NJPAC is in a city with hundreds of restaurants, so live entertainment and food are highly compatible. No matter what your plans are for Valentine’s Day, you’d better have tickets in advance, recheck dates and times, and reserve early for this dining destination weekend second only to Mother’s Day.

Visitors to the Arts Center know they don’t have to go farther than the lobby to find creative cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, and pre-performance buzz at NICO Kitchen + Bar. In the following scenarios, however, Destination Newark and NJPAC play matchmaker by connecting NJPAC attractions to something cookin’ in the area:

#1 – Toni Braxton and Marcus B&P

Avoid this year’s February 15-17 crunch by celebrating on February 8, when NJPAC co-produces a concert featuring Toni -Braxton, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, and SWV at the Prudential Center (The Rock). Braxton’s As Long As I Live Tour promises plenty of ultra-smooth R&B, which warrants a restaurant with a high degree of cool. Try the Southern -specialties at Marcus B&P, celebrity chef Marcus -Samuelsson’s chic establishment in the Hahne & Co. building.

Valentine"s Day Comedy

#2 – A-List Comedians and BBQ

On Valentine’s Day itself, Michael Blackson, John Witherspoon, Luenell, Smokey Suarez, along with the evening’s host Bill Bellamy will be dishing out the laughs at NJPAC as part of the Valentine’s All-Star Comedy Show. Then, on February 16, Emmy-winning comic Russell Peters brings his Deported World Tour to Prudential Hall.

Get a serious “ribbing” from the grill at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

Patti LaBelle and Freddie Jackson

#3 – Patti LaBelle and ‘Blues’

Philadelphia’s Grammy-winning Patti LaBelle, who returns to NJPAC on February 15, knows soul. Her appearance with special guest Freddie Jackson calls for pre-show helpings of feel-good kitchen favorites. Savor the soul rolls stuffed with kale, sweet potato, and black-eyed peas at Eleven Clinton Smothered Blues, or dig into the health-conscious comfort food at Vonda’s Kitchen.

Patrizio Buanne

#4 – Patrizio Buanne and Bella Notte

Also on February 15, Patrizio Buanne, the ambassador of romantic Italian songs, brings The Special Valentine’s Day Show to the Victoria Theater. Celebrating amore over a superb dinner comes naturally to proprietors of time-honored Italian restaurants throughout Greater Newark, like Luigi’s in the North Ward.

Maurice Hines

#5 – Maurice Hines and Fine Wines

Think of seductive songs like “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Now think of “fizzy” and “bubbly.” Nothing goes together quite like the Great American Songbook and wine, especially sparkling wine. In two shows on February 16, the ever-sophisticated tapper Maurice Hines performs standards like those and tells his story in Tappin’ Thru Life, backed by the all-female DIVA Orchestra.

An oasis on Newark’s bustling Ferry Street, Adega Grill, whose name comes from the Portuguese for “wine cellar,” offers a “wow” selection of wines and Champagnes in its cushy lounges and dining areas. 

For tickets to NJPAC events, visit njpac.org or call 1-888-GO-NJPAC (466-5722).

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