Date (Over)Night Done Two Ways

A delicious date night meal in at home by C, all thanks to fresh Italian ingredients courtesy of Monte Carlo Deli and Pinocchio Restaurant in Burbank, CA.

As anyone who’s had a child knows, time one-on-one with our ADULT significant other becomes harder and harder to come by, but for many reasons (some of which I won’t mention here, though I am sure you can imagine) we still absolutely require it for our own well-being. Whether it’s the prohibitive cost of babysitters (whatever happened to hiring the girl next door for a pizza and a rented movie and a few dollars?!), the actual availability of said sitters (and when did finding a sitter become so damn difficult – not to mention the ways that our friends tend to hoard the best ones for themselves… come on, share the wealth, RMT’ers!), or just busy, jam-packed calendars, it can be quite hard to plan a standing and regular “date night” to keep up your relationship with your partner sans kids in tow.

A glass of Ommegang Brewery's Three Philosophers Belgian Quadrupel, just one of the award-winning microbrews on draw at the Tap Room in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego.

I will admit that C and I have yet to leave T with a paid babysitter for a date night. I think some of that is due to the cost (having to build in an additional $40+ on top of a budget for just going out to dinner and drinks for three hours, really?!), but most of it has to do with the fact that we are very lucky to have family close-by that can watch T for when we do plan the occasional date night. So why would we go with a paid third-party sitter when we have willing (and free!) family to step up and help us out? Also, because of where our folks live, we also get to have two types of date nights: An overnight out-of-town and the overnight at home. Yes, overnight. Like I said, we don’t get the regular, standing date night, so when we do get the opportunity, we tend to just go for it.

Two #10 cans of San Marzano tomatoes C picked up at Monte Carlo Deli so he could cook up some homemade sauce for our date weekend in at home.

I honestly don’t know which of the two types of date overnights I enjoy more. I mean, don’t get me wrong, getting away from home for a night is absolutely love-ly, but there’s also something about being at home with C and without T that is seriously relaxing and enjoyable. I’ve written about date night at home before, but there are times we do just sit, chill, and revel in the downtime the entire time rather than power through the honey-do lists. The quiet time together at home also takes us back to the pre-T days in the house when we could enjoy a lovely meal at home while sipping glass after glass (and bottle after bottle) of delicious wine. We also regain complete control our television set and music choices without complaint (amen!), along with the ability to complete a conversation without constant interruption (hallelujah!).

Monte Carlo Deli and its in-house restaurant, Pinocchio, at the corner of Magnolia and Fairview in Burbank, CA, is a must for foodies and cooks who love authentic Italian fare.

On this most recent date-night-in and after we dropped T with his grandparents, we headed to Monte Carlo Deli and Pinocchio Restaurant in Burbank (CA) for some mealtime  necessities. If you find yourselves anywhere near this place and haven’t been, RMT’ers, park the car and get in there. This is an Italian-style hot-cold delicatessen grocery shop with a restaurant in-house. My advice is to have lunch or dinner first then go shop, otherwise you will end up spending hundreds of dollars in the store because everything looks and truly is that good. While we live 40+ miles away from Monte Carlo, C’s parents are about a 15-minute drive away, so anytime we are visiting we now make it a habit to stop in for groceries and more often than not a meal, too.

Just a small sample of what's offered at Pinocchio Restaurant, located inside of Monte Carlo Deli in Burbank, CA. It's a lunch-line style cafeteria that serves up hot and cold items that are either ready-made or cooked-to-order depending on your choice.

A close-up of the deli meat and cheese offerings inside of Monte Carlo Deli in Burbank, CA.

C surveys the counter inside of Monte Carlo Deli in Burbank, CA. This isn't a busy day at all as it's normal to wait a few turns before ordering. Don't forget to take a number, RMT'ers!

Got pasta? Monte Carlo Deli does and in all kinds of cuts and shapes. Very fun for date night and kids alike!

And what Italian meal is complete without dolce?! Monte Carlo doesn't disappoint, offering several dozen choices of cookies, pastries, and candies.

This gorgeous gelato counter greets customers as they enter Monte Carlo Deli and Pinocchio Restaurant. I can't vouch for it just yet as every time we go either we're going to be driving too long to get it home without it melting, or I am just too full to get a dish on-site! Please taste and report back if you have some, OK RMT'ers?!

This time, C chose a lovely pair of veal cutlets along with a few meatballs from the case to cook up and serve under his homemade sauce. Yes, C simmered a pot of homemade marinara to kick off date weekend. One word for all of this: Yum. We also enjoyed cold-cut sandwiches the next day for lunch, which were composed of mortadella (the good stuff with pistachios), capicolla, provolone, and Monte Carlo’s signature fresh-cut tomato dressing atop their fresh sandwich rolls. Yes, we pretty much ate and drank close to the entire time T was out of the house; it reminded us of being in Italy, and it was awesome.

C and I enjoyed this lovely blues performance while taking in a happy hour at The Turquoise in Pacific Beach (San Diego). Nothing sad about that, RMT'ers!

But back to the overnight out-of-town… because overnight date nights usually land us in nearby San Diego, yes, those are pretty awesome, too. Whether it’s the different areas of town that we can explore as a couple or the different areas where we can stay (fun downtown or quiet beach?), we can change it up depending on what kind of trip we want to have.

Our room with a view of downtown San Diego during a recent date overnight. We stayed at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina near the airport on a great deal C received via email from Starwood Hotels and Resorts. With this one stay we'll get another stay free at any Starwood member hotel through the end of 2012. Thanks, Starwood!

The menu wall at Tap Room in Pacific Beach (San Diego). I'll raise a glass to that!

The Turquoise in Pacific Beach (San Diego) offers an absinthe menu. Not many places serve absinthe let alone a selection of varieties, so needless to say C was a happy drinker!

This last time, we stayed near the airport with a lovely view over downtown (thanks, Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina and Starwood Preferred Guest!), but despite our proximity to downtown we chose instead to head into Pacific Beach for drinks and dinner. C used to live in nearby Crown Point and I lived in San Diego in my 20s, so PB was a regular haunt for both of us both when we were single then after we started dating. We got some good laughs seeing that some of the old standbys were still in business and looking the same as ever (PB Bar and Grill anyone?!), but were pleasantly surprised to discover some new-to-us places that we only wish were there 10+ years ago (Tap Room for its awesome local brew-pub selection, and The Turquoise for its tapas and live music nightly). All in all, another lovely date time had by us both!

So when’s your next date night, RMT’ers? Even if they are hard to come by time- and/or money-wise, make it a goal to budget one in by Memorial Day, if not sooner and more frequently. Even if you can’t swing an overnight, start out with dinner and a movie or drinks. You and your honey won’t be sorry, and your kiddos will have a fun and parent-free night, too. Cheers all-around, RMT’ers!

One response to “Date (Over)Night Done Two Ways

  1. Pingback: Pocket Pies Provide Perfect Portion Sizes (and Perfectly Portioned Pee-Wee Meals!) | Real Mom Time (RMT)

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