Why is it that the majority of dates are conducted in a restaurant? Is it because when you are in love your senses are heightened? I suppose it makes sense, after all having your senses stimulated is one of the great pleasures in life, so perhaps that’s why love and food go hand in hand. Choosing the right location is obviously a big factor in setting the mood. There is fancy, elegant, relaxed, innovative, chic, rustic etc. The list could go on and on. When choosing an evening for romance this month, my suggestion is Emil’s. Why Emil’s? There are a plethora of reasons. First and foremost, it is romantic. It is all about nooks and corners and booths and low lighting. It is perfect for murmured conversation and hidden affection. It invites this intimacy, an evening of private whispers and soft kisses. Some restaurants are glitz and sparkles and happening and “now.” Love can be like that. Then it changes to something richer. Emil’s, being the oldest restaurant in Lansing, is definitely the later. It is not perfect, but like any good love, there is established loyalty and proof of longevity. Like a good man, it is charming and sweet. So there you are tucked in a back booth with your love. Did you decide to sit on the same side? It is time to dive into the sights, smells and tastes of the evening. Let’s warm up with the minestrone. It is classic. Simple, all of the elements of the kitchen (veggies and herbs galore) married in a broth loaded with depth. Want to feed each other calamari? Should you go decadent? How about an appetizer of bacon and Alfredo topped potato skins? The dish is a juxtaposition of crunchy salt and satin sauce. If this is what one has to look forward to, the evening is going to lean towards the naughty. Good thing. Which way to go on the entrée? Try something really satisfying, like the lasagna. Laden with layers of spicy sausage, tangy sauce and silky ricotta, it tickles your tongue and leaves you wanting more. Or how about the Chicken Diablo? Tender breasts of breaded chicken lay atop firm penne pasta covered in a half marinara, half Alfredo sauce. It is lush and lovely, flush with flavor. For an all time classically romantic move, you could do the “Spaghetti a la Emil’s for Two.” Just don’t forget the bread and butter. Smear a hot piece, watch the butter melt and share. Speaking of sharing, do not forget to end your evening with something sweet. Tiramisu should fit the bill. Cool and smooth custard slides over your tongue while the ladyfingers tease with the taste of coffee. Wrap your hands around a hot espresso. It will help keep you up. Ahhh…amore…. Did I get a little carried away with my romantic reverie? Not really. The reality is Emil’s is a great Italian spot in the heart of Lansing. It is not fussy, just solid in its offerings. It is my understanding that the Linguini and Clams are excellent. However, this menu option is not something I would suggest for an evening you hope will end with a serious make-out session. There are a ton of baked pasta dishes. Think Manicotti, Mostaccioli and Ravioli. And then there are all of the Italian classics: Chicken and Eggplant Parmigiana, Chicken Picatta and Cacciatora, Fettuccini Alfredo and more. An added bonus is that all the sauces are all made from scratch. Emil’s also sounds great for lunch. It is centrally located in the right spot, reasonably priced and has many sandwich options that start with the word “giant” (an especially good adjective when discussing meatballs, sandwiches and sausages). Emil’s also allows me to continue my love affair with pizza. They have those too. Thank you for indulging me as I waxed lovie-dovie in the above review. Now go indulge at Emil’s. Just be glad that I refrained from a Lady and the Tramp reference where you share the “Spaghetti a la Emil’s for Two” complete with pushing the meatball across the plate with your nose and sucking in the last noodle together for an innocent kiss. Now … let’s all break into song … WHEN …THE … MOON HITS YOUR EYE LIKE A BIG PIZZA PIE THAT’S AMORE!!!!!
Colette Evangelista sells certified organic, non-toxic beauty, health, baby and home products at www.healthandhopeorganics.com. Twenty percent of her profits go to Ascending Above Autisim, a charity that helps parents pay for autism treatment.