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That's amore!

You don't need a limo, a loaded wallet, or an excuse for a special occasion to enjoy Little Italy.

By Alexis Sweeney

Special to SunSpot

February 3, 2000

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Little Italy is a popular spot for first dates, romantic nights and frequent marriage proposals. But what if you just don't have the dough for an extravagant dinner? There are ways that you can enjoy the lure of Italy without blowing your budget.

Head to Amicci's.
Amicci's offers plentiful helpings of hearty Italian food in the $10 to $15 range. The restaurant also offers a nice selection of wines, appetizers and desserts. Compared to some of the other restaurants in the area, Amicci's is casual. This makes it a great choice if you've been at the ball game or roaming the Inner Harbor all day.

Looking for a little romance? Try dining in any of Little Italy's restaurants. (Photo by Emily Deutschman, Special to SunSpot)

Enjoy a drink in the lounge at Da Mimmo.
Da Mimmo is one of the most luxurious -- and expensive -- restaurants in Little Italy. Instead of forking over a day's pay to eat there, visit the cozy lounge. Enjoy a cocktail and listen to live entertainment while you watch the upper crust arrive via limo.

Give your sweetheart sweets.
After spending an afternoon sightseeing or shopping in the Inner Harbor, stroll over to Little Italy for some dessert. Vaccaro's sells delectable desserts, rich coffees and creamy gelato. After a slice of silky tiramisu, your sweetheart will have such a sugar high that she'll forget you missed dinner. (For more on Vaccaro's, see All-you-can-sweet.)

Hey, good lookin': So many sweets, so little time at Vaccaro's. (Photo by Emily Deutschman, Special to SunSpot)

Pub crawl.
If pizza, subs and sandwiches are more your style, you can enjoy a nice casual meal at Antney's Bar and Grill, a friendly neighborhood tavern. A few doors down is Lucky Luciano's Speakeasy, another casual eating and drinking establishment with a game room and pool tables.

Wait for the festival.
If you want to overload yourself on all things Italian, wait for one of the frequent neighborhood festivals held throughout the year. The festivals are a great time to sample authentic Italian food, listen to traditional music and learn how to play bocce -- a game that resembles bowling. If you really want to delight your honey, go to the Open-Air Italian Film Festival in July or August for a warm summer night, a romantic comedy and free popcorn. Now that's amore.