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Top ten romantic restaurants in Miami

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With Valentine's Day only a week away, the Miami Dining Examiner asks the eternal question- what makes a restaurant romantic? Certainly rose petals and candlelight help, but more specifically the restaurant should be attractive, with cozy seating, low lighting, soft music and a warm ambience.

In Miami, where residents are blessed with wonderful weather and waterfront locations, restaurants that take advantage of these pluses get extra credit. The bottom line is, no matter how beautiful and charming a restaurant my be, if the food and service isn't excellent, all the other attributes matter little. It's hard to be romantic when a server is awol or the food is mediocre.

To determine the ten most romantic restaurants in Miami, the Miami Dining Examiner used personal experience, friend's recommendations and online opinions.

Casa Tua
Casa Tua Photo by Gina Guilford

Casa Tua

Every search for "most romantic restaurant in Miami" yielded the name of Casa Tua, which the website promotes as "if you were visiting the home of a good friend". That would be correct, if your friend was loaded, owned a Mediterranean villa and gardens and knew how to cook exquisite northern Italian cuisine. This place is not for the faint of wallet.

Red Fish Grill
Red Fish Grill Photo by Gina Guilford

Red Fish Grill

A local fan favorite, this restaurant located at Matheson Hammock Park offers indoor and outdoor seating, lighted palm trees and a view of the water and beach; this seafood restaurant takes advantage of the fruits of Miami's tropical locale.

Romeo's Cafe
Romeo's Cafe Photo by Gina Guilford

Romeo's Cafe

While this intimate dining spot may not look much from the street (Coral Way), once diners enter Romeo's, they will forget the unromantic location. There is no set menu; diners are asked their food preferences and tastes and a special, Northern Italian influenced feast of four to six small dishes is prepared by Romeo himself. Service here is excellent.

The Cypress Room
The Cypress Room Photo by Gina Guilford

The Cypress Room

Travel and Leisure magazine just voted The Cypress Room, in the design district, as one of the most romantic new restaurants in the U.S. With a menu of old Florida dining, with old fashioned cocktails and a rib eye for two, the incredible Michael Schwartz puts a retro spin on the classics.

Il Gabbiano
Il Gabbiano Photos by Gina Guilford

Il Gabbiano

This Italian restaurant, like the seagull it's named after, is situated on the water and makes the most of Miami's spectacular views. White tablecloths, authentic Italian fare, impeccable service and little treats like a hunk of Parmesan cheese served at your table and complimentary biscotti, make this spot one to return to over and over again.

The Palme d' Or
The Palme d' Or Photo by Gina Guilford

The Palme d' Or

The beautiful and historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald once partied, is also home to the Palme d' Or restaurant, helmed by James beard rising star nominee chef Gregory Pugin. Enjoy delicate and artfully presented French fare in an elegant atmosphere. Finish with a nightcap in the courtyard by the fountain the full romantic experience.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Mandolin Aegean Bistro Photo by Gina Guilford

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

This Aegean bistro, combining Turkish and Greek cuisines, offers outside dining on a cobblestone patio. With blue and white décor and twinkling lights under the trees, this spot in the design district seems made for romance. Food is more reasonably priced than some of the other restaurants on this list, another plus.

Cecconi's in the Soho House
Cecconi's in the Soho House Photo by Gina Guilford

Cecconi's in the Soho House

Rub elbows with the rich and famous at Cecconi's, a classic Italian restaurant at the Soho House in Miami Beach. Trees twinkle with white lights, while hanging votives illuminate this casual, relaxed spot that offers soup, salad, pasta, entrees and desserts. Enjoy some wine with some cicchetti (Italian appetizers) and live la dolce vita.

Panorama
Panorama Photo by Gina Guilford

Panorama

This Peruvian/American restaurant is located on the eighth floor of the Sonesta Hotel in Coconut Grove and offers stunning views of Biscaye Bay. It can be windy outside, so a table by the window is recommended. Finish your night with a drink or dessert at the Peacock Café, located on the bottom floor of the Sonesta in a beautiful garden setting. There's a special menu at Panorama for Valentine's Day.

Christy's
Christy's Photo by Gina Guilford

Christy's

Kick it old school with Christy's steak house, celebrating thirty years in Coral Gables. Before there was Ruth Chris, Fleming's or Morton's in the Gables, there was Christy's, whose rich red walls, low lighting and cozy nooks and crannies, still make it the best steakhouse for romance. Split their famous Caesar salad, then dig into a steak, lamb chops or fish for dinner. A piano player tickles the ivories Friday (Valentine's Day!) from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

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