Nearby Restaurants To Impress Your Valentine

Although cliché, dinner for two is one of the most valuable Val­entine’s Day traditions instilled in our culture. With the holiday coming up right around the corner, these romantic restaurants in our college town area will make for a memorable meal this season.

Long Branch is a great place to start. While it is obviously the most convenient town in regards to travel for MU students, some of the best places are located in your backyard. Long Branch offers a number of different dining styles. If you and your date are looking for a romantic location with a great view, McCloone’s Pier House lo­cated in Pier Village would be a great start.

Student Government Associa­tion President, Oscar Sanchez Jr., adores the hot spot Pier House. “McCloone’s is a great date spot. Besides the amazing seafood they offer, you can enjoy the beautiful ocean view. That, combined with the dim lighting, can really create a romantic evening for a couple.”

Although a little pricey for col­lege students on a budget, junior Kristen Harz says, “The food is worth the price. It is very deli­cious.”

An advantage of McCloone’s is it’s proximity to the beach. After dinner, you and your significant other can talk a nice walk on the beach.

If you are looking to stay in Pier Village, Sawa Steakhouse and Sushi Bar provides a unique set­ting. Sanchez suggests this restau­rant for a group date rather than a couple date. “You get dinner and a show with the hibachi cooking so it’s a lot of fun for everyone,” San­chez said. Sawa also has another restaurant located next to Best Buy on Route 36.

Another great find which many often skip over is Tre Amici. This restaurant is closer to campus than Pier Village and is also located on Ocean Avenue and is not too ex­pensive.

Sophomore food enthusiast Lau­rel Weber believes this restaurant is one of the best attributes of Long Branch, “The food was really, re­ally good. It’s cool to know that the man cooking for you was on Food Network,” Weber said. “That might not be as neat to other peo­ple, but to me it was pretty great.”

Matthew Zappoli, chef and owner of Tre Amici, won Food Network’s Chopped competition. Zappoli has also been named one of the “Five Chefs to Watch” by Bon Appétit magazine.

Other popular restaurants in the Long Branch area which are wor­thy of a look include The Avenue, Sirena, Rooney’s Oceanfront, and Charley’s Ocean Grill.

For a classy Valentine treat, take a short 15 minute drive to Red Bank where you will see reflec­tions of New York City’s down­town atmosphere. Surrounded by a number of lounges, bars, restau­rants, and boutiques the town has a number of possible date locations.

Harz suggests Tommy’s Coal Fired Pizza. A quiet location, Tommy’s provides candles and dim lights for the ultimate roman­tic experience. “The food is good and tastes like authentic Italian, which makes it different from oth­er places,” Harz stated.

The Melting Pot, located in the same Galleria as Tommy’s Coal Fired Pizza, offers an interac­tive dining experience with their fondue cooking style. While ex­pensive, The Melting Pot offers a unique take on the traditional meal.

Harz describes the location as “very romantic” and notes “you can cook your own food and the food is made right there at the ta­ble. The food is really good and not many places have anything like it.” The restaurant has secluded booths and tables for those who wish to have some privacy and in­corporates low lights.

Other locations in the Red Bank area include Gaetano’s, La Pas­teria, Downtown, Dish, and The Bistro.

Close to campus and mainly known as Bruce Springsteen’s one true love, Asbury Park is another popular dining location.

Senior Class President Bryan Larco advises couples to go to Moonstruck. “The food is really good, they have good variety, and the lights are dim and romantic. It’s an upscale place, but not over-the-top where you have to go in a suit. It overlooks a small lake and serves cocktails on the first floor while you wait for seating on the second floor.”

While many go to local Long Branch areas, Asbury Park offers less of a chance to run into famil­iar faces; Thus it helps create a more secluded scene.

Health Studies professor and 17 year resident of Monmouth Coun­ty, Julie Schaaff, suggests The Brick Wall Tavern and Porta Na tional Park for a Valentine’s Day dinner. Schaaff says The Brick Wall Tavern provides “great veg­etarian meals” while Porta is “fun and has great food.”

She also adds that there are plen­ty of benefits for eating at a restau­rant during the holiday. “Going out means neither person has to cook or clean up! You can focus on each other,” says Schaaff.

The Brick Wall Tavern and Porta National Park are more of a casual bar atmosphere.

Focusing on your significant other is the reason why the holiday exists in the first place. Dinner is a great idea because “it’s an excuse for two people to get together and talk,” Harz said.

However, upscale restaurants are not necessarily the best choice for some couples. Harz said, “I think it’s hard for students because there aren’t always the cheapest of plac­es to eat and the cheap places usu­ally aren’t healthy. My boyfriend and I try to go out to eat once a month just to get away from all the craziness of school and then other days we just cook dinner together since it’s not too expensive.”

If you and your significant other are on a budget, do not let money be an obstacle. There are a number of relaxed chain restaurants with a variety of food options close to school. Friday’s, Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Applebee’s, Olive Gar­den and Houlihan’s are only about five to ten minutes travel time.

If you plan on taking your date out to dinner this Valentine’s Day, choose a restaurant that best fits your relationship. If you are look­ing for a romantic evening, pick a secluded location with low lights and quiet conversation. A more relaxed, inviting evening can be planned at a local, more popular restaurant. Whichever you choose, remember to enjoy the alone time you have with your special some­one.