Why Not Feast on Animal Hearts for Valentine's Day?

Enjoy a romantic meal of the Peruvian cow heart kebabs called anticuchos at Lima Limon.

Let's face it. The tried-and-true methods of celebrating Valentine's Day have outlived their usefulness. A romantic restaurant? Forget it. The prices have been jacked up for awful prix fixe dinners, featuring things like sweet pink cocktails, cherry Jell-O, and heart-shaped cupcakes. Even if you decide to splurge, the noise level - often in excess of 90 decibels - prevents you from anything like romantic conversation. "I love you" sounds much better whispered than shouted.

Candy in a giant, heart-shaped box spells obesity in big chocolate letters to many. The symbolism may be appreciated, but the calories and refined sugar are not.

But stop and think for a minute. What kind of restaurant treats Valentine's Day as if it were any other day of the year? What kind of restaurant allows you to partake of the romantic symbolism of hearts without all the empty calories? Restaurants that serve animal hearts! Here are eight suggestions for a real foodie Valentine's Day dinner.

1. The barbecued beef-heart brochettes called anticuchos are a prominent street food in Lima. So head for Peruvian favorite Lima Limon for a superb version, served with a corn cob with humongous kernels (size matters!), boiled potatoes, and kick-ass hot sauce. If you want, you can also share the ceviche called Peruvian Viagra, too. 94-20 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, 718-651-5002

2. The logo at Happy Family in Flushing features a cuddly baby lamb with a bow in its hair, and guess what? The café specializes in lamb, including cumin-dusted kebabs of sheep heart, and - also in a romantic vein, if you're so inclined - testicles. 36-35 Main Street, Queens, 718-888-8748

3. Tierras Centro Americanas specializes in Guatemalan food, including revolcado, a thick, brown stew that conjoins an odd combination of meats in its savory depths: pork chunks and cow heart. 87-52 168th Street, Queens, 718- 206-1457

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