Of all those posts I’ve written over the years, none has sparked as much interest from chefs, restaurant owners/workers or fellow foodies via e-mail, calls, forums, etc. as my initial review of Dante (or its follow-up). While I’m all for good conversation and debate, I never quite understood what all the fuss was about. All in all, I gave Dante a positive review. I liked the space, I liked the chef and I was more than happy with the food. I didn’t even mind the wait, as I knew they’d been only open for 7 days. What I had found fault with was the poor communication and service, something that I felt is a basic skill we all have. But all in all, I encouraged readers to go – and even said I’d go back myself. And last night, that’s exactly where I was.
I met some friends to celebrate some good things happening in their lives (new home and pregnancy). I was running early, so I happily stopped at Banyan Tree for a few goodies – a couple fun finds for me and even Natalie (great kids stuff). What a fantastic store, I always find the best things there.
When I got to Dante, I was seated in the back, right in front of the semi-private four-top inside the bank vault. Such a great seating area – and next to the deluxe candy cart (you’re encouraged to visit the cart post dinner for a treat – Dante’s version of the after-dinner mint). The restaurant itself was nicely packed given it was a Monday. Right before ordering, Dante came out for a quick chat. He shared that the patio will hopefully be open in a month and is thinking January for the finished basement/sushi restaurant. If you’ve had Dante’s sushi, then you know that’s just too long to wait (the guy’s got mad sushi skills, thanks to his time at Nobu Milan). He agrees, and shared he’s hoping to start a sushi happy hour, perhaps as early as next week.
After perusing the menu, which has a lot of new items for spring, I opted to try a variety: oysters with parsley and mignonette ice, braised fennel with arugula and oranges (for the table), a cup of the saffron fish fume with mini shrimp dumplings, orzo and fennel and a tasting of the circle pasta with green olives, tomatoes and calamari. I also tried some of my friends spring ramp and wild mushroom polenta and skirt steak. We also tried the pappardelle bolognese with beef, veal and pork ragu, which Dante sent out (he called it “peace offering pasta” – a gesture I very much appreciated).
Aside from the food, what I liked so much about the old Dante was the variety of tastings you could try. I was happy that this same thought applies here, too. Nearly everything I tried was simply wonderful. The oysters were perfectly fresh (actually, just perfect in general), the fennel, though different from the first time I tried it, was so flavorful and quite satisfying and the few bites polenta was rich but heavenly. As for the pastas, the circles was nice, but I wouldn’t be in a hurry to order it again. The standout was easily the ragu with thick, homemade noodles. This dish reminded me of Sunday supper at my grandma’s. She would love this dish. I’m still thinking about this dish and the chunks of meat that I was scraping up long after the noodles disappeared. Must-try pasta at its finest.
While I frequented the old location, I’m so happy Dante moved to Tremont. This is a much better fit for him (and more convenient for me!). I’m looking forward to going back when the patio opens, and especially when he starts rolling sushi again.
Oh, and by the way, service rocked.