Crowned as the champions of the World’s 50 Best Bar Awards, the folks at Dante in New York City are definitely a hot topic in the food and drink world right now. With that accolade comes great expectation and, after a solid half hour walk from our hotel to Greenwich Village, we arrived down a quiet residential street to search for this century-old eatery. Dante itself is very discreet and inconspicuous; originally opened in 1915 to cater for a predominantly Italian audience, it still maintains that quaintness and charm, despite being a favourite celebrity hangout. Current owners, Australian couple Linden Pride and Nathalie Hudson, have kept all of that turn-of-the-century charm; albeit with a slightly modernised take on both the food and cocktail menu.
If you come here for the cocktails, you won’t be disappointed; it goes without saying that the world’s best bar is head and shoulders above most of the competition. That being said, there is no air of stuffiness; the bar staff are talented and knowledgeable, yes, but also happy to talk you through the menu and advise you on what Negroni to have next. Presentation is clean; don’t expect too many theatrics apart from a spritz of rose water here and there. It’s quite the juxtaposition, with cocktails pared back to what they should be; extremely well-made, well-balanced and enjoyed in a fuss-free environment. Negronis are the signature pour and, if you manage to nab a seat at the bar between 3-6pm, you can enjoy one (or several) for a mere $10. By New York standards this is almost criminally cheap. My personal favourite was the Boulevardier; a simple concoction of bourbon, bitters and Dolin rouge.
Speaking of being a very affordable option, the lunch set menu is also a steal at $25 for three courses. Starters for the each of us were incredibly fresh; my Baby Gem, Avocado and Pink Grapefruit was the perfect appetiser. Katie decided to go for the Citrus and Bitter Leaf with Olives and Fennel. Mains was pasta; probably the freshest pasta I have ever tasted. Ribbons of Pappardelle all’ragu were draped over my bowl, mixed in with braised wild boar, pork and Reggiano. Katie went for the vegetarian option which was also unbelievably tasty; Fazzoletti with pesto genovese, stracciatella & pangrattato. Think of it as a rich, smooth combination of pesto and cheeses. To finish, desert; Tiramisu for Katie and a Buttermilk panna cotta with spiced quince and pistachios for me. Genuinely some of the best food I have ever tasted.
Dante is somewhere you must visit if you are in New York. If you are lucky enough to be staying close by that may be more than once but, if you are Uptown like we were, it is certainly worth a pilgrimage. Aim to get there for a 2pm late lunch and then stay a few hours into the Negroni Sessions. Three courses and plenty of libation came to less than $80 per head including tax and service which, for the Best Bar in the World, is money well spent. The atmosphere really picks up as the sun goes down, so do get involved and chat with the locals.