Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eating Out in Mendham: Dante's Italian Ristorante-Pizza

(Image taken from: restaurantpassion.com)

Many times, if you want pizza or you want more upper-scale Italian dishes, you have to make two separate trips. Not so with Dante’s Italian Ristorante, where both are under one roof. Not only that, but both are also available for picking up or sit down meals, so you get the best of both worlds when you come here.

“[When] we [originally] opened up as a restaurant, we had these little pizzas and everybody started asking for these pizzas to go,” owner Lisa Durso says, speaking of the inception of the restaurant, which is celebrating their 20th year anniversary this year, “That’s how the pizza and the Italian take-out started.”

“People still wanted to come in and have major meals,” Durso continues, “But they also still wanted to carry out pizza. And spaghetti, they wanted that, too. So that’s how it evolved.”

And Dante’s has evolved quite well. What was once, and still is for the most part, an Italian restaurant has transformed into a place where you can have any meal you want as long as you can supply the ingredients and the recipe.

“One thing that always stands true is that we’ll make anything that anybody wants,” Durso says,

“If they know the ingredients and know what they want then we’ll make it. Nothing is too crazy.”

This communication with the customer is an important part of Durso’s game plan. She wants to stay focused on giving back to the people who have supported her business for all these years.
We deliver pizzas to Mendham high school, West Morris Central, Mendham Township Elementary,” Durso says, “They have their pizza days.”

“It’s really nice to give back to the community, to the schools,” Durso continues, “I just do it for the kids.”

Amidst everything Dante’s does for the kids or for the customers, though, their primary focus has always been to serve some of the best Italian food in the area, and they’ve committed themselves to that promise, day in and day out.

“Some of our popular dishes are our stuffed veal chops,” Durso says, “I’d say our fried calamari is always really good, too.”

“And we have really great fresh salads,” Durso continues, “Our pasta guy is really good. We have whole wheat fettuccini with scallops and spinach and sun dried tomatoes that’s really good.”
They also have something that many other Italian places don’t have in the area, which is the ability to both bring your own wine and also, drink the wine served on the premises.

“We don’t have a liquor license, but we’re allowed to service New Jersey wines [but not any other outside wines],” Durso says, “So we hooked up with a vineyard in New Jersey, and now we have wine to offer that’s really great.”

Great wine, great Italian dishes, and great pizza, what else could you possibly ask for? There’s a lot to be thankful for at Dante’s, but Durso might be the most thankful of all.

“It’s been a wonderful experience being in the Mendham community for the last 20 years,” Durso says, “I’ve met some great people, and it’s those people who are part of my success and I just wanted to thank everybody.”

WHERE: 100 East Main Street, Mendham
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 973-543-5401
HOURS: Mon-Thurs, 11AM-9:00PM, Saturday, 11:00AM-10:00PM, Sunday, 1:00PM-9:00PM
CUISINE: Italian
PAYMENT: Cash, checks, and all major credit cards
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: A pleasant place with an area to both pick up meals and sit down for the meal, so you’re getting the best of both worlds
ATMOSPHERE: The cozy inside presents a nice balance for family or taking out a date
PARKING: In the nearby lot
MANAGER: John Triana
OWNER: Lisa Durso

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