Love bites

Restaurants throughout the city are encouraging their patrons’ romantic appetites on Valentine’s Day with special aphrodisiac menus for the holiday. Love and food easily go hand in hand. So it’s no surprise that many restaurants

CHRIS MONTGOMERY TTN From Feb. 13-16, Matyson, a BYOB on 19th Street, will serve a special Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac menu. Seared diver scallops are one of the many menu options.

Restaurants throughout the city are encouraging their patrons’ romantic appetites on Valentine’s Day with special aphrodisiac menus for the holiday.

Love and food easily go hand in hand. So it’s no surprise that many restaurants are offering a menu specializing in heightening that special someone’s feelings of love and desire.

Today, Feb. 14 restaurants in Center City, Old City, Rittenhouse Square and beyond are offering their special aphrodisiac menus to aid in wooing  your valentine.

An aphrodisiac is a food or drink that supposedly helps heighten sexual desire. Appropriately, the word aphrodisiac stems from the name of the Greek goddess of sexuality and love herself, Aphrodite. Many remember the movie scene featuring  candles and raw oysters to set the tone for the night ahead.

Presented in many forms, aphrodisiacs can be something organic, an appetizer or even a cocktail. Restaurants are showcasing these in every  day, and not so every day, foods to make Valentine’s Day one to remember.

Some people suggest that aphrodisiacs include chocolate, which is rich with a feel-good chemical called anandamide, oysters, which help produce sperm and increase libido, bananas, which are full of minerals and vitamins that can enhance the male libido, and avocados and figs, which, to many, emulate sexual organs.

Other not so popular aphrodisiacs are asparagus, caviar and ginseng.

Although there is no scientific evidence that suggests  aphrodisiacs do heighten sexual desires, many restaurants are playing with the idea that they do. And if not, maybe the natural high of being in the presence of that special someone is the heightening ingredient masqueraded in the food you consume.

Serrano and Tin Angel

Walking through Old City can be a romantic venue in itself, so after working up your appetite for romance, stop by Serrano and Tin Angel at 20 S. Second St. for its Valentine’s Day feast.

“The chef always has a special menu very often catered toward couples if they’d like,” Kevin O’Malley, the manager at Serrano, said. “It’s customer friendly, the option is there and since the setting and appeal is already very warm it makes it that much more cozy and warm for couples interested in that.”

Serrano, the main dining space and Tin Angel, a café and music venue, are not only concerned with having great food that highlights international cuisines like those found in Thailand and Hungary. They also incorporate great music played live in their restaurant.

For its fifth consecutive year, Hoots and Hellmouth will play upstairs in the Tin Angel on Valentine’s Day. If one’s not in the mood for the folksy tunes, downstairs in Serrano the ambiance will be set for diners to enjoy the sounds of their own conversation.

“Hoots and Hellmouth have played here before and about five or six years ago decided to create something like an annual, holiday tradition where they play two shows on Valentine’s Day,” said O’Malley, who’s been at Serrano for 14 years.

This tradition attracts diehard fans and allows for those who have made a reservation to get some of the best seats in the house.

Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti

On the second floor of 212 Walnut St. across from the Ritz 5 movie theatre, Positano Coast boasts a dining experience that is “sexy, bewitching and creative.”

Also inspired by the cuisine of Italy, Positano Coast incorporates its Crudo menu, essentially a raw-fish bar, and organic cocktails to make every dining experience one to remember. Their Valentine’s Day-themed menu offers New York strip steak for hearty eaters and herb crusted Mahi for those a bit more adventurous.

Don’t forget to ask about  two specialty aphrodisiac cocktails on the menu, “Give me Some More” and “Pearls and Persecco.” A little booze always helps to set the mood.

Varalli Restaurant

At 231 S. Broad St., Varalli’s prides itself in providing diners with a “memorable experience.” Its cuisine highlights gourmet Italian seafood and is influenced with Mediterranean flavors.

Its décor sets a tone of intimacy and playfulness with  high-backed booths that can hold groups of six, private rooms for parties and a main dining room for couples and groups to enjoy not only food and company.

Chef de cuisine William Carroll, has prepared a menu special for Valentine’s Day that will be featured alongside their regular menu.

If the colossal crab cocktail loaded with avocado, mango, extra virgin olive oil, lime and cilantro or dark chocolate and strawberry valentine gelato heart doesn’t get you and your lover in the mood, perhaps the smooth swing jazz sounds of Mark Randall on piano and Robert Campbell on bass will help.

Not to mention the long stemmed rose you can request to be delivered to your table when making your reservation.

Whether on a date with friends or a special someone,  diners can experiment with these various aphrodisiacs for “scientific reasons” and see if they’re left in a state of desire, or even more bitter than they were to begin with.

Alexandra Olivier can be reached at

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