Valentine’s date at Piccolino, Virginia Water

When deciding on a good Valentine’s restaurant, a lot of boxes must be ticked. My Valentine’s date at Piccolino, Virginia Water was my daughter Charlotte. A big love of my life. My heart, my soul, my empty mascara tube. We wanted to celebrate Valentine’s day in style. A Piccolino restaurant was exactly what we were looking for, it’s a good restaurant for couples and you can cozy up on sofas on the outdoor terrace while the DJ plays some ‘tunes’ or you can enjoy the nicely lit restaurant interior where quiet chatter is the norm.

But, why were we celebrating at all, with both our men away abroad? Well let me fill you in, firstly, it’s an excuse to eat at a Piccolino restaurant (and romantic Italian restaurants should be frequented as often as possible). Secondly, it’s a chance to spend a few quality hours with my darling daughter eating pasta (without watching Gilmore Girls. Although these evenings are both excellent and treasured). This way we can blether or prattle away without judgement and perhaps it may lead to new albeit small discovery about each other. Those ‘reeeally?‘ moments where you both fall into peels of laughter are among my favourites.

If you are tempted to avoid all Italian restaurants this Valentine’s here are my  30 Reasons To Celebrate Valentine’s Day. Just maybe, you too will grab someone special and head to your favourite spaghetti house.

Before we left, we stepped out planning a mini impromptu photo shot in the snow. Here I am looking absolutely delighted by a few specks. Charlotte was equally delighted by her photography skills, claiming she may have got my new profile picture among them.

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Just when you think winter is over, it starts to snow!

What we hadn’t realised until our journey home from the restaurant was that I was wearing my husbands big leather gloves. I found them in my pocket and thought ‘fantastic, I’d forgotten I bought these beauties!’. Imagine Kenny Everett. Well, needless to say they have been edited to crop out the offending oversizes appendages!

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We took a table inside and looked over the menu hungrily. There are all the classics here. Regional favourites from all over Italy. There was also a seasonal menu which talks about which foods are in season right now, where they sourced them from and, of course, how they will be prepared. You start to form a relationship with the ingredients before you pick your meal.

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You both disappear for a while behind the giant menus.

Both of us ordered pasta for our mains. Charlotte a spaghetti and myself a linguine. I think the film ‘The Lady and the Tramp’ makes long pasta perfect Valentine’s food.

I went about the exciting task of hunting for the perfect cocktail. Perfect for this night, that is. I wanted one that was fruity, icy and as pretty as a picture.

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Choosing a cocktail is my priority!

And, I got it! Simply beautiful and tasted really good.

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BRAMBLE
Bombay Sapphire gin with lemon and sugar – drizzled with French blackberry liqueur

Charlotte went for this twist on a mojito. Both of us girls were very happy. Thank goodness for long straws, right?

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ELDERFLOWER & GRAPEFRUIT MOJITO
El Dorado 3yr rum with pink grapefruit, Belvoir Elder ower cordial, mint, lime & soda

We shared a starter of toasted ciabatta, slathered with a flavoured mayonnaise topped with fresh crab, fennel, parsley and a bit a fresh chilli. It was divine. I would order this again!

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BRUSCHETTA CON GRANCHIO E FINOCCHIO
Hand-picked crab & fennel, toasted ciabatta

I feel like it’s a sin to the Roman gods if you say ‘no’ to the parmesan in an Italian restaurant. ‘A little’ is three spoonfuls. Which is perfect actually, because we only had a little (but it sure did taste good).

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SPAGHETTI SCOGLIO
Mussels, clams, prawns, squid, white wine & tomato

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My plate was the size of a serving dish, but the shell of 1/2 a lobster was snuggled under the pasta in all that sauce. I did my best to eat like a lady and twisted my linguine into a spoon. The trouble was, big spoon, little mouth. A bit of napkin dabbing was needed.

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LINGUINE ALL’ARAGOSTA
Half native lobster, tomato, chilli & basil

It’s been a few years since I ordered an ice-cream sundae but this one did sound intriguing. I can report that it was fabulous! I tested it for you until it was all gone and it was just as good at the end as it was at the beginning. If you enjoy poached pear and chocolate, you’re gonna love this.

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COPPA AL CIOCCOLATO | Chocolate & vanilla ice cream sundae,
poached pear & toasted crushed hazelnuts

We also ordered a tiramisu. I’ve had this before from here and I love it because it is made using amaretto (a fav. of mine) and it has a custard of sorts. Let’s be honest it isn’t a beauty of a pudding, but this is as elegant as you are ever likely to find one.

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TIRAMISÚ | Sponge fingers, mascarpone, Marsala & Amaretto

I had a great Valentine’s date at Piccolino, Virginia Water with my girl Charlotte. If you haven’t taken someone out for Valentine’s yet, there are Piccolino restaurants all over. Come on get like Lady and the Tramp, there are meatballs galore!

PIN this straight to your P’Interest board!

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Other tried and tested romantic restaurants for Valentines Day

Canto Corvino, London – great lighting, slick and bustly.

Riverlight, Bourne End – by the river for a nice walk afterwards.

Red Lion pub, Horsell – cosy pub, good food and cocktails.

The Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield – sexy place.

Stovell’s, Chobham – Classy, cozy, excellent food.

The Chesil Rectory, Winchester – one of the oldest and most romantic restaurants.

The Seasons restaurant at The Four Seasons, Hampshire – smart and sophisticated.

Positano in Guildford – cosy Italian in a very old building.

Kinghams in Shere – gorgeous old pub, turned restaurant in a picture perfect village.

The Wellington Arms in Baughurst – great everything plus the best pub garden for miles!

The Royal Oak Paley Street – smart casual setting in an old property. Fantastic food and service.

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