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Pot au Feu claims to be America's oldest French bistro, it was opened in 1972 and whether its claim to fame is true or not, the menu is filled with items that are exclusively from Lorraine, Grenoble, Provence, Paris and elsewhere in l'Hexagone. The menu isn't a compilation or fusion of modern, innovative and trendy dishes, it is unabashedly French. With hors d'oeuvres like escargot, lobster bisque, onion soup, the delectable Paté Maison (chicken liver mousse) or traditional Terrines, it feels as if the Left Bank is right outside the door. Of course, Pot au Feu (roast beef stew) is served with a side of warm crusty bread, creamy horseradish mustard and cornichons. Other classics include crepes, steak frites and the sometimes difficult to find, Coquilles St. Jacques.
If you want a classic romantic night which involves dinner and a show, then Gracie's and the nearby Trinity Repertory Company make a great combination. This AAA-four diamond restaurant features ingredients from local farms and fisheries as well as its own rooftop garden in order to bring the bountiful harvest of New England to diners' plates. There are two tasting menus, one is five courses, the other seven and both offer wine pairing as an option. The tasting menus as well as the prix-fixe ones present plates that vary according to season.
Camille's has served specialties from Italy since 1914 on the edge of Federal Hill, the city's major Italian neighborhood. The kitchen makes plates that are hard to find anywhere else in town, like the melt-in-your-mouth tuna carpaccio or the crisp spinach and melon salad served with pancetta and goat cheese in a creamy apple-cider vinaigrette. The kitchen also has the freshest pollo (chicken), carne (meat) and frutti di mare (seafood) this side of New York City. The atmosphere is quiet, low-key elegance where diners have their choice of dining in the modern lounge or in the main dining room. The main room contains frescoes and other works of art as well as alcoves and bigger tables for groups.
Al Forno has is a nice little nondescript gem in the Fox Point neighborhood. It's hidden in a warehouse type structure along South Main Street and the ambiance is quiet and casually romantic. The owners have published a couple of cookbooks and they present all the regions of Italy on diners' plates, from Reggio-Calabria to Campania. Their wood-grilled pizza and clam appetizers are very popular as well as their fresh fish and pasta dinners. An impressive selection of 250 wines completes the menu and the service is impeccable.