What makes a restaurant romantic?
Good food and wine are a given, but it’s really the overall experience – including the setting – that counts, hopefully letting you fall a little more in love with your partner.
This list of the most romantic restaurants in town is subjective, yes, as what’s romantic is in the eye of the beholder. Fresno certainly has plenty of romantic restaurants not listed here (though quite a few were ruled out because they’re too noisy to have an intimate conversation).
In no particular order, here’s my picks for the most romantic restaurants in the Fresno area:
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1. Oggi Cosi Si Manga, 1110 N. Van Ness Ave., Fresno. The name means “this is how to eat today,” but mostly people just call it Oggi (pronounced ‘OH gee.’). The little Tower District restaurant feels like you’re having a meal in someone’s home with a fireplace, twinkling lights and lots of windows.
The Italian menu includes lots of pasta – including a luscious gnocchi tossed in a gorgonzola-rosé sauce – chicken and shrimp dishes.
2. Trelio, 438 Clovis Ave. #4, Clovis. This intimate little restaurant has long been the place to get a gourmet meal and a quality glass of wine. Last year, the restaurant revamped its interior, bringing in new tables and a bar made by a local woodworker from wood salvaged from the North Fork area. The owners also slashed menu prices by 30 percent.
3. The School House Restaurant & Tavern, 1018 S. Frankwood Ave., Sanger. An actual former school house, the restaurant is full of old-school touches like an old water fountain and black-and-white photos. Seats in the train-like booths are especially cozy.
It has a creative menu that includes lamb-sausage pizza, meatloaf and lemoncello cheesecake.
4. Erna’s Elderberry House, 48688 Victoria Lane, Oakhurst. This is the central San Joaquin Valley’s only restaurant with a Forbes four-star rating.
It features a cozy setting, a leisurely dining experience, a gourmet tasting menu, top-notch wines and craft cocktails. The five-course meal will cost you, but if money is a concern, check out Erna’s three- and four-course meals and its a la carte menu.
You can also hit up the little bar that feels like a rock-lined wine cellar from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It features an inexpensive pub menu, plenty of wine and a mixologist making creative cocktails.
5. The Majestic Yosemite Hotel Dining Room, formerly the Ahwahnee, in Yosemite National Park. It’s the setting – both indoors and out – that makes this place romantic. It has a 34-foot-high ceiling, stone walls, huge windows, a piano player, polished sugar pine beams and a dress code.
The menu features some indulgent options like roasted rack of lamb, a New York steak and seafood.