Dante’s Destiny

An East Coast legend settles into a spectacular setting at The Maybourne Beverly Hills.

One of the greatest bars in New York City opened its first West Coast outpost in the summer of 2023. Zachary Weiss recounts the history of Dante’s, an institution whose finest iteration now sits atop the rooftop of The Maybourne Beverly Hills.


There’s a beautiful din to be heard upon stepping into either of Dante’s bustling New York City outposts: convivial conversations peppered with laughs; the stacking of finished plates that once played host to delectable bites such as arancini al ragù; and, of course, the unmistakable shaking of a cocktail, before it’s poured into a frosty glass. It was a similar ambience, in 2015, that served as a siren call to Linden Pride and Nathalie Hudson, who took a chance on acquiring what was then a charming, albeit slightly run-down, café in Greenwich Village. 


Nathalie Hudson and Linden Pride
Photo by Robert Fitch

New Yorkers by way of Australia, the husband-and-wife duo were shown the space, a jewel box on MacDougal Street, under one condition: Caffe Dante, which opened in 1915, had to remain as such. “There were rumors the space would be converted into another cupcake shop. The owner, Mario, just couldn’t let that happen,” Pride tells me on a sunny afternoon as we sit outside Dante enjoying an orange juice. “He was holding out for the right person to continue the legacy of the restaurant. As we were sitting there getting acquainted with him over espresso and sambuca, it dawned on us that we were ready to do this. Australia has an incredible Italian presence, so we were well-acquainted with casual, all-day service, but we knew we eventually wanted to add a bar.”


In the beginning, Dante’s clientele remained firmly in two camps: the octogenarians who favored the tried-and-true coffee service and the younger set who sought out the venue for its budding menu of Italian-inspired bites and cocktails; a secret for those living within a few blocks. “Nathalie would work days and I’d do nights. When she had our daughter, Noa Grace, we’d literally hand the baby to each other as we crossed paths,” Pride remembers with a laugh. 

Among the regulars was “Elvis” director Baz Luhrmann, a fellow Australian who quickly became their best customer. “We were making about $300 a day for about a year,” Hudson recalls. “We were fortunate Baz was living across the road at the time. He came in one day and said, ‘I heard these Aussies had opened this place.’ He wanted a coffee then changed his mind to a Negroni. We worked out an arrangement where Linden would take Negronis across the street to Baz’s house for his guests. Then he was nice enough to start taking his meetings outside the shop, so he’d be in the café with notable friends. This led to a moment on Thanksgiving when Baz and Catherine [Martin, Luhrmann’s wife] hosted a dinner party for 30, including Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It really was surreal.”

 These days, Dante’s reputation precedes itself. The crowd is often equal parts local loyalists—some of whom order their “usual” with a simple glance toward the bartender—sitting with first-timers aware of the accolades the café has amassed over the past decade, as coffee has taken a back seat to bustling weekend brunches and artfully crafted cocktails. These awards hit new heights in 2019 when Dante was crowned the World’s Best Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s fiercely competitive ceremony, hosted in New Orleans, and later garnered the number one spot in the World’s 50 Best Bars list. 

The view from Dante Beverly Hills

 In 2020, they opened another outpost on Hudson Street, which served as an impromptu hub to send out pre-batched cocktail kits during the pandemic then became a center of gravity in the West Village hospitality circus. It was here that the love story of Maybourne and Dante began in 2022, when Dante West Village hosted the launch of “Claridge’s: The Cocktail Book.” “The conversation started simply about throwing a party and grew to a week-long residency of events in the West Village, so it was this immersive experience where we really got to know each other and connect,” says Pride. “The logical next step was to work on a pop-up together in London or the South of France, but then the opportunity to provide something long-term at The Maybourne Beverly Hills came up. Every step along the way from that first meeting, which began with trying to work out how to do an event together to working out how to build a business together, has had that same fluidity and serendipitous connection.”


 It’s all come to fruition on the rooftop at The Maybourne Beverly Hills, where signature libations such as the Negroni Bianco and Seville Spritz live alongside dishes designed with an eye toward fresh, seasonal ingredients. Dante Beverly Hills has come to life through wood-fired pizzas served poolside as well as roasted Santa Barbara black cod, organic chicken and rainbow trout, all from nearby suppliers. “The produce is so fresh and flavorful. We certainly want to take advantage of that,” says Hudson. “It’s like bringing the Amalfi way of life to California.” 

To book an evening at Dante Beverly Hills, visit dantebeverlyhills.com. 


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