Dine Smart, Valentine!

Valentine's Day falling on a Saturday means more lovers looking to dine out and more restaurants switching to expensive prix-fixe menus. Here's how to open your heart without giving away your wallet.

The Strip House at the Westminster Hotel, Livingston

The Gables in Beach Haven, will take a break from its winter break and open for the holiday weekend. That means fine dining in an elegantly-appointed Victorian inn. Packages available for a weekend-long stay by the sea. (entrees,$34-$50; prix fixe, $75) 212 Centre Street, 609-492-3553, gableslbi.com

Grissini in Englewood Cliffs will offer an abridged version of its regular Italian menu, including heart-shaped ravioli. Each table will receive complimentary chocolate-dipped strawberries. (entrees, $18-$42) 484 Sylvan Avenue, 201-568-3535, grissinirestaurant.com

Le Malt in Colonia, a brown spirits and wine lounge that opened last fall, is offering an expanded tapas menu for its first Valentine’s Day. Reservations required. (tapas, $6-$18; six-course tasting with Scotches, wines and cocktails, $115) 1021 St. Georges Avenue, 732-510-7700, lemalt.com

Pilsener Haus and Biergarten in Hoboken will present its third annual F*@k Valentine’s Day event. Every guest receives half a playing card at the door. You can feast on wursts and other Bavarian fare while searching for the person who holds the matching half to your card. If you find the mate, both of you must bring your matched card to the bar and, the restaurant says, "do what is requested." Whatever that means! If you pass the test, you each get a free beer. (entrees, $13-$26) 1422 Grand Street, 201-683-5465, pilsenerhaus.com

Samba Montclair will offer its a la carte Brazilian menu plus Valentine’s Night specials. “Expect pomegranates," says owner Ilson Goncalves. "Brazilians believe pomegranates bring good luck when eaten this time of year.” (entrees, $18.95-$24.95) 7 Park Street, 973-744-6764, montclairsamba.com

St. Moritz in Sparta will offer all its regular items, like shrimp n’ grits, jumbo scallops and white chocolate sauce, as well as specials. After dinner the popular dance band Captains of Leisure will provide cheek-to-cheek music. (entrees, $16.99-$29.99) 9 White Deer Plaza, 973-729-5677, stmoritzgrill.com

Strip House in Livingston, while offering its regular a la carte steak house menu, will offer a special menu that includes caramelized onion soup, Dijon-and-herb-crusted prime rib and Alaskan king crab. For dessert, indulge in fried s’mores or the Strip House’s acclaimed 24-layer chocolate cake. ($24-$49) 550 West Mount Pleasant Avenue, 973-548-0050, striphousenewjersey.com

The Walpack Inn in Wallpack Center presents you with a romantic drive through rural Sussex County to reach its front door. Enjoy its classic American fare, housemade breads and fresh-baked pies and cakes. (entrees, $24-$32) Route 615, 973-948-3890, thewalpackinn.com

SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.

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