But the newest star in L.A.’s most expensive neighborhood is New York transplant Dante, located in the recently refurbished Maybourne Beverly Hills hotel.
Known worldwide for its bar program and consistently ranked in the World’s 50 Best Bars (currently clocking in at no. 36), Dante first opened in 1915 in Greenwich Village as a boozy hangout for writers, artists, musicians, and their drinking pals. Today, the bar and its offshoots (there is a second location in New York) are owned by husband-and-wife team Linden Pride and Nathalie Hudson, and cater to cocktail connoisseurs and Italian food lovers alike.
“People know Dante for the cocktails and the drinks. But you know, this is a restaurant,” says Pride. “We really straddle that culinary-cocktail-aperitivo moment that fits into the whole experience. If you just go to a Negroni bar, and you’re just drinking Negronis, that’s not how they’re designed to be enjoyed. In Italy, you go to aperitivo and they give you nuts and green olives and all kinds of snacks — it’s designed to be an occasion. That fits into our whole model,” he adds.
Intrigued by the prospect of a snazzy night out in Beverly Hills? Here’s everything you need to know for drinking and dining at Dante.
1. A room with a serious view.
Nestled on the ninth floor of the Maybourne Beverly Hills, Dante stretches across the rooftop of the hotel, with indoor and outdoor seating alongside the pool with a wood-fired pizza oven. The interior is laden with white marble, plush blue horseshoe booths, and endless balcony views of the Hollywood Hills that evokes the Amalfi Coast as much as it does Los Angeles.
Looking up, the ceiling features an elaborate fresco, inspired by Pride and Hudson’s trips to Italy. The couple met with local artist Abel Macias to develop the piece together. “In the center there’s a hummingbird, and every day at about three o’clock we get these three little hummingbirds that hang out for us, which is so beautiful,” says Pride. But if you miss the birds, don’t fret: the views are incredible from nearly every seat in the house. “The fresco is really meant to be pulling in that patina of the colors from outside and making it open and airy and beautiful,” he says.
2. Don’t expect New York vibes here.
There’s nothing old-school, dark, or brooding about this version of Dante. Beyond the bright, airy interior, the food and cocktails are tailored to an L.A. crowd, and more specifically, a Beverly Hills clientèle. “We’re not a cookie cutter concept at all,” Pride says. “Half the menu is specifically designed for this location. And we’ve spent a lot of time here over the last six months, getting to know the suppliers, the other restaurants, seeing what people are ordering and adapting the menu specifically for here.” There’s also live piano music by singer-musician Louis B. Middleton from Monday to Friday — and more importantly, a $10 martini menu from 3-5 p.m. seven days a week.
3. Come for the world-class cocktails…
Pride is widely considered one of the best bartenders in the world, and the drinks live up to the accolades. The aforementioned martini menu has seven different variations, like the Upside Down Dirty Gibson with a pickled onion, and a Tequila Martini with Lo-Fi sweet vermouth and crème de cacao. “I wasn’t sure how it would really take off, but the martini menu has been incredibly popular,” Pride says.
There are dozens of other choices that range from specialty Negronis and summer spritzes to seasonal Bellinis and agave-based drinks. “Another fan favorite has been the Celery Paloma, which is really refreshing. It’s a Tequila-based cocktail with celery bitters, celery juice, celery soda, celery salt, and a little bit of verjus and people have been loving that,” he adds.
The most unique bit of cocktailing comes in the form of a Negroni cart, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a rolling cocktail booth for tableside Negronis, with a wide range of ingredients for you to customize yours as you see fit.
4. …and stay for the food.
Dante’s menu is the same for lunch and dinner. Expect Italian-inspired fare that leans heavily into California’s bevvy of seasonal produce. For starters, standouts include the steak tartare, fritto misto, and cannellini bean salad. Pastas come in all shapes and sizes, including a pesto-laden gemelli, English pea pansotti, and tagliatelle al ragu. Entrées feature dry-aged strip steaks, snapper en papillote, and king salmon.
But where the restaurant really shines is the wood-fired pizzas. “Pizzas are selling really, really well and the guys have done an awesome job in getting the dough and the consistency right,” says Pride. Toppings include mortadella and stracciatella, spicy soppressata, squash blossoms, and more.
5. How to get into Dante Beverly Hills.
The biggest complaint around L.A.’s hype-heavy dining and drinking scene is around accessibility. Dante Beverly Hills reservations are available 30 days in advance, but Pride says that they have been booking up within a day or two. However, he notes that 25% of all seats are always reserved for walk-ins, “no matter what.”
Once in, you can expect a well-heeled crowd of international travelers, Beverly Hills locals, and the occasional celebrity. Dante’s name carries serious weight in the cocktail world, so in-the-know drinkers will be flocking to this locale. The fun truly kicks off around 3 p.m. as the live music starts and the discounted cocktails bring in the day drinkers, while later, see-and-be-seen gourmands gravitate to the balcony for dirty martinis and Hollywood sunsets.
Paul Feinstein is a Los Angeles-based food writer and the author of the upcoming book, “Italy Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by Italia” by HarperCollins imprint Cider Mill Press. Follow him here; follow Resy, too.