Today’s Groupon telewarps you into the bustling center of an Italian city located in an Italian airplane: for $10, you get $25 worth of Italian cuisine and drinks at this double-decker ristorante. Choose to sit on the first-floor Piazza for a more casual dining experience. It’s a large open space with multiple tables orbiting the central white fountain like bees around Jupiter. Sit on the top floor to see a gull’s-eye view of the feeding frenzy below. This could be considered the upscale section of the restaurant. The menus are the same no matter where you sit—only the views and atmospheric pressure vary.
At Divino, the décor screams of authenticity while the food whispers, “Mangia, mangia.” For lunch, choose from a wide range of moderately priced Italian eats. Salads, paninis, pasta, and pizzas make up the majority, while more hearty entrees finish the job. On the leafy side, munch on the tuna nicoise (Marinated yellow-fin tuna served over baby greens with tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, green beans, and potato, $7.95). If you prefer your food pressed, grilled, and sandwichy, the tradizone panini (Parma ham with extra-virgin olive oil and arugula, $5.95) makes the grade. Freshly made pizza concoctions range in toppings from spinach to salmon and in price from $7.95 to $10.95 with the option to build your own creation. Meatier entrees like veal marsala ($9.95) and chicken piccata ($7.95) ensure midday fullness. Also, lunch is not served on the weekends, so make sure your stomach wears its surgically implanted dinner jacket.
After five, the dinner bell rings, signaling the start of Pavlovian salivation. The menu is similar to lunch but slightly more expansive. Salads and pizzas stay for dinner for lighter fare, while house entrees suit up for the suppertime crowd. The New York strip with garlic prawns and heard butter (tagliate di manzo, $28), fresh lasagna with layers of fresh pasta with ground beef, ricotta, and homemade béchamel sauce ($12), or the sautéed chicken breast with prosciutto, tomato, and fresh mozzarella (pollo fiorentina, $20) are a few of the deliciously traditional dishes served. Don’t forget to round out your meal with a selection from the worldly wine menu.
Even the wait staff makes you feel like you’ve left America for greener, more boot-shaped pastures. According to a review in the Tampa Bay Informer: “As we sat devouring our food we were approached by a modest waiter named Umberto who asked if he could sing for us. He sung a very poetic and beautiful song with the tenor voice of an angel. Seriously, this man should be performing at the Met.”
Tampa Bay Informer and St. Petersburg Times, among others, recently featured reviews of Divino. Some articles mention that the restaurant has two menus depending on where you sit. This is no longer true; the same menu is now offered throughout the restaurant.
- The service is impeccable, even if you chose the more casual dining in the Piazza, which is what my husband and I chose on the first visit. We ordered the lasagna with noodles, homemade from imported Italian semolina, and a wild mushroom pizza made with porcini, Portobello, oyster & button mushrooms. The lasagna came with a fresh salad and homemade salad dressing and was accompanied by homemade bread and a seasoned olive oil for dipping. The food was beyond expectation. – Renee Belfort, Tampa Bay Informer
Urbanspooners give the restaurant 73% of a meatball made out of panna cotta.
Italian from Scratch
Diners who have only experienced dry, boxed pasta or premade sauces from jars are in for a real treat at Divino. Italian food made from scratch is a complex, multi-stage process where a lot can go wrong before it all goes deliciously right. What are just some of the many steps that bring home-style Italian meals to your plate?
- Twisting individual rotini into the soil to plant pasta trees
- Pounding air bubbles out of dough by getting plumber brothers to jump on it
- Individually dehydrating wheels of Parmesan cheese into particle form
- Intermittently racing home to stir sauce while chauffeuring a paranoid Ray Liotta on a series of substance-fueled errands
- Coming over here and giving your Nonna Sophia a great big hug
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