Thursday, June 5, 2008

Restaurant of the Weekend: Dante

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2008 at 6:50 AM

dante.jpg Economic woes notwithstanding, there are reasons aplenty to keep exploring the Cleveland dining scene. Tops among them, perhaps, the fact that prices here have remained mostly moderate, even at our trendiest places. Take Dante, for example, star chef Dante Boccuzzi’s top-flight dining destination in Valley View (8001 Rockside Road). Like any classy, gourmet go-to, Dante offers all the fine-dining accoutrements: a beautiful, white-tablecloth setting; a cadre of attentive servers; a thoughtfully stocked wine cellar; and a mouthwatering menu that runs from contemporary sophistication to earthy rusticity without ever missing a beat. ... Plus, it boasts Dante himself: A genial, down-to-earth Parma guy, who went on to become a globe-trotting chef with impeccable credentials and an international reputation before returning to his native land. For both its food and flat-out cachet, Dante is one of the best spots in town. Yet it’s entirely possible for a couple of savvy diners to get in and out for less than $80 (tax and tip not included.) Cheap? Of course not. But compared to similarly trendy restaurants in New York, Chicago, or SF, it’s an almost-unbelievable bargain. And no, you don’t have to fill up on bread to make this work – although the crusty slices and complimentary grissini should not be ignored. Here’s what we’d recommend for dinner for a pair of frugal gourmets: a shared smoked salmon and frisee salad ($10); a shared house-cured charcuterie platter ($16); and starter portions of two of the fabulous handmade pastas – the truffled tagliatelle alla carbonara, perhaps, and the ricotta cavatelli with braised beef – at the startlingly low price of $9 each. (And take our word for it: These pastas are so indulgently rich, you don’t want the $18 full-sized portions.) Accompany your meal with two glasses of wine (figure maybe another $20), and conclude with a shared dessert ($8), and your entire pre-tax-and-tip tab will come to just $72. At this rate, your tastebuds will be thrilled, your tummy will be happy, and you’ll still have a buck or two to toss to the valet. (Oh yeah, there’s free valet parking, too.) Dante is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday; and for dinner from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday. Call 216-524-9404 for reservations. For our full review, click here. -- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.

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