On our first visit to Dante restaurant, we tried the 5-course tasting menu. It was fun to relinquish control for an evening and let the chef serve whatever he felt like making. But the servings were a bit larger than we had anticipated, and at the price, it was more expensive than we felt comfortable paying for food we couldn't finish or take home. So, on this visit, we opted to order off the menu.
Again, the service, food and atmosphere were all excellent. One adjustment we hope they make is to bring up the lighting a little more, if only to accommodate aging eyes like ours. People "first eat with their eyes," so to speak, so it would be nice to be able to see the food clearly (not to mention the menu).
Since we had notified them that this would be a celebratory occasion, they served us with flutes of complimentary bubbly as we were seated. That was a nice surprise. We were seated at a two-top in a quiet cubbyhole, located beyond the kitchen at the back of the restaurant. At first it felt isolated, but after seeing how crowded and noisy the front of the restaurant was on this Friday night, we were glad to be there. Perhaps seating us in the back was intentional for romantic purposes. Had it been a warmer night, we would have liked to have been on the outdoor patio we could see through the windows near our table.
We were lucky to have Sarah as our server, who was also our server during our first visit months ago. As before, she was friendly, attentive, and very knowledgable about the food and wine. She made sure we had a very fine dining experience.
Overall, the food was well prepared and flavorful. The fresh bread brought to the table was replenished unnecessarily before we had time to finish the first batch. Their hummus that accompanied the bread was so wonderful, it's worthy of a place on the menu. I would suggest that starter portions be reduced a bit in size (and, commensurately, in price). Currently, they are almost large enough to be entrees. At their prices, we couldn't help but try to finish them. After munching on the hummus and bread and eating the starters, we were already pretty full. If the starter portions had been smaller, our enjoyment of the entrees probably would have been greater.
The Salad of 7-Vegetables was a huge mound of fresh greens atop other crisp veggies, and it was properly dressed. One of two standouts of our meal was the Maine Lobster Spring Roll starter. The fried roll, cut into four pieces, had a thin, crispy shell, and each piece contained a large, succulent chunk of lobster. This outstanding dish is one we would order two of as an entree.
The restaurant has a reputation for their amazing pasta. Their Ricotta Cavatelli alla Norma is a large and satisfying bowl of perfectly cooked pasta in a light red sauce with chunks of tomatoes and eggplant. The pan roasted Skate Wing tasted strongly of butter. Who doesn't like butter? Yet, I thought the butter was a bit excessive, overpowering the delicate flavor of the fish. The filet itself was nicely crisped on the outside, but I found it to be slightly overcooked. The salting was a little heavy-handed, too. Although both entrees were delicious, the spring roll starter out-shined them both.
The new Chocolate Box dessert we shared was so exceptional, we were still talking about it the next day. As the name suggests, there is a hollow, topless box with walls constructed of dark chocolate resting on a square of dense, flourless chocolate cake. The box is filled with the most scrumptious and memorable banana mousse. The berry sauce smeared on the plate and the spoonful of diced strawberry beside the box complemented the chocolate and mousse perfectly. The dollop of frozen banana yogurt on the side, sitting on a little mound of coffee-flavored chocolate "dirt" granules, was also wonderful. Leave room for this dessert!
The chef-owner has received national recognition for his talents, so appreciate and experience his complex of three restaurants in Tremont, but make reservations for dinner. With so many great restaurants and clubs in the area, it may be hard to find street parking on a busy night, so be prepared with cash for a fee plus tip for valet parking.