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Ten romantic Oakland and Berkeley restaurants to celebrate Valentine's Day

Desco is a romantic spot in Old Oakland perfect for a Valentine dinner.
Desco is a romantic spot in Old Oakland perfect for a Valentine dinner.
Justi Wunderle

Valentine’s Day, very conveniently, falls on a Friday this year. But of course there’s always the option to extend the love all through the weekend. Enjoy our list of Oakland and Berkeley hot spots to tempt the taste buds and get the passion juices flowing via wine and food to engage the senses.

Ajanta Restaurant in Berkeley will be open for lunch from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM and for dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 PM serving the regular a la carte menus plus a $27.50 Chef’s Tasting Menu for dinner with three appetizers, four main dishes and sides of rice, naan bread, chutneys and pickles, plus dessert.

The appetizers will be Tandoori Scallops, Tandoori Chicken Chaat, and Tandoori Portobello Mushrooms. The main dishes will be Galina Shakooti, Lamb Rib Chops, Methi Machi and Achari Baingan.

A vegetarian option will be offered for $24.50. All prices exclude tax and gratuity.

1888 Solano Avenue: 510.526.4373

Barrel Room Oakland will be seating at 5:30 and 8:00 PM serving an $85.00 five-course prix fix menu with main course choices of Wild Mushroom Risotto or Veal Chop Bordelaise with root vegetable purée. Individual courses will also be available on an a la carte basis.

Guests will begin their meal with complimentary champagne and dessert will include a rose to take home.

5330 College Avenue: 510.655.1700

Bourbon & Beef in Oakland will be open from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM serving their regular menu plus a la carte specials in the spirit of the occasion.

5634 College Avenue: 510.788.4821

BUILD Pizzeria Roma in Berkeley will be open at noon serving their regular menu and, for dinner, the regular menu plus four special prix fixe meals for two, each with two salads, a shared pizza, two desserts and two pints of specialty beers from Bison Brewing.

All couples will also be entered into a raffle for free movie passes good for a show at the UA Cinema next door to the restaurant.

The pizzas to be served as a part of the prix fixe dinner options will be The Aphrodisiac with pancetta, dates, caramelized onions, gorgonzola and arugula; Some Like It Hot, a piccante pizza with one extra ingredient; A Rose by any other Name with Quattro Formaggi and one extra ingredient; and Couples Therapy, a BUILD your own pizza.

2286 Shattuck Avenue: 510.898.1839

Centouno in Oakland will have two seatings, 5:30 and 7:30 PM, with the regular a la carte menu available plus a $49.00 five-course prix fixe menu that begins with the restaurant's signature Torta Fritta, fried puffed dough with a variety of cured meats.

Main course choices for the prix fixe will be Salsiccia Brulle, sweet Italian sausage with red onion stew in red wine sauce or Melanzane Parmagiana, eggplant cutlets with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese. All prices exclude tax and gratuity.

101 Broadway: 510.433.5030

Desco in Old Oakland will be open from 11:30 AM to 11:00 PM serving their regular a la carte lunch and dinner menus and, beginning at 6:30 PM, then only a $48.00 three-course prix menu or a $62.00 four-course prix fixe menu.

Primo and secondo course selections for both prix fixe menus are Squid Ink Carnaroli Risotto with calamari; Veal Cappelletti with a Crescenza cheese and fresh tomato sauce, asparagus tips; Grilled Duck Breast encrusted with Sicilian Pistachio, with braised endive; or Traditional Seafood Stew with calamari, salmon, mussels, clams, prawns in a light tomato broth, housemade ciabatta crostone.

Each couple will receive complimentary chocolates or a rose.

499 9th Street: 510.663.9000

Homestead in Oakland will be seating from 5:00 to 10:00 PM serving a $120.00 four-course prix fixe menu that serves two people and has two choices for each course with the couple having to order the same choice for each course in question.

An optional wine pairing will also be available for an additional charge.
Main course choices will be Whole Roasted Snapper with preserved lemon, fried farro, new onions or Prime Rib with braised baby onions, heirloom chicories, crispy potatoes. Each couple will receive a complimentary bag of sweets to take home.

4029 Piedmont Ave: 510.420.6962

Jack London Square has myriad options for Valentine’s Day. Start off at the East Bay’s most eccentric bar, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon then go exploring. Yoshi’s (jazz and sushi) is always a good option.

Joshu-ya Brasserie in Berkeley will be open from 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM serving the regular a la carte lunch menu and, beginning at 4:00 PM for dinner, the choice only of a $65.00 four-choice prix tasting menu or a $80.00 five-choice prix fixe tasting menu.

Among the possible selections for both menus are Seared Scallop Risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, asparagus, leeks, purple cauliflower truffle puree; Salmon Crudo Sashimi with caper, pine nut, cherry tomatoes, greens, brioche toast, lemon-truffle aioli; Slow Roasted Pork Belly Tacos (2) 6-hour roasted pork belly, radish, red bell pepper, cilantro-jalapeño pesto; and Grass-Fed Lamb Sliders (2) with cheddar, yogurt-dill sauce, buttered brioche bun, red onion, pickle.

2441 Dwight Way: 510.848.5260

Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill on Lake Merritt is one of the most romantic Valentine destination restaurants in Oakland, given the location, ambience and lake reflections. If the weather is good, try the Gondola Servizio that serves romance with a view, bubbly and song.

1520 Lakeside Drive: 510.208.5253

See A Love Letter to Lake Merritt plus six reasons to go love the lake yourself.

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