A friend is coming to dinner within the next two months. I'd like to make him a memorable romantic dinner that won't break my budget. I'd like to keep my budget between $30-40 for appetizer, main and dessert. I have plenty of wine so that is covered (Lodi Zinfandels). His tastes are pretty eclectic and is pretty much an omnivore. He's taken cooking classes and likes to cook. I want to stay away from Latin inspired food as he has spent a lot of time in Central America. I know he likes Italian food a lot. Not sure if he likes Thai or Chinese so I'd prefer to stay away from Asian food until I know if he likes like it. I live in No. California and can go to farmer's markets (though they don't have highly specialized ingredients here like L.A. or the Bay Area). I have a great Mediterranean market nearby as well as TJ's, Grocery Outlet and Whole Foods. My larder has a small amount of dried porcini mushrooms, Israeli couscous, plain couscous, quinoa, long cooking polenta and farro. I own a slow cooker, George Foreman grill (condo doesn't allow barbecues), cusinart FP, Kitchen Aid stand mixer w/no attachments, stick blender and traditional blender. Other considerations: I'd like to do as much ahead of time as possible, just in case I am coming home from work or if he is on a tight schedule. Lastly, I don't like risotto. Some of the cookbooks I own: Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Essentials of Itailian Cooking,How to Cook Everything, All About Braising, Spice by Anna Sortun, and The Last Course: Gramercy Tavern Desserts. Though I have few ideas mulling around in my head I need fresh ideas, he really appreciates a home cooked meal as well as the work and thought that is put into it. I am really looking forward to cooking for someone so receptive (and nice of course!). Thank you in advance.