ($150) tasting menu is available as well as an a la carte selection. Seal the deal with one of Claudia Fleming's justly famous desserts. More info: 631-765-0177, northforktableandinn.com
Crudo of black sea bass is served with crisp ginger, ruby grapefruit and cilantro at The North Fork Table and Inn in Southold.
Scarpetta Beach (290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk): Situated in Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, this spot offers contemporary and traditional Italian food with an ocean view. More info: 631-668-1771, gurneysmontauk.com
Tagliatelle with lobster is served at Scarpetta Beach in Montauk.
Almond (1 Ocean Rd., Bridgehampton): French and New American cooking come together with flair at Almond. More info: 631-537-5665, almondrestaurant.com
Shaved Baby Artichoke Salad is served at Almond in Bridgehampton.
La Tavola (183 W. Main St., Sayville): This warm, country trattoria offers full-flavored, affordably priced food. For Valentine's Day, La Tavola will be offering a special Valentine's Day menu. Order one of the entrée specials (prices vary) and your appetizer and dessert (also from the special menu) will be included at no extra charge. More info: 631-750-6900, latavolasayville.com
Fried calamari is served with a spicy marinara and a lemon-horseradish remoulade at La Tavola in Sayville.
Sandbar (55 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor): Guy Reuge, who established Mirabelle first in St. James and then in Stony Brook, is executive chef at this seafood-centric restaurant. The menu offers American favorites and more in a setting buoyant with local history and artwork. For Valentine's Day, there will be a 3-course $75 menu. Starters might include chickpea fries with sriracha aioli, duck tacos with daikon and jalapenos, and pan-roasted foie gras with salsify puree. Among the mains are pan-roasted sea scallops with carrot-ginger puree, steelhead trout with smashed purple potatoes and lobster sauce, and chicken pot pie with a puff pastry crust. Ginger almond tart and rum baba are highlights of the dessert list. More info: 631-498-6188, lessings.com
Seared Scallops with butternut squash risotto, pepitas and sage is served at Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor.
Copperhill (234 Hillside Ave., Williston Park): You'll find New American cuisine at this Williston Park spot. More info: 516-746-1243, copperhillny.com
Hudson Valley duck breast with beets, turnips and orange is typical of the creative, New American dishes served at Copperhill in Williston Park.
Orto (90 North Country Rd., Miller Place): This eatery offers rustic Italian cooking. More info: 631-473-0014, restaurantorto.com
Pork with sunchokes, onions and bacon jus is served at Orto in Miller Place.
La Plage (131 Creek Rd., Wading River): This eatery, across from the beach, is a very good choice for New American and continental dishes. More info: 631-744-9200, laplagewadingriver.com
Strawberry-rhubarb bread pudding, topped with buttermilk ice cream, is a seasonal treat at La Plage in Wading River.
Stone Creek Inn
Stone Creek Inn (405 Montauk Hwy., East Quogue): Since 1996, the Stone Creek Inn has been a handsome and reliable destination for New American and Mediterranean fare. More info: 631-653-6770, stonecreekinn.com
Butter Poached Lobster with mushrooms, summer squash, fingerling potatoes, roasted tomatoes and coconut lime ginger broth is served at Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue.
View (3 Consuelo Pl., Oakdale): This seafood eatery offers sweeping nautical views of the Great South Bay from indoors. For Valentine's Day, there will be a special a la carte menu. Highlights include appetizers like crispy Thai calamari, lobster bisque with claw meat and sherry cream, and Little Neck clams with fresh horseradish. Entrees feature a lot of seafood, like roasted swordfish with shrimp-saffron risotto, grilled tuna with forbidden rice, cioppino, and garganellie with lobster, corn, and bacon. More info: 631-589-2694, lessings.com
Pan seared local diver scallops are served at View in Oakdale.
Kyma (1446 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn): This spot offers an airy, pretty setting. Whole grilled fish and shellfish are among the specialties. More info: 516-621-3700, kymarestaurants.com
The Lavraki, or whole branzini, is a specialty at Kyma in Roslyn.
18 Bay (23 N. Ferry Rd., Shelter Island): This eatery features Italian-inspired cuisine. More info: 631-749-0053, 18bayrestaurant.com
Sauteed Montauk striped bass is served with wax beans, snap peas and corn vinaigrette at 18 Bay on Shelter Island.
The 1770 House
1770 House (143 Main St., East Hampton): What started as a home is now a landmark. The seamless service and sensibility behind The 1770 House is what separates it from so many high-end Hamptons restaurants. Dishes are carefully selected and almost everything served here is sumptuous -- any meal will be a winner. More info: 631-324-1770, 1770house.com
Tres leches cake is served at The 1770 House in East Hampton.
George Martin’s Strip Steak
George Martin's Strip Steak (60 River Rd., Great River): This handsome spot, with polished wood and a blazing fireplace, beefs up dining out at the end of the Southern State Parkway and the edge of Heckscher State Park. More info: 631-650-6777, georgemartingroup.com
A Berkshire pork chop is served at George Martin's Strip Steak in Great River.
Maroni Cuisine (18 Woodbine Ave., Northport): This spot typically offers a tasting menu of 20-plus courses, which unfold in the compact space like a series of special effects. More info: 631-757-4500, maronicuisine.com
Shell pasta with smoky pork ragu is served at Maroni Cuisine in Northport.
Le Soir (825 Montauk Hwy., Bayport): Le Soir has long evoked Old France and sometimes New American. More info: 631-472-9090, lesoirbayport.com
Roast duck with orange sauce is a mainstay on the menu at Le Soir in Bayport.
The Lake House
The Lake House (135 Maple Ave., Bay Shore): In a spacious waterfront location overlooking the Great South Bay, the Lake House offers excellent, seasonal New American cuisine. More info: 631-666-0995, thelakehouserest.com
Caramelized local sea scallops pair with fava beans, fingerling potatoes, prosciutto and a spring pea-mint sauce at The Lake House in Bay Shore.
Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas
Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas (1002 Old Country Rd., Garden City): This dining spot offers small plates and interesting wine selections. Special menu available Feb. 7-27. More info: 516-228-5400, spuntinowinebar.com
Seared diver scallops, with butter braised leeks and black truffle zest are on the menu for Valentine's Day at Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas in Garden City.
The Butcher's Bar & Grill
The Butcher's Bar & Grill (75A Hillside Ave., Williston Park): This eatery comfortably fills a niche for seafood as well as steaks, friendly service and modern style. More info: 516-213-0019, tbbgny.com
Arahova feta sparks the excellent Greek salad served at The Butcher's Bar & Grill in Williston Park.
Maxwell's (501 Main St., Islip): This saloon-style restaurant with comfy booths, part of the Lessings Restaurant Group, is offering a $65-per-couple prix fixe in addition to its regular menu items. Among the appetizer choices: Burrata with figs and prosciutto, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and Maryland crab cakes. The main course is a surf-n-turf for two, including two 8-ounce filet mignons and crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp. Dessert, a sweetheart brownie for two, is also shared. "Sweetheart drinks" including Burning Love (Tequila, POM liqueur, lemon and lime juice) will be on offer as well, for $12. You'll also find the same prix fixe menu at sister restaurants The Post Office Café and The Library Café. More info: 631-210-0011, lessings.com
Topping Rose House
Topping Rose House (1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpke., Bridgehampton): Turn a dinner reservation at Topping Rose House into a day trip to the scenic Bridgehampton property for Valentine's Day. Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten once again is offering a three-course fixed-price menu at $98. More info: 631-537-0870, toppingrosehouse.com/restaurant
La Coquille (1669 Northern Blvd., Manhasset): For considerably less than the cost of airfare, La Coquille in Manhasset will transport you and a date to Paris for the evening. The Valentine's Day prix fixe menu, for $98, will get you plenty of classic French fare. Baked escargot and French onion soup are among the appetizers. Main courses include filet of sole in puff pastry, escalopes of veal with pearl onions and chestnuts, and a center-cut ribeye au poivre. Luxurious desserts like floating island, a classic Napoleon, and mousse au chocolat complete the menu. Reservations are being taken and tables are filling up. More info: 516-365-8422, lacoquilleny.com
Mirabelle Restaurant and Mirabelle Tavern (150 Main St., Stonybrook): A special $69 prix fixe menu will be served in both the restaurant and tavern that are part of this historic inn complex. Lobster and leek bisque, pan-roasted foie gras, and cream of celery root are among the starters. Mains include curry loin of lamb with almond-basmati rice, spaghetti fra diavolo, and pan-seared beef filet with spinach. Raspberry mousse cake and chocolate lava cake top the list of romantic desserts. More info: 631-755-0555, lessings.com
Jonathan's Ristorante (15 Wall St., Huntington): You can celebrate the evening at this polished Italian spot with Valentine's Day specials including homemade scialatielli with prawns, beans, and chard, filet mignon with truffle sauce, and chocolate-covered strawberries. There is also a wine special--a 2012 Mauro Molino Barolo--for $75. More info: 631-549-0055, jonathansristorante.com
Tres Palms (16 East Ct., Babylon): This seafood eatery looks onto Great South Bay. More info: 631-482-1465, trespalms.com
The Palm Court
The Palm Court (Eisenhower Park, East Meadow): This upscale restaurant within Eisenhower Park serves contemporary American food. For Valentine's Day, there will be 4-course, $95 prix fixe. Starters include grilled oysters with horseradish cream, salads include one with arugula, grilled butternut squash, and sherry shallot vinaigrette. For a main course, you might have a classic surf-and-turf featuring grilled filet mignon and lobster. Dessert is a Sweetheart Chocolate Delight. More info: 516-542-0700, thecarltun.com