I’m wondering if it’s possible to use the data view web part available in sharepoint designer on a page without having to customize or ‘unghost’ the page?
Yes, this is feasible and check the following steps
1. Create a sample web part page and add the dataview web part through sharepoint designer.
2. Now the sample web part page is unghosted. Export the web part from this web part page
3. Delete the sample web part page
4. Create a new web part page and import the web part
This way we can leverage the data-view web part without unghosting (or) customizing)