- Skip the crowded restaurants for a more intimate night at home.
- Impress your date with a meal made with love using fresh and local ingredients.
- Here are chef picks for romantic dinners, from simple pizza night to a more formal surf 'n' turf dish.
While cooking for yourself seems easy, there is something about cooking a romantic dinner that feels intimidating. For a first date, your cooking skills might make or break the possibility of a second date. For more seasoned relationships, the pressure remains, because no one wants to offer up a sad serving of spaghetti that sets a bad tone for the entire night.
Your date will probably enjoy your company regardless of whether you take time to test a new restaurant or you grab fast food, but its that extra bit of thought, time, and effort that really makes a difference. Here are some tried-and-true recipes to make when you want to treat your partner to an extra-special dinner.
Prepare a roast chicken alla diavola.
Roast chicken alla diavola just sounds fancy. But its a rather simple recipe , and you likely already have most of the ingredients on hand. Chef Ryan DeNicola of chi Spacca , an upscale Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, recommended this dish to INSIDER because of the minimal effort required to make it and how easy it is to share between a couple. Try pairing it with a medium-bodied red wine.
Serve a whole, roasted branzino.
Another recommendation via Chef DeNicola, branzino is a European bass also known as Mediterranean Sea Bass. Try roasting it with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon. Its another easy and shareable dish that will really impress your fellow diner.
Get your date involved with homemade pizzas.
While you might turn up your nose at a frozen or cheap delivery pizza for a romantic date night, homemade pizza is next level. Pizza is easy and customizable, plus it is fun to have your date get involved in making dinner with you.
"Homemade pizza is a good one, because two people can participate and it's hands-on, fun, and everyone loves pizza," Kate Green, communications director at Mozza Restaurant Group , told INSIDER.
Your date will be impressed by how delicious homemade pizza is compared to delivery.
Wine and dine your lover with a classic fettuccine Alfredo.
Maybe it sounds clich, but you just can't go wrong with a fettuccine Alfredo. If you decide on this as your meal, make sure you put extra love into it by making the sauce from scratch. To really kick things up a notch, make the noodles, too. Whether this is your first date or your 100th, your date will be impressed.
Whether as a side dish or an entre, a high-quality salad will work magic.
Before you roll your eyes, remember that a salad can actually be quite delicious. Use fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, and be sure to add a variety of textures.
"A fantastic salad is not necessarily one with the most exotic ingredients or costly components, but one that tastes and feels well balanced in the mouth," according to the famous Julia Child . "When using fresh, high-quality ingredients, there's no need to mask the flavor of one item with another; instead, everything tossed into the salad mix has a purpose."
With homemade dressing and topped with lean protein, a salad can truly be a show-stopper.
Go surf n' turf with steak and lobster.
Nothing really seems as fancy as a dinner that combines the best of land and sea. Spoil your date by making a filet mignon and lobster accompanied with simple sides like perfectly creamy mashed potatoes and lightly steamed asparagus.
"I love the way [meat and fish] play off each other," said Kris Delee , executive chef of The Duck Inn in Chicago. "Usually, I prefer the surf over the turf, but when that marriage is just right, the flavors they bring out in each other are unbeatable."
Your date will smile at a beautiful bowl of gnocchi.
If you have the time, put together homemade gnocchi with a cream-based sauce of your choosing. Pesto also plays nicely here.
"Gnocchi is the reason that I went to Italy; gnocchi is the reason that I became a chef," said chef Andrew Carmellini . "I love gnocchi! Gnocchi would be my last meal if I got to pick; it's the food I'd want to have if I could only have one."
Impress your date with a rack of lamb.
You could say that the patience needed to get that perfectly grilled and caramelized rack of lamb will show your partner that patience is a virtue one that you hold.
"If you want to pull out all the stops for a gorgeous dinner, nothing does it better than a roasted rack of lamb," according to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts . "This dish is dressed to impress. From the tender meat to the crispy outside crust, there is no better special occasion meal than one that contains rack of lamb."
Pamper your significant other with a shaved-truffle pasta.
Truffles are the epitome of luxurious dining. Truffle oil even takes basic French fries to the highest level.
"You cannot make a more expensive pasta dish than this, but that is not as important as the fact that you cannot make a more-delicious pasta dish," said chef Fabio Trabocchi , owner of several restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Fiora .
Fresh pasta is the best way to execute this dish, then pair it with a creamy sauce and those delicately shaved truffles.
Don't forget the chocolate.
Chocolate is an essential part of a romantic dinner. Whether it's dipped strawberries, small candies, a souffle, or the beloved lava cake, chocolate can set the mood for the rest of the night.