For romantic Valentine’s Day dinners, New York has an abundance of fine choices. Even better, one restaurant is home to a chef who has not one, but two Michelin stars.
That would be Joseph’s, a family run restaurant located in New York’s Financial District at 3 Hanover Square. Heading the kitchen is Chef Frank Langello, who brings his 20 years of experience along with the Michelin stars. Chef Langello has also earned three stars from the New York Times—and has enjoyed the privilege of preparing state dinners for former president, Barack Obama.
The décor at this sophisticated 140-seat restaurant was recently refreshed by Italian designer Fabio Thaci and now features a fusion of contemporary art, including ceiling tiles hand-painted by the designer himself, and multiple wall frescoes and mural paintings reminiscent of old Europe.
At a recent visit to Joseph’s I tried one of the chef’s specialties, the Lobster Pyramids, luscious little pasta pockets filled with ricotta and lobster and dressed in a light sauce. (All of the restaurant’s pastas are made in house.) The dish was as pleasing to palate as it was to the eye.
The happiest surprise of my meal followed: the Bistecca Griglia with Roasted Potatoes and Aceto Manadori. Not only was the beef beautifully charred, but the flavor had been layered and intensified with the richness of the artisanal balsamic vinegar created by Chef Massimo Bottura of Modena, Italy. The sublime pairing this made the steak one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
I tasted my companion’s dishes as well: the Pappardelle with Funghi Misti and Thyme and the Chicken ‘Alla Cacciatora with Broccoli Rabe. The pasta was beautifully cooked, as were the mushrooms, and the hunter-style chicken was succulent and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Dessert seemed impossible after such a meal, but as Joseph’s has a new executive pastry chef, Rigoberto Avendaño Mendoza, we tried the Panna Cotta with Spiced Poached Pears and Almond Biscotti—which turned out to be sublimely light and delicate. A perfect ending to a delightful meal.
For Valentine’s Day, the restaurant offers a special five-course tasting menu, priced very well at just $79.
For romance with an Asian flair, a perfect choice is Sushi Seki, located on New York’s historic Restaurant Row in the heart of Times Square. Here, Chef Seki Shi takes diners on a fanciful culinary journey that dazzles the eye and romances the palate. Accompanied by a sophisticated sake pairing, it makes for a heartwarming Valentine’s meal.
On Valentine’s Day, the chef offers a very special Omakase menu that starts at $188 (depending on seating time) and includes a gorgeous selection of fish prepared with extraordinary delicacy and artistry, a selection of sushi and crowned with a romantic chocolate fondant with seasonal sorbet.
In advance of Valentine’s Day, I tasted the chef’s regular Omakase menu accompanied by a sophisticated selection of sakes. The first was a champagne-like sake that set the tone for what proved to be a meal that was as festive as it was pleasing–especially a perfect morsel of tender shrimp.
The meal moved on, from delicious to delightful, including a rich and tender bit of tuna and an especially enjoyable nibble of roasted filet mignon. As my sake education progressed, I savored a warm version, learning that even certain fine sake can be served warm—and finished with a blend of two that resulted in a kind of “chocolate martini” taste. This, I was told could accompany American-style barbecue as well as Japanese food! Who knew?
Dessert, of course, was very pretty, starring a green tea crème brulee and a fruit sorbet, emphasizing the fact that Chef Seki Chi, is both a master and an artist.
For lovers who just want to cuddle up at home and still savor a delicious Valentine’s Day meal, celebrity Chef David Burke offers recipes perfect for a romantic dinner.
Start with Chef Burke’s Classic Rack of Lamb with bouquet of vegetables for dinner and follow it with his decadent Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert. With these dishes, Valentines can taste celebrity chef cooking, without leaving the house!
Classic Rack of Lamb with Bouquet of Vegetables
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
1 12-ounce baby lamb rack, Frenched
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ Cup Clarified Butter
2 cups diced potatoes
1 tablespoon fines herbes (equal parts chopped chervil, parsley, chives, and tarragon)
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup minced shallots
12 pearl unions, peeled and blanched
3 carrots, cut into small sticks and blanched
2 Japanese eggplants, trimmed, cut into small sticks, and blanched
2 zucchini, trimmed, seeds removed, and cut into small sticks
2 yellow squash, trimmed, seeds removed, and cut into small sticks
2 red bell peppers, trimmed, seeded, membrane removed, and cut into small sticks
¼ cup chicken stock or broth
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Place ¼ cup of the oil in each of two large ovenproof saute pans over high heat. Bring the oil up to the smoke point. Season the lamb rack with salt and pepper and immediately put them skin side down, into the hot pans. Lower the heat to medium and sear the meat for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer it to the preheated oven and roast for 8 minutes. Turn the lamb and continue to roast it for an additional 6 minutes, or until an instant-red thermometer inserted into the center of the meat reads 140 degrees. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
While lamb is roasting, prepare the vegetables.
Place the clarified butter in a large saute pan over high heat. When the butter just begins to smoke, add the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and saute the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender and golden brown. Add the fines herbs and toss the coat.
Melt the softened better in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute them for about 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the pearl onions, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 4 minutes, or until vegetable are just cooked. Remove them from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carve the lamb into chops or medallions and place them on a serving platter. Please the vegetables and potatoes in separate serving bowls and serve along with the lamb.
Molten Chocolate Cake
Makes six 4-inch cakes
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup almond flour
2 cups whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Lightly coat six 4-inch-round X 2-inch-high molds with nonstick vegetable spray.
Combine the chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl set over a pan of boiling water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Heat, stirring constantly, just until the chocolate and butter has melted. Remove the mixture from the heat, but keep warm.
Place the eggs and egg yolks in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Begin beating the eggs and, with the motor running, add the sugar in thirds, beating to incorporate well between each addition. Continue beating on high for about 7 minutes, or until the mixture has doubled in size and is a soft pale yellow. Lower the speed of the mixture and add the almond flower in thirds. Slowly beat the reserved melted chocolate-butter mixture into the batter, beating for 1 minute. Fill the prepared molds with the batter. Place them in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the top is just set with a slight crater in the center. Remove from the oven and quickly invert onto six dessert plates. Serve with whipped cream on top, if desired.