New Jersey Date Night is a series on NJ Flavor by relationship writer Craig Rogers.

Now that Christmas morning is over, memories of Dasher and Prancer are still in our heads. Of course there are only eight tiny reindeer to remember but if there were one extra on Santa’s team, it would surely be Romancer. He’d be the coolest reindeer of all; very suave, understatedly flirty and exceptionally confident. If Clark Gable’s looks could transfer species, Romancer would definitely have his grin — the one guaranteed to melt even the Abominable Snowman.

Romancer is the one we should remember all year long. During the normal hustle and bustle of holidays past we tend to put romance on the back burner, placing our attention on family gatherings and office parties.  Even though 2020 is ending both quietly and not soon enough, we have some extra time on our hands leading up to the New Year. Romancer reminds us that there’s no excuse to socially distance from the one we love and it’s time to create that perfectly romantic late December date.

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Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night where Romance plays the lead in your holiday production!

Romance with Good Tastings

Date Night at Spuntino Wine Bar will give you taste galore. Located in Clifton, their specialty is small plate, tapas-style offerings with Italian flavor. From arancini (risotto balls with peas, mozzarella, tomato sauce) to wild mushroom bruschetta (wild mushroom ragu, fontina cheese, truffle oil and parsley), you both will love taking bites from each other’s plate. 

If you want your romantic date night to happen at home, you can pre-order and pick up one of their date night packages, like the Classico (with shrimp scampi bruschetta, rigatoni bolognese, truffled artichoke hearts and lamb chops) or the Tradizionale (with tomato basil bruschetta, arancini, margarita pizza and meatballs). Save room for the ciambelle (house-made doughnuts with chocolate syrup, Nutella and salted caramel dipping sauces).

For more information about Spuntino Wine Bar, visit

Seasons of Love

Keeping it seasonal is the daily mission at Lorena’s in Maplewood. You and your date will savor every romantic bite of Chef Campos’s menu, which offers his interpretation of haute cuisine deeply rooted in French technique and inspired by the seasons. 

Their holiday menu includes tempting choices like wild mushroom bisque with goat cheese, black truffle and croutons and salmon tartare served with radish, cucumber, wasabi tobiko, creme fraiche and a crispy wonton. For your main course, choices include rack of lamb (herb- and Dijon- crusted Colorado lamb with rosemary lamb jus) and chateaubriand (sliced beef tenderloin with thyme-black truffle beef jus). Be sure to save room for dessert, like carrot cake with brown butter toffee-pecan sauce.

For more information about Lorena’s, visit

Love Grows

Big love requires big space, and when that space includes a farm, a cooking school and both indoor and outdoor dining options, you know you’re in a very special place. Ninety Acres in Peacock Gladstone is on the Natirar Estate, rich in history dating back to the early 1900s. The cuisine features New Jersey produce and meats, with expert focus on freshness. 

You’ll find their menu tempting, but one romantic option is to treat yourself to their four-course prix fixe dinner created by Executive Chef Freddie Vargas. If you’re planning to experience Ninety Acres on New Year’s Eve, their three-course menu includes foie gras and rabbit terrine with caramelized seckel pear, almond praline and toasted brioche and scallops with sunchokes, porcini mushrooms and black winter truffle.

For more information about Ninety Acres, visit

L’Amor Toujours

When it comes to romance, the French know how to serve. Chez Catherine in Westfield features amazing French cuisine in a romantic setting with service that’s second to none. You and your date will be impressed with their three-course meal, with choices including Prince Edward Island Mussels with white wine and tarragon cream and Black Angus NY strip steak served with fingerling potatoes and a roasted mushroom demi-glace. 

Dessert is the perfect ending to a perfect meal with choices including cranberry white chocolate bread pudding or their soufflé of the day.

For more information about Chez Catherine, visit

Dash Away All!

Someday soon we’ll all resume normal programming, from daily work in an actual office to gathering with friends in person … without masks and absent of worry. And in a December around the corner, probably sooner than you think, the holiday craze will reappear. When it does, we can’t forget our pal Romancer.

We can’t forget how important it is to carve out some romantic time with our love. Be it during the holidays or when the normal work week becomes a hectic dash to the finish line, taking the time to be together allows you to celebrate the history you created. Taking that time allows you to keep your story going with new experiences that create present day memories. If you’re going to believe in a talking and flying reindeer, it’s best to choose Romancer.

He’s the one who exclaimed as they rode out of sight, “Happy Holidays to all, and to all a great Date Night!”

Craig Rogers is the guy who gets relationships write. Author of The 49th Challenge, Craig has written countless articles on dating, relationships and breakup recovery. To learn more about Craig, visit

What’s your idea for a great New Jersey Date? Tell Craig all about it at


More Date Night Ideas:

Joyful Winter Day Trips

Flavors of South America

Meet Me for Happy Hour

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