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Caffe Dante to Be Replaced by Small Plates Restaurant With Raw Bar

 A 100-year-old cafe on MacDougal Street is being replaced by a "shared plates" restaurant with a raw bar.
Caffe Dante Being Replaced By 'Small Plates' Restaurant With Raw Bar
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GREENWICH VILLAGE — One of Greenwich Village's oldest eateries is being replaced by a small-plates restaurant run by a one-time exec from a hospitality company and a chef who has worked in some of the world's most upscale restaurants, DNAinfo New York has learned.

A liquor license application for the now-vacant Caffe Dante space was submitted to Community Board 2 in December by Linden Pride, former director of operations at AvroKO, the hospitality group behind Nolita hot spots PUBLIC and Saxon + Parole, and includes a menu featuring "small plates and share plates."

The document, obtained by DNAinfo, also lists chef Noriyuki Sugie, whose 20 years of kitchen experience includes stints at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and Asiate in New York.

The application appears to contradict reported promises that Caffe Dante, which closed this week after 100 years on MacDougal Street, will remain largely the same under its new ownership.

Pride, whose resume also includes opening and managing Gotham West Market, various bars and restaurants in Australia and the Michelin-starred Hakkasan in London, requested CB2's approval for the State Liquor Authority to transfer Caffe Dante's existing liquor license to his recently-formed hospitality group, Figure of 8.

Among the new venture's specialties, according to the application, are handmade pasta, “seasonal flatbreads,” salads that will change daily, and a raw bar with “aquatic delights.”

“The restaurant will be modeled after a classic European-inspired neighborhood eatery — great coffee, pastries, all-day dining," Pride wrote in the application. "All menu items will be traditionally inspired, with a focus on clean, healthy eating. Think hand-to-mouth, antipasti, a range of crudos (kingfish, scallop, ocean trout), small dishes, oysters and seasonal flatbreads.”

A sample cocktail menu offers “kicked-up classics,” including the “world’s best” gin-and-tonic, made with fresh grapefruit and earl grey "mist," as well as a special Pimm’s Cup “garnished extravagantly with ‘salad.’”

The documents describe an "eclectic" wine list "full of rare but affordable wines... made by true artisans dedicated to producing some of the most exciting wines around.”

Though reports have suggested the cafe’s name will remain the same, Pride wrote in the application that the new venture's name has yet to be determined.

Pride's application indicates changes will be made to the interior of the restaurant, as well as the façade and signage, though no permits have been obtained from the Department of Buildings, according to officials and city records.

Pride will need approval from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission to alter the exterior of the landmarked building, and CB2 stipulated in a letter to the State Liquor Authority that their approval of the liquor license transferral is conditional on Pride not installing illuminated signage or lighting "that would unreasonably disturb residents living near" the restaurant at 79-81 MacDougal St.

The restaurant is expected to have a maximum of 65 seats, and a 10-seat bar, and be open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, according to the CB2 application.

Reached for comment, Pride said the menu for the new venture isn't yet finalized, but that "everything is the same" as it was when he submitted the application to the community board.

"We're excited and looking forward to being a part of the neighborhood," Pride said in an email to DNAinfo New York.

Pride said the new restaurant will open in "late spring."

UPDATE: Pride identified himself in his application as an AvroKO director of operations, but a spokeswoman from AvroKO clarified that Pride "left [the company] around the beginning of the year sometime" and said that AvroKO "is not involved in the project."