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Back in May, WMJI Majic 105.7 featured a very trendy Tremont restaurant as a Dining Deal of the Day. Listeners could purchase a $50 gift certificate for $25. I broke several traffic laws that morning to get to the office in time to purchase the Dining Deal for a restaurant I had a feeling I would enjoy: Parma native Dante Boccuzzi’s DANTE.
From their opentable.com page: Enjoy Michelin-starred chef Dante Boccuzzi”s signature restaurant DANTE. Located in a historic bank building in Tremont, DANTE restaurant has become one of Cleveland’s premier dining spots. The decor features designs and works of art from local artists. Guests may choose from an a la Carte Menu or a Chef’s Tasting Menu. Experience the excitement of dining in the kitchen as Chef Dante prepares and serves you a multiple course tasting menu.
Our reservation for our anniversary dinner was for 6:45PM and we arrived on-time that evening. We were asked to wait in the bar area as our table was being cleared. 7:00PM rolled around and we were still standing in the bar. Making sure the hostess hadn’t forgotten about us, I checked in with her to find they were waiting for tables to clear and that it should “only be a moment”. We were finally sat at 7:10PM – 25 minutes after our original reservation. I have NEVER had this happen in this town so I was a bit annoyed at the beginning of our experience.
My annoyance quickly melted away upon meeting our waiter, Richard. He warmly greeted us and immediately informed us of the three additions to the menu – each sounding better than the last. I notified him of my gluten intolerance, to which he replied that one of his children had Celiac. We started chatting about gluten and he even informed me of some things that I didn’t know! He noted that several options on the menu could be made with rice flour without any issue. We ordered a half bottle of the pinot grigio to share, placed our orders of starters and mains and Hans started on the bread basket:
Based on what I could tell, there were two types of bread: a multi-grain and an olive focaccia. DAMN GLUTEN – I would have been ALL over those olives! Hans managed to pick around them (UGH!) and enjoyed some of each. It was presented with what we believed to be a hummus spread. I took a chance and took a bite, which was nicely flavored for a bread accompaniment.
As we casually enjoyed our wine, I noticed the time slip away. With a severe back up in the kitchen, our starters were no where to be found. Richard felt horrible and offered to buy both of us another glass of wine. Um, yes please?! As he returned, our starters arrived.
I opted for the Salad of 7 Summer Vegetables with carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, green beans, and mesclun.
Is it any surprise that I ate every bite of this beautiful array of veggies? I think not. It came pre-dressed in a vinaigrette, which did not weigh down the salad. I loved the use of the beets for the extra sweetness. I’ll be recreating this salad at home next summer when all those glorious veggies come back in season.
As Hans looked at the pasta selections to start, we had quite the discussion on what portion size to order. In the past when we’ve dined at “these types of restaurants” (his words, not mine), he’s gotten burned by not ordering enough. So I asked Richard about the portion sizes and he said a tasting size was about six to eight bites of food. They also had an appetizer and a main size available. Knowing that Hans could enjoy some pre-meal bread along with an entree, I encouraged him to order the smallest size.
Hans took my advice and ordered the tasting size portion of the Linguine alla Carbonara with a poached egg and house made pancetta.
Hans was very happy with his selection. He was surprised by how much he enjoyed the addition of the poached egg to the pasta. As for the portion size, I think it was perfect for a starter. I can’t imagine how big a “main” portion size would be!
For his main, Hans ordered the Grilled New Zealand Lamb Chops with pickled ramps, watercress, and chickpeas.
I snagged a bite of the lamb and the chickpeas. The chickpeas were surprising al dente – I even question if they were cooked at all based on their room temperature status. They were seasoned well and I was surprised to see Hans eat all of them and the pickled ramps without a blink of the eye. As for the lamb, it was cooked perfectly and had great flavor. Hans definitely did his best to get every single piece of meat off the bone. This was a winner. He also ordered a side of the purple potatoes, which he enjoyed but definitely wasn’t his favorite part of the meal.
For my main, I ordered the appetizer portion size of Black Quinoa Risotto with a confit tomato and rosemary toasted pine nuts.
As the rosemary wafted from the bowl, I knew I would eat the entire thing. I cut up the tomatoes, mixed them into the rest of the dish and took my first bite. I was speechless. There was something magical about the combo of the rosemary, the toasted pine nuts, the confit tomato and the quinoa that had taken over me. To beef up on my veggie intake, I stole the watercress from Hans’ entree and mixed it into my risotto. This only further heightened my enjoyment. I loved the use of quinoa – my new favorite gluten-free grain and power food, as Richard reminded me! I slowly savored every single bite. I’m hoping Dante takes to-go orders because I might consider ordering that every single night on the way home from work.
We were perfectly content at the end of the meal. Richard presented the dessert menu, but we decided to pass. As we finished our conversation with him, we mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary. To that, he lit up and wished us many, many more celebrations for years to come.
LONG STORY SHORT: Considering that the beginning of the night had a bit of a rough start, I forgotten about it by the time we left the restaurant at 9:00PM. The service was on point. I couldn’t help but leave a comment card stating that I believed Richard was the best server in town. His warmth, his knowledge and his personality set the tone for a fantastic dining experience. The excellent service was only followed by excellent cuisine. I am so happy that we selected Dante for our anniversary celebration. I believe that we’ll have to return next year to celebrate year number five!