The month of hearts and flowers is a perfect time to appreciate your beloved. Here’s a roundup of some great local places to have a romantic dinner (or bring it home to eat by candlelight), find a token of your love and appreciation, and celebrate your loved one with beautiful flowers.

Schenectady abounds with unique restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious appetizers and entrees.

These are some of my favorites:

Devin and Kaytrin Ziemann opened The Nest Restaurant & Bar in October 2020. On Valentine’s Day, the restaurant, which specializes in southern cuisine, will be offering a pri fixe menu for $95 per guest with an optional wine pairing for an additional $35 per person. If you go for lunch, you can try my favorite dish, “That’s My Jam,” a fried chicken breast with caramelized onion bacon jam, honey truffle sage aioli, smoked Gouda and bacon on brioche. For an appetizer, try the restaurant’s quintessential southern dish, fried green tomatoes served with bacon, pimento cheese and buttermilk ranch.

Stella Pasta Bar & Bistro opened in 2016 and recently relocated to Schenectady’s Stockade District. Lisa and John Reilly along with Chris Sule continue their family-friendly offerings and now also operate the Seven Points Brewery. My family enjoys the “family takeaway meals” that are offered Tuesdays through Thursdays along with a few orders of crushed parmesan potatoes.

For amore, there are great Italian choices, too.

Canali’s Italian and American Restaurant has been in Schenectady for 76 years. The restaurant, which is open for dining in on Friday through Sunday with takeout on Wednesdays and Thursdays will be open for take-out service on Valentine’s Day (Tuesday) from 3:15 to 7:45 p.m. When I eat there, it’s chicken parmigiana all the way for me!

A Schenectady spot for Italian since 1974 is Ferrari’s Ristorante. For an appetizer, I love the Antipasto Italiano with its mix of prosciutto, provolone, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, capicola, and anchovies. My favorite entrée at Ferrari’s is the eggplant parmigiano.

DeAngelo’s Ristorante has a delicious dish I really enjoy—Chicken Ann Marie, made from chicken cutlets topped with mozzarella, cheddar and broccoli over rice.

What’s Valentine’s Day without flowers? Here are some local florists who will be busy filling thousands of floral orders for this holiday.

Bella Fleur Florist has a special selection of Valentine’s bouquets, roses, flower arrangements and plants as well as non-floral gifts including chocolates, cookies, stuffed animals and candles.

Frank Gallo & Son Florist is a family business that has been serving the community’s floral needs since 1920 and has a history of supplying flowers for some high-profile places, including the White House.

Flowers by Randolph has a whole collection of “flowers for love and romance” featuring traditional offerings and colors with some unique blue and white arrangements as well. This florist sells gift baskets and balloons, too.

If you want to present a gift to your love, here are some places to find a variety of unique items.

Faddegon’s Nursery, which has been around for over a century, has, in addition to plants, a gift shop with home décor items, jewelry, and garden products. They also offer gift cards.

You can find a cornucopia of gifts at Blue Bird Home Décor, which mixes the new with the vintage. The shop sells home décor items, handmade jewelry, original artwork, body care items and handmade cards.

HomeGoods carries anything your special one might desire, including seasonal decorations and accents as well as home décor and furnishings in a wide variety of styles to suit any taste.

For the fashionista, there are two unique local shops to peruse. Vasi Boutique brings together carefully selected clothing and accessories based on the latest emerging fashion trends. At Lola Saratoga with its “something old, something new” mantra, there is a collection of curated designer consignment clothing as well as top trending contemporary accessories to go with them.

Wherever and however you spend it, Happy Valentine’s Day!