Executive chef Fulvio Valsecchi discovered cooking at a young age. The prodigy was born and raised in Lake Como, Italy, and began culinary school in Milan at the ripe age of 16. After immigrating to America in 1969, he opened the incredibly successful Ristorante Divino, a mecca for Northern Italian cuisine that won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence eight years in a row.
On his way to and from Divino, Fulvio used to pass by a little building on Fort Jackson Boulevard. He began daydreaming about a departure from his upscale Italian roots—something more family-centric and homey. After one too many passes, Fulvio decided to let that idea stretch its legs, buy the building, and open The Diner as a hub for modern southern comfort food.
The 4,000-square-foot restaurant hosts three dining areas and a separate bar stocked with beer and wine, all of which sport a 1950s-diner theme. Vibrant wall paintings by Columbia's own Chicken Man transport diners back in time with images of cherry-red convertibles, revving motorcycles, and forlorn bicyclists. As guests admire the nostalgic decor, chefs busy themselves by assembling ingredients from local markets and crafting European-style rémoulades to accent their southern staples of fried green tomatoes, meatloaf, and Cajun shrimp.