In a city loaded with pizza shops, Dante’s in Cape Coral is divine.
July 22, 2013
“In this city teeming with pizza places, there is nothing like the month-old Dante’s. From servers seemingly ordered from a J. Crew catalog, to that swanky dining room, to the concise menu – three salads, four appetizers, sandwiches, pizzas – Dante’s isn’t what you expect on a road better-known for chains and homey mom-and-pops. ”
To get to Dante’s Coal Fired Pizza on a Friday night you must first wind your way through the Bonefish Grill parking lot. That involves a lot of brake tapping as folks battle for premium spots. And plenty of waiting as couples emerge from between vehicles, then cross at a pace so leisurely the man two cars behind you lays on his horn as motivation.
Near the east end of the plaza the crowds have cleared. You find a spot facing Pine Island Road in this bustling section of north Cape Coral, then exit your car only to be smacked in the face by the summer’s soggy heat. Nerves frayed and brow sweaty, you enter Dante’s.
Its modern sleekness fails to register at first. The bright greeting from the young hostess filters slowly to your ears as your eyes take in the walls lined in wide planks of honey-hued wood, and the spacious, rust-colored booths. They scan to the open kitchen at the rear, where chefs ply dough into large circles, then top them and set them to bake in brick ovens glowing with coal.
In this city teeming with pizza places, there is nothing like the month-old Dante’s. From servers seemingly ordered from a J. Crew catalog, to that swanky dining room, to the concise menu – three salads, four appetizers, sandwiches, pizzas – Dante’s isn’t what you expect on a road better-known for chains and homey mom-and-pops. Nor is its food. Meals here ought to start with a platter of antipasto loaded with rosy sheets of prosciutto, strips of mozzarella, house-roasted peppers and a pile of good olives colored black, purple and dull green.
There are vaguely round meatballs slathered in red sauce and crowned with a melting dollop of herb-flecked ricotta. Garbanzo beans, candied walnuts and wisps of Parmesan set Dante’s Italian salad apart from its often-boring brethren.
Chicken wings come to the table in a towering stack. Like Dante’s pizzas, they’re cooked in the blistering heat of the coal ovens till the skin is crisp and just slightly molten. There is no Buffalo sauce, just a garlicky marinade of herbs and lemon. Caramelized onions cling here and there, imparting their faint sweetness.