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Eating sexy: Varanese Valentine’s dinner features lavish love feast with ‘aphrodisiac menu’


Chef John Varanese indulges in a cheeky romance scene during a 2010 episode of his TV show, Big World of Food.

Who needs the Barry White 8-track on Valentine’s Day when there’s food to fuel the fires of romance?

That’s the thinking, anyway, at Varanese Restaurant, 2106 Frankfort Ave., where the annual Aphrodisiac Menu is set for service on Feb. 14.

And given that that’s a Monday, the grumpiest day of the work/school week, romance will need all the help it can get.

On the menu are some of the usual suspects, such as oysters, chocolate and asparagus. But this year’s offering contains a few I never knew bore the essence of eros: broccoli rabe, saffron and basil among them.

(Perhaps I need to consider food less a tool for feeling full than one for feeling frisky? We’ll leave the answer up to my wife.)

What’s certain is there’s no shortage of solid choices in the lineup, regardless of whether you’re looking for lovin’ or just in the mood for a good chow-down.

  • Jumbo fried oysters with mustard remoulade and chipotle sauce garnished with micro cilantro—$10
  • Hearts of romaine, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm dressed by Gorgonzola cheese, grape tomatoes, toasted Almonds and strawberry vinaigrette—$7
  • Baked beef tenderloin Crostini topped with caramelized onions and Boursin cheese—$7
  • Grilled certified Angus beef tenderloin served with brie and truffle twice-baked potato tower and grilled asparagus finished with a Cabernet and thyme Hollandaise—$30
  • Pan seared Hawaiian butterfish (Walu) served with broccoli rabe and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes finished with Romesco sauce—$30
  • Lobster ravioli and grilled diver scallops tossed with arugula and oyster Mmushrooms with a savory saffron-lobster butter sauce garnished with truffled ribbon potatoes—$30
  • Grilled certified Angus bone-in strip steak served over creamy potatoes with bacon and leeks, zesty fried Brussels sprouts and a veal reduction—$35
  • Banana, chocolate and peanut butter bread pudding served with Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream—$7

Want a seat (or two, hopefully) for this love feast? Call 899-9904 or make your reservation online by clicking here.

More about aphrodisiacs: Here are a few foods believed to boost the ol’ mojo, courtesy of Varanese.

Chocolate – Contains central nervous system stimulants that make people feel better;  Rumor has it that Montezuma drank 50 cups of chocolate every day to boost his virility so that he could keep up with his harem of 600 women!; Some ancient monks were forbidden to eat chocolate because of it’s potential to initiate sexual thoughts.

Tomatoes – The French believed tomatoes to be love apples; some historians believe that the original forbidden fruit in the bible was actually the tomato.

Strawberries – Associated with romance because of it’s abundance of seeds on each piece of fruit making it very fertile; it is also light on the palate to keep the minds and bodies of the romantic alert and active.

Truffles – Scent is similar to the human male sex hormone; they are also rare and expensive which adds to their allure.

Broccoli rabe – The ground seeds of various plants in the brassica family were believed to increase virility.

Basil (sweet basil) – Stimulates the sex drive and boosts fertility.  It also produces a general sense of well being.

Almond – A symbol of fertility throughout the ages.  The aroma is thought t induce passion in a female.

Saffron – Used as a stimulant or inebriant depending on dosage.  Sun dried filaments ingested stimulates sexual desires for women.  Essential oil evokes long, distinctive organs.

Oysters – Oysters were documented as an aphrodisiac food by the Romans in the second century A.D. as mentioned in a satire by Juvenal.  He described the wanton ways of women after ingesting wine and eating “giant oysters”.  An additional Hypothesis is that the oyster resembles the “females” genitals.  In reality oysters are a very nutritious and high in protein.

Champagne – Viewed as the “Drink of Love” an elixir that in moderate quantities lowers inhibitions and cause a warm glow in the body.

Wine – A glass of wine or two can greatly enhance a romantic interlude. Wine relaxes and helps to stimulate our senses. Drinking wine can be an erotic experience. Let your eyes feast on the color of the liquid. Caress the glass, savor the taste on your lips.


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