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Ask the Critic: Where Should I Go For My Anniversary Dinner?

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Lovebirds have been coming out of the woodwork! Two different pals recently asked me for recommendations on where to take their darling spouses to celebrate their anniversaries. 


My gut says Atlas Bistro. The South Scottsdale BYOB restaurant keeps a low profile, considering the caliber of the food here, which is why it's such an intimate spot for a romantic rendez-vous. You enter through the wine shop next door (AZ Wine Co.) and settle in at a cozy table in the minimalistic, dimly lit dining room, where you won't have any distractions from your sweetheart -- that is, until the food starts showing up, and then you'll both be dazzled. Chefs Joshua Riesner and Keenan Bosworth's cuisine is seasonal American fare with luxurious ingredients and exotic meats and seafood, and you can make an adventure out of it with a multi-course tasting menu. 


T. Cook's at the Royal Palms is another great place to celebrate L-U-V, although in this case the setting just oozes romance. Walking into the resort at night, when the Mediterranean-inspired grounds are illuminated, is dreamy, and the lounge adjacent to the restaurant is a stylish place to whisper sweet nothings over a cocktail. Dinner in the main dining room is served by an expert waitstaff who'll make you feel like VIPs, and chef Lee Hillson's cooking is so good it'll make you fall in love all over again -- think Dover sole, Maine lobster, or carbonara with prosciutto and pancetta.

Or how about Marcellino Ristorante Italiano? The upscale Italian eatery moved into SouthBridge last year, and the digs are to die for. Homemade pastas and meat and seafood entrees never disappoint, either (seduction should always be this easy). Chef Marcellino Verzino has a private chef's table for two -- a private nook right next to the chef's island -- if you're looking for the ultimate secluded dinner. Or, call to find out when the restaurant is hosting Opera Night, with exquisite live performances by members of the Arizona Opera. Whether you end the night on a high note, though, is up to you  . . .

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