Many spots in New York have “cafe” in the name, but they don’t look like their European counterparts: little tables on the sidewalk outside, a clattering of plates inside. The original Caffé Dante is the closest we have to the real thing. It opened in 1915, back when the Village was home to a large Italian immigrant community. Around this time, my ancestors arrived from Italy and lived two blocks away on Thompson Street. I don’t know for sure, but I like to think they went at least once for an espresso and a reminder of home.
The Italians have since moved on, but their beloved cafe remains. While most New Yorkers head to happy hour, I go to Dante for aperitivo. Every day from 15:00–18:00, they have a selection of 13 different negronis for US$10 (an excellent deal for the city). I get the original, which is on tap. If you’re more adventurous than me, you can try yours with chocolate, coffee, or mezcal.
I like to go on the earlier side when the sun is high in the sky, and it’s easy to pretend I’m in Rome, at least until I finish my negroni.