Pazo

Pazo is among the restaurants offering Valentine's Day specials. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun / February 26, 2010)

Every few years, Valentine's Day falls on a Monday, which is very good news for restaurants. Think about it: It's only when Feb. 14 falls on Monday that restaurants can stretch the big dining-out occasion into a four-day, long-weekend dating extravaganza.

This time, restaurants appear ready. High-end restaurants like Da Mimmo (217 S. High St., 410-727-6876, damimmo.com) in Little Italy are offering complimentary limousine service and promising long-stem roses for their female customers.

Enterprising Federal Hill taverns like Porters (1032 Riverside Ave., 410-332-7345, portersfederalhill.com) and Ryleigh's Oyster House (36 E. Cross St., 410-539-2093, ryleighs.com) are pulling out all the stops, too: Both are trotting out special menus created for the occasion. Every dish on Ryleigh's small-plates menu includes at least one ingredient — oysters, chilies, honey, chocolate — thought to be an aphrodisiac. Still another Federal Hill restaurant, Regi's American Bistro (1002 Light St., 410-539-7344, regisamericanbistro.com) is offering half-price bottles of wine and complimentary bittersweet chocolate bark on Valentine's Day.

For restaurants entering the traditional post-Restaurant Week dropoff in business, the real bonus is having Monday, typically the slowest night in the industry, booked to the rafters. Bookings were still high for this Friday and Saturday at the restaurants I canvassed, Sunday slightly less so.

At least a handful of restaurants that are typically closed on Mondays, including the Feast @ Four East, Tapas Teatro, B, the Rumor Mill, Clementine and Henninger's Tavern, were opening their doors for Valentine's Day. The last time Ken Vieth of Henninger's can recall opening his Fells Point restaurant on a Monday night was the last time New Year's Eve fell on a Monday.

Fixed-price menus, which you might have thought you'd seen the last of for a while since Restaurant Week is over, make a comeback for Valentine's Day. Among the restaurants offering fixed-price menu options during at least part of Valentine's weekend include B, Cinghiale, Charleston, Chef's Expressions, Crush, Frank & Nic's West End Grille, Gertrude's, Morton's The Steakhouse, Pazo, Petit Louis, Roy's, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Sullivan's Steakhouse and Waterstone Bar & Grille.

Valentine's Day, as it turns out, returns to a Monday in intervals of five, six or 11 years, depending on when leap year falls. The next time Valentine's Day lands on a Monday will be in 2022.

Check out baltimoresun.com/valentinesday for more restaurant details.

A cafe expands Westminster's A Little Bit of Tuscany opened Friday with a new name, Cafe Tuscany. The name change comes with renovations, including a new bar with seating and an expanded dining area.

Rose and Kirk Seaman opened A Little Bit of Tuscany on Main Street in 2008 as an informal cafe and Italian home furnishings shop. As Cafe Tuscany, it will be all cafe, all the time.

Rose Seaman says her mission is to bring affordable food and wine to the community. Cafe Tuscany, she said, will be "an everyday-person kind of place — unpretentious, but with really good food." An Italian wine lover, Seaman added, "I want everyone to experience really great wine, and you'll be able to get it here $5 a glass, or $30 a bottle."

On chef Tara Trawinski's opening menu are cafe favorites like gourmet pizzas, panini and specialty pasta dishes, along with new items like European burgers, Asian-style wings and Italian nachos.

Cafe Tuscany is at 84 E. Main St., Westminster. Call 410-857-4422 or go to alittlebitoftuscany.com.

Changes for Luminous Luminous, the restaurant at the Westin Baltimore Washington Airport-BWI, has replaced its original (since 2007) pan-Asian and tapas concept with a full-on American menu. Edward Kim, the much-admired chef from Soigne and Saffron, is still executive chef, and Ed Evans is still in place as the food and beverage director.

The menu at Luminous now features such hearty fare as "72 Hr" short ribs with "too-much-garlic" mashers, micro-green salad and open-flame bourbon reduction; pan-seared sea scallops with smoked bacon, green onions, and lemon cream tossed linguini; and lobster with fried-apple risotto.

Luminous is at 1110 Olde Elkridge Landing Road, Linthicum. Call 410-577-2310 or go to luminousbaltimore.com

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com


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