If you’ve been to Charlottesville and its surrounding areas before, you know that this is one of the most romantic places in the US. We’ve got beautiful mountains nearby, gorgeous grounds around UVA, perfectly set wineries and craft breweries, an amazing pedestrian mall where you can take a romantic stroll, and many other hidden gems for you and your sweetheart to see and be a part of.

But even if you have not been to our lovely city, you may have heard about our amazing restaurants. The stat that we keep hearing is that we have the most restaurants per capita of any US city. The only data on this that we can find is from the Huffington Post a while back saying that we actually rank 14th on that list, but still, that’s a lot to choose from! So, if you are planning to come to or already be in Charlottesville for Valentine’s Day (or any special occasion) and are looking to have a romantic meal, how in the world do you decide where to go?

Never fear. We are here to help. Chances are that no matter where you go, you will have a great time, but there are some restaurants that seem to be a level above in the ‘romantic’ department. We have picked five that fit that bill based on ambiance, customer service, and delicious food, and will be sharing their stories with you on this blog over the next couple of weeks. Our first featured restaurant is Vivace!


It would be easy for me to go on for days about the delicious food at Vivace (calamari and chicken marsala to die for), or the amazing welcoming and friendly staff (Jeff, who usually greets you at the door, is more like family by the end of the meal), or the incredible warm feeling you get wherever you are seated (personally fond of anything upstairs). Those are the things that got them on this list. But, instead of me rambling on, I thought it would be great to hear about the restaurant from someone who knows it best, Co-Owner and Manager, Jeff Sobel.

Co-Owners Chef Landon Saul & Jeff Sobel

Me: What makes Vivace such a romantic place for couples to eat?
Jeff: Vivace is an old house on several levels, especially when the patio is open during nice weather. So, there are many private places for couples and friends to eat and drink and talk. There are booths upstairs that add to privacy, and many corners, and places to sit where even when busy, it is possible to converse privately. The patio also has many tables that are far enough from neighboring tables to afford privacy. And then there’s the bistro and the beautiful old weeping cherry tree that provides a curtain of leaves and flowers when in bloom that is a favorite spot for intimate dining and conversation. Our staff is attentive, but not invasive, and our customers are generally friendly and cool enough not to bother celebrities who visit. And couples rarely fight here because they are too busy chewing and saying sweet nothings like mmmm, and oooo and ahhhh and yummmm, and this is sooooo good.

Patio seating at Vivace

Me: How many marriage proposals have you seen happen there?
Jeff: Not sure how many marriage proposals we have had, but talking to my business partner and the former owner, at least a dozen or more, including the former owner and his former wife. But we do many rehearsal dinners here every year and couples come in all the time to celebrate their anniversary and say they had their rehearsal dinner here. Some come every year for their anniversary. There is a couple who got engaged here 21 years ago, she owns a hair salon and he works at UVa, and they come in every year to celebrate their anniversary. A wonderful, young couple who wandered in one day when they moved here for him to attend law school became friends and customers for special occasions and when their parents were in town and then, for his graduation, got engaged here. Everyone was involved with the plan, as it was a surprise. It involved some deceit and distraction and reserving the semi-private room, we call the ‘red room’ which seats 16, but on this occasion was just for 2, until family arrived to help celebrate. It went off perfectly and she said ‘yes’. They come back to visit when they have time, and it’s always a pleasure to see them (they are a very sweet, cute, young couple who we hope to hear from some day in about 20 years when a supreme court vacancy occurs).

Me: What was the most memorable table the restaurant has served?
Jeff: There have been some memorable tables here over the years for a variety of reasons, not all good. But as far as romance goes, there have been many first dates, blind dates, and chance meetings that have blossomed. One, in particular comes to mind: two friends of Vivace who came in regularly, but didn’t know each other, were introduced at the bar one night and started to date and are now happily married for several years. We have had our share of local celebrities, famous actors, writers, politicians, musicians, athletes and good people come in. I guess for me the most memorable table was on the afternoon of April Fools’ Day, 2015, when Tom and Beth Lippmann and Landon Saul and I were sitting at a table in the lounge, and we signed the papers to change the ownership of Vivace from Tom and Beth to Landon and Jeff. 

Vivace is now taking reservations for Valentine’s Day:

And Stay Charlottesville is offering a 15% off discount for our premier properties for Valentine’s Day and weekend.* Use code LOVECVILLE2019 at checkout. *Offer valid 2/13/2019 – 2/17/2019. Some restrictions apply. Not valid with other specials or discounts.



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