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I know it seems like a long time away, but if you’re hoping to take your sweetheart out for dinner at one of Naples’ most romantic restaurants, you have to start planning now. Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest restaurant days of the year.

Of course everyone’s idea of romance is different, but a quiet atmosphere, an attractive view, soft music and candlelight are all elements I look for when recommending a romantic restaurant. For me it also means a professional attentive serving staff, no big boisterous parties at the next table and no children running around underfoot.

Here are a few smaller restaurants with romantic atmosphere that you may not have heard of yet.

Mereday’s Fine Dining opened at Naples Bay Resort this summer. This spot has been at least two other restaurants in the last few years but chef Charles Mereday is working hard to create a unique restaurant concept for Naples. His prix-fixe menu features unusual items and preparations.

This is a beautiful, elegant space and not a meal to be rushed.

Veranda E is a very small, beautiful restaurant in the equally beautiful Escalante Hotel in Old Naples. This tiny hotel hides on one of the busiest corners in Naples, behind a wall of greenery. Veranda E is an Asian-inspired restaurant nestled in the garden next to the hotel pool.

Executive chef Michael Kang was lured out of retirement last year and has created a menu with some of the most amazing dishes in Naples.

Wyld’s Café in Bonita Springs doesn’t have any curb appeal (at all) but it’s actually a lovely romantic restaurant on the inside. Sitting in a very unromantic strip plaza on Bonita Beach Road, just disregard the outside and park around back. The main entrance is located on the back parking lot.

Big strong flavors and larger portions make this restaurant a favorite of lots of men I know.

Preston’s Steakhouse may be Naples’ smallest and most elegant restaurant. This is a dress up nice, no jeans, no shorts classic steakhouse that is the pick for many Neapolitans on all special occasions – significant birthdays, anniversaries and especially Valentine’s Day.

The steaks are cooked on the charcoal grill and are delicious, but I love the appetizers and side dishes as well, plus the homemade chocolate layer cake for dessert.

French restaurants are always a good choice for a romantic meal. There’s just something about the French and romance. There are a number of great French restaurants in Naples, but Bleu Provence and Le Lafayette, both in Old Naples, have the right combination of romantic atmosphere and great food. They are also both open for lunch if you can’t get a table at the dinner hour.

Cote D’Azur in North Naples is also a lovely romantic French restaurant, especially if you can get a booth along the side.