My Best Valentine’s Dinner Ever

In January 2009, I was laid off from my job. A lot of people were. I wasn’t alone. But it did come as a surprise. My car entirely and irreparably broke down that same week. It felt like a blow upon blow. 

I had only been married for a couple of years. We were still in that awkward-cute honeymoon phase where we were crazy about each other but also still figuring out how to live together and build a life. I called my husband Greg, crying on the way home, and he assured me it would be OK.

A couple of weeks later, I was sitting at home filling out job applications, and my husband walked in during the middle of the day. I immediately knew something was wrong. “It’s my turn too, I guess,” he said. And so, in late January, we found ourselves both unemployed. We were totally inexperienced in navigating big hard things as a couple. And this was big and scary. 

Valentine’s Day arrived just a couple of weeks later. I wasn’t planning on celebrating; we had no money to spare. Plus, I was the opposite of festive, caught in a winter vortex of stress and sadness. 

I spent Valentine’s Day pounding the pavement looking for a job. That evening, I was sitting at home on the couch after a discouraging day, and in walked Greg with a pizza. Not just any pizza, but a gimmicky, heart-shaped pepperoni pizza. He spent just about his last dime to get me something for Valentine’s Day. 

It wasn’t much. But it was straight from the heart, totally unexpected, totally unwatched for, and all the more meaningful for it. We sat on the floor of our old downtown apartment, ate pizza, talked, and somehow the day was better. I’m certain food can sometimes feed the soul more than the body. I felt both nourished and loved.

I will never forget that pizza. To this day, it is the best Valentine’s dinner I’ve ever had. And in the end, everything did turn out better than okay. Just like I was promised.

Looking for your own heart-shaped pizza? It looks like Papa John’s is still making them for Valentine’s Day. 

Looking for some other romantic dinner options or activities for Valentine’s? Here are our recommendations. 

See more stories like this and all of our food and drink coverage. And while you’re here, why not subscribe and get six annual issues of Salt Lake magazine’s curated guide to the best of life in Utah. 

Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinez is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. She has written for Salt Lake Magazine, Suitcase Foodist, and Utah Stories. She is a reluctantly stationary nomad who mostly travels to eat great food. She is a sucker for anything made with lots of butter and has been known to stay in bed until someone brings her coffee. Do you have food news? Send tips to

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