Way out West there was this fella I wanna tell you about. Fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least, that was the handle his Lovin’ parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. This Lebowski, he called himself the Dude. Now, Dude, that’s a name no one would self-apply where I come from. But, then there was a whole lot about the Dude that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. And a lot about where he lived like-wise. But then again, maybe that’s why I found the place durned interesting.” ….
Where has The Panini Nazi Gone? This is a question, some of the age of 35 and over in New York's Southern Greenwich Village and Soho might ask. Others too, in other New York neighborhoods who made it over to a great little sandwich shop called Melampo. Melemapo is now diseased No longer in business. The owner, one Alessandro Gualandi, also-known-as "The Panni Nazi" ran his little sandwich shop on Sullivan Street between Spring and Prince Streets in what is now known as Soho, but for me and many "like" me, this is still known as The Village. Alessandro came to New York from Florence Italy. He used to work as a waiter at the famed Florentine Restaurant in New York "Da Silvano" owned by fellow Florentine Silvano Marchetto .. Alessandro was a hard worker who established himself in New York, saved up some money, then opened his own little heaven, one Melampo Sandwich Shop in South Greenwich Village (Soho) New York ...
Alessandro was a passionate man, especially about food as any self-respecting Italian would be. He created his little shop of Hand-Crafted Italian Sandwiches (Panini) .. He made a menu, whereby all the Panini had their own names. Names like; Geppetto, Julia, and such. I can't really remember all the names. The thing is, Alessandro had rules, and you better abide by them. He was an artist after all. You ordered a Panino (Sandwich) by name, and that was it. What it said on the menu describing the sandwich and the ingredients in any particular one was what you got. If the name was Marcello (named for the late great Italian actor Marcello Mastrianni) and the menu said the sandwich was made of Prosciutto, Mortadella, and Provolone, then that's what you got. You couldn't ask Alessandro to leave something off or add something to a particular sandwich. He would not have it. He was a temperamental artist, and you're not going to ruin the balance of one of his masterful creations by altering it. If you, din't like it you could leave, "and believe Me many did." Alessandro could care less, he was an artist. Thus the moniker "Panini Nazi" there was no other. And not everyone knew his name, real or nickname.
Alessandro was a character yes, and many (including myself) loved that about him. Alessandro is still alive. He's retired. I seeing walking the streets of Soho and going for his morning coffee.
Alessandro and his little sandwich shop "Melampo" became famous. he made great sandwiches and sometimes the line would go out the door. And if you were in line, don't make any comments for Alessandro to hurry up, he took his time. He was an artist, a master sandwich maker, and you better not say anything to upset him.
Yes we miss him, Alessandro and his little sandwich shop Melampo. the shop is still there. It's now called Alidoro and run by someone else. It's much the same, they make good sandwiches, but Alessandro is gone, and so are all the "Rules" and quirkiness. We miss that ...
DANTE The new owners, including Linden Pride, formerly of AvroKO, have spruced up the 100-year-old cafe with green leather banquettes, but the space retains a vintage Italian Greenwich Village look with its pressed tin ceiling. The menu is now mostly small plates: beef tartare, burrata, flatbread and cold pasta salad. Italian aperitifs dominate the cocktail list: 79-81 Macdougal Street (Bleecker Street), 212-982-5275
A Picture of Former Caffe Dante Owner
Mari Flotta on the Homepage of The New Dante
The new Dante on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village is
absolutely nothing like the former beloved Caffe Dante, a caffe
that was a fixture of Greenwich Village for exactly 100 years
before closing earlier this year, when former owner
Mario Flotta sold Caffe Dante to Linden Pride who has been
quoted as saying the new Dante will be very much like the old
one with some changes. "Not" !!! The new Dante looks very nice
although quite different from the former caffe .. The entire concept
of the new Dante pretty much has nothing to do with the old one.
The New Dante has been billed as a Small Plates / Apertivo Bar
that has little resemblance to anything remotely Italian .. It's billed
as an Italian Apertivo Bar, yet the Wine list has barely 20%
Italian Wines in its makeup an the food apart from a few
Italian items, seems anything but Italian.
Although the new owner (s) has stated that the New Dante
will be very much like and in the spirit of the former Caffe Dante,
it seems doubtful that writers & students would be able to go into
the place, get a Cappuccino and sit writing for an hour or two.
The former Caffe Dante was a Greenwich Village Italian Caffe where
people could go just for a Cappuccino or Espresso and maybe a
pastry if they liked, hang out with friends or be there on there own just
relaxing, reading, writing, whatever ..
There was a rumor that the new Dante would be serving dinner and drinks
at night and that is what customers would be expected to order, and
spend probably a minimum of $30 and upwards, but during the day
people would be able to just go in for a Cappuccino or Espresso. it seems
doubtful that this will be possible, but time will tell. Time will tell what the
New Dante is, if its successful or not and if it stays the same as the owners
now intend or if it will morf into something else.
The Negroni? A question? A question to
some? Most of America probably. Many so-called sophisticates have been drinking this “The Negroni” quite a bit in the past 4 years or so. The truly
sophisticated, worldly folks have known about them far longer. Me? I’ve been
drinking this great Italian-Cocktail for some 28 years now. Yes, I’ve been
drinking Negroni’s ever since my first at a Bar in la Bella Roma back in the
Summer of 1985. Rome, “The Eternal City” is where I had my first, on that
marvelous first trip to Bella Italia. I was quite a young man, and that trip
was completely magical, discovering real Italian “Italian Food” for the very
first time, I had my first true Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara, Coda di
Vacinara, Bucatini Amatriciana, Gelato, and a true Italian Espresso, “Oh
Bliss!” Yes it was. I saw The Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s Moses at San
Pietro en Vincole (Saint Peter in Chains), I saw the Coliseum, The Roman Forum,
The Duomo in Florence, Venice and The Grand Canal, Positano, Capri, Napoli, and
so much more. Yes the trip was magical. It was magical hanging out at a Bar in
the Piazza Popolo drinking my first Campari, and that first of a thousand
Negroni’s, or more. Many American’s are just discov-ering its charms, “me and the Negroni,” we go way back; in
Rome, Venice, Capri, Positano, Capri, Verona, Bologna, I’ve had Negroni’s all
over. And many in New York in restaurants and bars all over Manhattan, and
Staten Island where I drink some of the best Negroni’s I’ve ever had, certainly
in New York, at my buddy Pat Parotta’s house in Staten Island. Pat pours an
awesome Negroni, better than any bartender in the city. He makes them with love
and when I go to one of his wonderful little dinner parties, that’s the first
thing I have. It’s tradition for us now. Leaving my house in Greenwich Village,
I hop on the 1 Train and take it down to the Battery to the Staten Island Ferry
Terminal. I hop on the ferry, ride across New York Harbor, passing the gorgeous
Lady Liberty (The Statue of Liberty) along the way. I get off the ferry. Pat picks me up at the
terminal on the Staten Island side. We go to house, and I’m not through the
door two minutes and he’s mixing up a nice one. A Negroni that is! Well 2 that
is, one for me, and a Negroni for himself. We drink great Italian Wine at those
dinner parties, and some of Pat’s tasty food. But we always start it off with
our ritualistic Negroni’s alla Patty
“P” and you should too.
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Sweet Vermouth
1 ounce Gin
1. Fill a Rocks-Glass or Highball Glass with Ice.
2) Add Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin.
3) Stir ingredients. Garnish with a piece of Orange Peel or slice of Orange.
Note: Orsen Wells after discovering the Negroni
while writing a screenplay in Rome, wrote in a correspon-dence back home that
he had discovered a delightful Italian Cocktail, “The Negroni.” Welles stated,
“It is made of Bitter Campari which is good for the liver, and of Gin which is bad.
The two balance each other out.”
photo Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
For me, this is the Perfect Negroni. The basic Negroni recipe calls for 3 equal
parts(1 oz.) each of Camapari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin in a glass filled with
ice, and garnished with an Orange Peel.
Forthe most perfectly balanced Negroni, I put in slightly less Campari (3/4 oz.), ¾ ounce of Gin, a little moreSweet Vermouth with 1 ¼ ounces, over Ice,
add a tiny spalsh of Club Soda
and Garnish with a good size piece of Orange. Voila! The Perfect Negroni. Enjoy!
THE NEGRONI is Excerpted From Daniel Bellino-Zwicke 's SUNDAY SAUCE