After closing in January for an overhaul, Caffe Dante reopened last week. Thankfully, the re-do is not the total disaster that many of us worried about.
The old signage remains, outside and painted on the windows, and the coffees and desserts are unchanged. It hasn't gone "artisanal." The yellowed old prints of Italy still hang on the walls, if a bit spruced in new frames. Sinatra plays over the speakers, not that guy who yodels over and over and over again about how happy he is.
The feel of the place, however, is just not the same.
Gone are the wobbly little tables and chairs that gave the space a cluttered and inviting look. They've been replaced by larger, sturdier tables and long banquettes. The old-fashioned cafe curtains that hung in the windows are also gone, along with those choice window-bench seats that seemed always to be reserved.
Caffe Dante is still Caffe Dante, but it feels cooler, less comfy, not a place you can sink into, feeling held in its history. Maybe with time it will warm up again.
All in all, it could be worse.