Though plenty of chefs got their start at an early age, few can say their cooking career began with a visit from the local fire department at the age of 4. But Dante de Magistris is unlike any other chef on this list. The fire, which was started when Dante attempted to make eggs by putting them in Tupperware on the stove, was easily extinguished, but Dante’s passion for cooking was not. At 18 years old, Dante began a pilgrimage to his ancestral home in Italy, first working in Bologna and Florence, then working as a sous-chef at Ristorante Don Alfonso on the Amalfi Coast.
It was at Ristorante Don Alfonso where Dante’s career really took off. The head chefs left Dante in charge while they traveled to France, and while they were gone, Michelin came to review the restaurant; of course, Dante performed admirably, helping the restaurant win its third Michelin star.
Soon after, Dante returned to Boston, and along with his brothers Filippo and Damian opened Restaurant dante in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Restaurant dante has received plenty of critical acclaim, including a place on Bon Appetit magazine’s “Hot 10 Restaurants of 2006” list, Boston Globe magazine’s “Best of the New” list in 2007, and winning Boston magazine’s “Best of Boston” award for “Best Italian Restaurant” in 2008. In 2009, Dante and his brothers opened il Casale in their hometown of Belmont, ironically occupying a space that was once a firehouse- the same firehouse that responded to 4-year-old Dante’s first cooking mishap.
Specialties & Resources
Dante’s specialty is classic Italian cuisine, and he has honed his craft and technique over the years. At Restaurant dante, offerings include porcini risotto balls with mozzarella and truffle honey; grilled eggplant involtini with ricotta and tomato sugo; grilled octopus with grilled potatoes, mustard greens and olive vinaigrette; tomato-braised tripe with chickpeas, parmigiano-reggiano and parsley; organic greens with grapes, almonds, green beans, radishes and red wine vinaigrette; duck gnocchi with vegetable soffritto and drunken sour cherries; ricotta ravioli with porcini & chestnut sauce, crispy pancetta and sage; radiatorie pasta with braised lamb, root vegetables, grana Padano and root vegetables; lobster amatriciana with chitarra spaghetti, guanciale, tomatoes and hot pepperoncini; and seared duck breast with creamy carrot puree, citrus mostarda, vincotto and mustard greens.
At il Casale, menu items include octopus salad with potatoes, castelvetrano olives and preserved lemon; Tuscan tomato-bread pudding with extra virgin olive oil and basil; crispy calamari with zucchini, lemon wheel and peppadew aioli; rock shrimp scampi with cherry tomatoes, garlic and parsley; atlantic salmon filet with horseradish-pistachio crust, couscous and pesto; veal saltimbocca with prosciutto, bufala mozzarella and veal demi-glace; and gnocchi with forested mushrooms, truffle oil and crispy sage.