Monday, May 5, 2014

Dante Returns

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 They've been replaced by larger, sturdier tables and long banquettes.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.


Anonymous said...

Was there briefly about 10pm on Saturday and left right away. Just doesn't feel right. The new, big, flat screen TV was on, and both its presence and its desperate meaning were more than we wanted to contend with.

Loved those old rickety chairs and tables---it was part of how you felt history. Place seemed empty, though tables in the non-TV room were full. No one was at the bar, which was ironic, given that that's supposed to be the big draw now.

Meantime, the open-air market on Broadway just south of 4th (I think) is gone, as of this week. The area is being readied for a new condo. Where will all those venders go now?

Paul Pelkonen said...

"I'm not even supposed to be here today."
--Dante Hicks

Grade A Karen said...

Was a cocktail glass always on the awning?

Anonymous said...

Also, beautiful Ada, a long-time waitress and favorite at Caffe Dante is NOT there! Please ask for her if you go!

Jeremiah Moss said...

The television has got to go!

laura r. said...

seems it would be fine W/OUT a big TV. that is obnoxious. someone should speak w/them.(??) btw, this is a world wide "trend". you have this in mall cafes. sorry but a coffee place should have have a TV. as for the tables, it looks like they needed to replace them.

Anonymous said...

They put flat screens in at di Robertis a while back, but at least the sound is OFF.

I try not to pay any attention to them.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the TVs at Di Robertis either. I wish they weren't there, they just seem ugly and out of place in that jewel box. But I guess it's a cultural/mindset thing. Some people/proprietors just take TVs as de rigeur, without thinking of other ways to engage customers or give them something to do if they're lonely: magazines, games, etc.

NyFoodee said...

I've been a long time cutomer of Caffe Dante, going there since 1985 .. I loved the old Caffe Dante, and would go every single day ( sometimes twice a day) for my Cappucino or Espresso. Yes they have cahnged a bit. They did because the had to as a result of the Landlord "jacking up the Rent" quite a bit. No new stroy there. With the steep raise in monthly rent, they need to generate more income to make expenses and hopefuly a profit. They added a small kitchen and have created a nice little menu that is super affordable. Tatsy Meatballs for only $6.00 and a Lasagan like my mother used to make for only $8.00 .. "You can't beat that, and I just love it." They still have there famed mainstays of Great Italian Coffee, Pastries, and Homemade Gelato. They have a full bar which they've had for about 15 years. The ambiance is more or less the same, but the banguets were a bad idea, and I'm pretty sure they will realize this fact and pull them out eventualy. They lose a lot of seating with the banquets. My buddy Mario Flotta (The Owner) is still there and the main fixture of the place, "Mario is Caffe Dante." We wish them well, Caffe Dante is a wonderful historical part of Old Greenwich Village New York.
Daniel, Greenwich Village

PS .. Just wanted to say as a Greenwich Village New Yorker, I Love your Blog Jerimhiah, "It's Great," keep up the good work and thank you for it.

katie said...

I used to go there often while a grad student at NYU 1980s.
What they have done to it is a desecration.

Anonymous said...

I've been a long time customer of Dante and when I saw what they did to it I cried, horrible! And what happened to Ada, the image of caffe dante? I will never go back