Valentine's Day: Relieve stress, hunger

February 9, 2011 10:07:09 AM PST
If chocolates and roses seem too cliche for Valentine's Day, ABC7's Hungry Hound recommends a massage and a meal.

There are several Mario Tricoci salons scattered throughout the Chicago area -- but only one is downtown. So if you are planning on treating your urban valentine to some spa services, now would be the time to make that appointment.

"We definitely service a lot of couples together coming in for Valentine's Day, specifically, then also people coming in just to buy their significant other a gift cause it's just a really, really nice way to treat someone for Valentine's Day," said Amanda Schmige, the Manager of Mario Tricoci downtown.

Their masseuses are legendary, having logged many years kneading and pressing sore and tired muscles. All that pampering will probably make you hungry.

"We do provide lunches here and light spa food, but we're right downtown in the middle of some fabulous eating areas, so you'd have a lot of choices for some nice restaurants around here," said Schmige.

Just a block away, Cafe Spiaggia is the answer. The more casual, affordable sibling to Spiaggia, this Gold Coast cafe features plenty of Italian classics.

"It is casual and it's romantic. I mean, really this is sort of a recreation of an old home in Montua called the Camera degli Sposi, which basically means a marriage house. So there's this old house in Montava and all of these renderings on the wall are from that particular house," said Chef Tony Mantuano.

A composed beet and goat cheese salad is dressed with crunchy pistachios and fresh basil while a hearty bucatini pasta dish is enriched with guanciale - that's pork cheek - plus vibrant tomato sauce and fresh, salty pecorino romano cheese. Their wood-roasted steak - tagliata - arrives sliced, served with toothsome borlatti beans and a hefty, crusty side of potatoes. Mantuano says the food and the atmosphere make romance a snap.

"I don't think there's anything more romantic than Italy, the home of Romeo and Juliet. And, I mean everything about Italy; the way people speak, the language it's beautiful it's romantic, I mean...all Italian things are romantic in my book," Mantuano said.

Reservations recommended for both places.

Mario Tricocci
900 N Michigan Ave

Cafe Spiaggia
980 N Michigan Ave