Dante is a new restaurant that’s not entirely a new restaurant. This space on MacDougal Street was home to Caffe Dante for over 100 years, only to recently close, much to the dismay of many Village residents who probably hate you because you are new here. Yes, even though you moved to the city in 2003.
The business has since been taken over by some Australians, and we’d love to call it a “reboot” or “revamp” or whatever the term is for when a restaurant changes completely except for the name, but we never visited original before it closed. So, we can’t tell you how this new establishment compares to Caffe Dante the first.
What we can tell you is that whatever Caffe Dante was to its oldest and most loyal patrons, this new restaurant will hopefully be for a new generation of people. And as far as we can tell, Dante will be to small plates and cocktails what Blue Stone Lane is to breakfast and coffee for the young and social in this town. Neither place does anything particularly inventive on paper, but few know how to make things simultaneously look and taste as good.
New Dante is an aesthetically appealing spot best saved for nights when you’ll probably drink as much as you’ll eat. Not because the cocktails are better than the food - both menus have very high highlights. Moreso because Dante is a lively spot where people gather, whether it be for a casual meetup with friends, a first date where a full sit down dinner is probably going to be awkward, or a final stop for a negroni nightcap after dinner somewhere else. You can also use it during the day for a casual meetup of a different kind - coffee or brunch here are good decisions for a rendezvous when the sun is up. Just know that you’ll probably be tempted to do some day drinking.
Whatever you use Dante for, be glad that it’s here, for now. Because something else will eventually take its place. We just hope that when that time comes, we’ll still be around to complain about it. And so goes the circle of life.
A simple and delicious little plate of octopus atop some hummus. You’re going to order one, and then you’ll have a few bites and realize that you’re going to need two. Plan on it.
A note to Japan, Italy, and their respective representatives: the fact that you let some Australians figure out how to combine linguine vongole and ramen and create the world’s greatest soup is a shame and a travesty. This is hot and rich and delicious and absolutely must be ordered.
Excellent burrata cheese, and an excellent roasted and skinned tomato to eat it with. Another must order.
What’s not to like about dragging aged prosciutto and figs though some honey while you sip on a negroni? Eat this with a fork and you’re probably getting banished. If not from the restaurant, from this website.
If you can’t get your head around the glorious frankenstein of soup that we previously discussed, but you’re set on eating something noodle-related, this cold pasta salad is a good option. Especially if you’re looking to eat light.
You wouldn’t expect a light, airy cafe like Dante to specialize excellent, hearty soups, but they seem to. This halibut cioppino is a worthy order and will definitely fill you up.
This is the one section of the menu at Dante that we’d suggest you avoid. The flatbreads are fine if you’re just looking for something to soak up the extra three drinks you didn’t plan on having, but don’t expect anything beyond that.
About as perfect as a Negroni gets. They are billed as being “on tap,” but most of the ones we’ve had were made on the spot. There’s also a full Negroni menu for different variations on the theme.
Aperitivo means “afternoon” in Italian, right? Because that’s when we’re going to be drinking these. Aperol, Lillet Blanc, Prosecco, passion fruit, mango, and a little bit of tequila just to keep you on your toes.
See, time of day is important here. Luckily, you can drink this bloody mary any time of day you please. It says so right on the label. Why? No idea. But we’re gonna follow the rules on this one.