Restaurant News & Reviews

Best Bite: Restaurants that spark romance for Valentine’s Day

Waitress Giselle Neumann holds a plate of bruschetta at D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano in 2011, when the restaurant won a Readers’ Choice award from The Bellingham Herald.
Waitress Giselle Neumann holds a plate of bruschetta at D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano in 2011, when the restaurant won a Readers’ Choice award from The Bellingham Herald. The Bellingham Herald

With Valentine’s Day just over two weeks away, Bellingham Herald readers who replied to various social media requests chose several local restaurants as their favorite for a romantic dinner for two.

Readers raved about D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano downtown, Giuseppe’s Al Porto Ristorante on the waterfront, and the bayside Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive for their ambiance, menus and service. Readers also mentioned the Steak House at the Silver Reef Casino, plus several restaurants in Fairhaven, saying that the historic district exudes romantic charm. They recommended Keenan’s at the Pier in Fairhaven, which will be offering a special prix fixe Valentine’s Day menu; the recently reopened Black Cat in Fairhaven; and Skylark’s Hidden Cafe, a Fairhaven fixture for years.

For dessert, frequent Bellingham visitor Mark Van Maren says: “Mallard Ice Cream. Requires no explanation.”


“Oh yes, D’Anna’s is fantastic!” says Samantha Rorabaugh of Sudden Valley.

Some readers liked the ambiance and some enjoyed the sense of privacy amid the bustle of this intimate little space. Everyone raved about the menu, which features innovative Italian dishes such as Shiitake Vodka Cream Linguini, Sicilian Sausage Manicotti and Aglio E Olio, which at D’Anna’s is spaghetti sauced with olive oil, garlic and walnuts.

Trang Hartlieb of Bellingham agrees.

“Hands down, it’s D’Anna’s Italian restaurant. I’ve been here twice now and both times, the food is out of this world. Last time, I got the lamb chops. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fluffy buttery potato gnocchi.”


At Giuseppe’s Al Porto Ristorante you’ll find pasta dishes like Spaghettini con Cappesante, featuring seared scallops with tomato, garlic, spinach and pine nuts; Rigatoni Calabrese; a seafood-laden Cioppino Isola Bella; or a Bolognese that features beef and local Hempler’s pork sausage.

“It is exquisite. The food is extraordinary and the service is impeccable and it is very clean there and you can see the cooking being done,” said Richard Darden of Sudden Valley.

“(Giuseppe’s) is my favorite for Valentine’s Day,” says Lily Salas of Sudden Valley. “You can tell when you walk in that it’s going to be special. They made us feel like we were the most important guests of the night and the food was divine.”

Steak House

“We love the Steak House at the Silver Reef as an occasional kid-free treat. Love the ambiance, the food is amazing (Steak Diane!!) as is the service,” says Samantha Rorabaugh of Bellingham.

“Excellent service in an elegant setting,” says Marcy Rekunyk of Bellingham.

The Oyster Bar

“When we want to splurge: The Oyster Bar along Chuckanut Drive,” says Anna Carlson of Sudden Valley.

“First, you have to go there via Chuckanut Drive, which is, imho, quite the mood starter to begin with,” says Beverly Chase-Dawkins of Bellingham. “We like to sit downstairs and watch the sun go down. The views are gorgeous. The staff is always pleasant, not overbearing. The food is marvelous. They don’t have cooks, they have chefs and the wine selection is great.”

Cafe Rumba

Jane Ringe of Sudden Valley raves about Cafe Rumba, a Peruvian deli across the street from the Herald Building.

“Going there is like going home — there’s a real warmth to the place,” she says. “Aside from the friendly staff, the food is always fresh and delicious. My favorite is the Peruvian Asada Sangucheria with Papasconaji Escabeche on the side. It’s Antonio’s special tender beef served on a French roll with all kinds of yummy stuff, served with potatoes and a unique hot salsa.”

Robert Mittendorf: 360-715-2805,, @bhamMitty