On Valentine’s Day, hearts are the predominant symbol. Give your love a heart-shaped box of chocolates or heart-shaped pendant and he or she will love you forever. Mouth something like "I love you with all my heart," and the positive response is immediate. As the holiday approaches, schoolchildren exchange heart-shaped valentines, while popping heart-shaped candies, and restaurants festoon their premises with red foil hearts to get everyone in the mood. But if the couple in love are foodies, why not carry this symbol one step further, and treat each other to a meal of actual hearts? To assist you in this enterprise, here are some dishes we’ve encountered in restaurants featuring the muscular organ of love. (Some may not be currently available, so call ahead.)
Stews and Hash
Located in remote eastern edge of Queens in Glen Oaks, four-star Pakistani chop shop Bundu Khan mixes goat hearts into a delectable organ meat hash called kat-a-kat, seasoning it with a powerful masala. (No, there’s no cat in there!) 25319 Union Turnpike, Queens, (718) 343-0666.
The Flushing hot pot hot spot called Happy Family offers northern Chinese cold-weather stews that you cook yourself in a bubbling cauldron — very romantic! What could be better than ordering all the hearts on the menu — lamb, beef, pork, and chicken — and cooking them all together? 36-35 Main St, Queens, (718) 358-6667.
Upper East Side Czech gastropub Hospoda makes as a special a bacon-flavored stew of beef hearts that it pours over the spongy white-bread dumplings called knedlicky. 321 East 73rd St, (212) 861-1038.
Tartares and ceviche
Danny Bowien has been playing with hearts ever since Mission Cantina opened, using the organ raw in ceviches. The one we liked best paired veal heart with scallops, strewn with serrano chiles to make your love even hotter. 172 Orchard St, (212) 254-2233.
On a menu that changes constantly, at M. Wells Dinette chef Hugue Dufour often favors hearts — in this case a tartare of veal heart and trumpet mushrooms. MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave, (718) 786-1800.
Cannibal sometimes makes a wonderful beef heart tartare. This quirky place with a great beer list also mixes beef heart into the chili that goes on top of the Cannibal dog. 113 E 29th St, 212-686-5480.
Conveniently located right on Queens Boulevard, Silk Road teahouse Café Arzu specializes in charcoal-grilled kebabs like they do ‘em in Uzbekistan, including skewered chicken hearts cooked over charcoal. Seeing so many on the skewer is something of a shock. 101-05 Queens Blvd, Queens, (718) 830-3335.
Really, any Peruvian restaurant you stumble into is likely to have anticuchos, the country's favorite street-food snack consisting of sizable hunks of beef heart seared over charcoal. Peruvian gastropub Jora has some of the best, and some killer pisco sours, too. 47-46 11th St, Queens, (718) 392-2033.
The chicken hearts at Cobble Hill’s La Vara are served Gibraltar style, crusted with caraway and coriander seeds and served with a salad made entirely of herbs, like the Romans once did it. 268 Clinton St, Brooklyn, (718) 422-0065.
Japanese robata-yas — drinking establishments that cook delicate skewers of meat, poultry, and vegetables over lump charcoal — often specialize in obscure chicken parts like neck and cartilage, and the Lower East Side’s Yakitori Tora is no exception. Don’t miss their take on the chicken heart kebab, which many birds died in the making of. 72 Kenmare St, 212-966-1100.