Bites Around the Village

By Lotus Belle-Glover


Known for their Negroni and being nearly impossible to get an outdoor table, Dante does not disappoint. I came here at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday during the short stretch of unseasonably nice weather and was lucky to be placed in said seating. If you can get a table on the front “patio,” this location is all about people-watching. We saw first dates, married couples, well-behaved and misbehaved dogs, well-behaved and misbehaved people—the best and worst that the West Village has to offer.

My experience with Dante food is that it will hold me over until dinner. That said, I have never given it a chance to be ‘the’ dinner. For me, it has always been about the drinks. There was a twist to each–traditional enough to appease the critic, creative enough to convince me. I need to try everything at least once. I recently found out that they have Martini Hour from 3-5 p.m. daily, with nearly half-priced martinis, so I will be back to test my theory. This is the kind of place I would bring out-of-towners for a post-city day drink, but I secretly prefer a table-for-one so I can unabashedly stare.

What we ordered:

“DIRTY” Reyka vodka, olive oil, olive bitters, pinch of salt, olive brine mist—$18. I am loyal to the dirty martini, so I have had my fair share of vodka/gin/bitters/olive combinations. This sticks to the traditional while adding a twist with the olive oil, smoothing it all out. The salt does not make it salty; the bitters/brine mix adds the olive flavor without the saline overload. Three perfectly plump green olives are served over ice. Unlike many dirty martinis, they were actually good olives. I will willingly try the other Martinis, the Upside Down Dirty Gibson, Emerald Martini, etc., but the dirty will likely end up being my Dante drink of choice.

Calamari Spicy calamari tossed in Japanese pepper, chili, black & white sesame, orange zest, lime & yuzu aioli—$26. We asked for breading on the calamari and were pleasantly surprised when our server obliged. The calamari was tender, the breading crisp—and without the fried taste or overwhelmingly thick coating. Pepper and chili build over time, enough to make you order a second drink. The citrus feels like a second thought, as I predict any flavor would, up against the yuzu aioli, which was the perfect balance to the spice.

Martini hour is daily from 3-5 p.m. and martinis are $10. 551 Hudson Street, New York, NY


When your east-coast-turned-west-coast mother comes into town and requests you pick a light lunch spot, bring her to B’Artusi. More specifically, bring her to the corner table-for-two by the window. B’Artusi is the sister restaurant to the famed L’Artusi—the artistic, witty younger sister. The floors are checkered, the chairs bright red. The bar is my new favorite green, a shade you could call light lime. A whimsical restaurant. The cuisine is self-described as Italian nibbles, but it tastes more California.

We walked in at 2 p.m. We had no reservation, but they could seat us inside—a perfect respite from the strong midday rays and 85-degree swelter. Our server resembles a local, recommending our Vin de France and the dishes we end up ordering—not the most popular, but ones he pairs with our preferences. He goes item by item through the menu, explaining how every dish could, or could not, be prepared gluten-free and comes back without complaint when I change my mind. From the Lamb Meatballs (spicy tomato, gremolata, hazelnuts) to the Sicilian Chopped Salad (finocchiona, olives, fried ceci), to the Chicken Wings (Calabrian chili, almonds, scallions, buttermilk ranch).

This is the place where appetizers become a meal, where one glass of wine becomes a few. A place where free-flowing conversation occurs, and you let it. When the plates are empty, the restaurant full, when the dull buzz of conversation becomes the shout of a pre-dinner drinks crowd, leave. Then come back the next day after 3 p.m. to try the B’urger Amatriciana (tomato jam, guanciale, provolone, crispy potatoes, *available after 3 pm weekdays).

What we ordered:

CHICKEN WINGS Calabrian chili, almonds, scallions, buttermilk ranch—$17. I can admit I have never been a wing person. That said, these are, hands down, some of the best wings I have ever had. Gluten free or not. New York or elsewhere. They have a crispy skin and the Calabrian chili gives it a sweet, sticky exterior. The garnishes are not garnishes, they are part of the dish—slivers of crunchy almonds provide texture and flaky, green scallions a freshness. The portion is generous. I was content with the nine-or-so wings, drumsticks, and thighs provided. Even if I came back for a more complete meal, I would order the wings to start.

KALE CAESAR SALAD Parmigiano, toasted walnuts, garlic croutons—$17. Trust me, add chicken to this. I am convinced the crispy strip is one of the best uses of $7 in the city. The dressing is appropriately tangy, the kale fresh, tender. The walnuts are not overpowering. All in all—good enough to make me believe I don’t actually dislike kale as much as I remember, but not enough to make me pick it over romaine.
B’artusi. 520 Hudson St, New York, NY