1 at Houston St.; A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.
Consisting of three establishments in two adjoining storefronts, Trattoria Dante and Caffe Dante are: an Italian restaurant with an emphasis on homemade pastas from the Abruzzo and Molise regions; a café serving wines, antipasti, and light sandwiches; and a dessert shop that sells homemade gelati and pastries. The run-down black-and-coffee linoleum floor, rickety chairs, and ancient pastry display case make the café and dessert shop feel like Little Italy before it became touristy, while the trattoria next door—which has the same owner but a separate kitchen—is far more plush, with a dark wood bar and a less varied menu. Their homemade pastas focus on Adriatic Sea styles, featuring hot pepper, olive oil, anchovies, and bacon. But the pull is the dessert. In addition to two dozen flavors of gelato and sorbet are rows of biscotti, fresh ricotta cheesecake, chocolate profiteroles, and tiramisu. Napoleons are packed with far more cream than dough and cannoli are stuffed to the breaking point. But even the pastries pale in comparison to the coppas—gelato-based desserts with alcohol. The coppa fantasia, gelato served atop wafer cookies and rum-marinated fruits, easily satisfies two. Also refreshing are drinks with sciroppi, fruit syrups like cherry or grenadine, mixed with mineral water or 7-Up.
Tuna sandwich, $12.75; coppa fantasia, $10