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Another Taste of North Side

After getting plenty of requests for dine-in service, the catering and takeout company Tastebuds at 4023 MacArthur Ave. has added a small cafe for lunch and dinner.

Lunch includes salads, pastas and sandwiches, with house-made soups, personal pizzas and signature desserts. The dinner menu changes weekly and might include such items as spicy Sicilian chicken with roasted potatoes; meat loaf; fish and vegetable stew in fennel broth; shrimp and chorizo quesadilla; and a range of soups and appetizers at moderate prices.

Luncheon is served Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dinner is available the same evenings, and takeout is an option if the 10-seat dining area is filled. It is a smoke-free establishment.

Chefs Andrew and Valentina Wisniewski are well-known among the food crowd in North Side and beyond, and they are favorites on the party circuit for their fresh, creative preparations. 261-6544.

When Food = Love

Almost every restaurant in town will be serving dinner on Valentine's Day, hoping their patrons will think far enough ahead to make reservations so they can manage the inevitable surge of couples. Here are some options spanning a range of cuisines and styles:

City Limit offers a couple's menu, with prices starting at $45 and featuring wine, entrées and dessert for two. 7007 Three Chopt Road in the Village Shopping Center. 282-4232.

Valentine Richmond History Center takes folks on a "Love Bus" starting with champagne and chocolates, a tour featuring Richmond's historic love stories (John and Elizabeth Wickham, John and Polly Marshall) and a dinner at Richbrau Brewing Company. $100 per person, $190 per couple. Reservations required by Feb. 9. 649-0711 ext. 301.

La Petite France presents a five-course meal with champagne, featuring the cuisine of Chef Abel Lucca, whose work in high-profile restaurants from New Orleans to Puerto Rico is well-regarded. Choices include beef Wellington and lobster thermidor. $80 per person. Reservations at 353-8729.

Avenue 805 stretches the holiday to The Six Days of Valentine's, with a five-course menu of aphrodisiacs including artichokes, chocolate and oysters. Feb 12-17. $70 per couple, or for an additional $40 per couple, chef-selected wines to accompany each course. Tax and tip extra. Reservations at 353-2505 or avenue805@aol.com.

Manakin Grill offers a $42-per-person, three-course dinner with choices including its famous coconut shrimp and crab cakes, she-crab soup, pecan chicken, grilled ahi tuna and filet mignon. Menu and details at www.manakingrill.com. Phone reservations at 784-0544.

Café Gutenberg recognizes that not everyone celebrates Feb. 14 with the same level of enthusiasm. Hence, couples can dine upstairs amid roses, candlelight and a skyline view; others can enjoy a return of "Valentine- Shmalentine" downstairs with drink specials and diversions. See www.cafegutenberg.com for details.

Fuel Co. in Charlottesville serves a prix-fixe dinner for $65, with oyster and caviar, wild sea bass, grilled rack of lamb with risotto, and dessert by Serge Torres. 434-220-3700. S

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