Columbia >Ristorante Divino
Exceptional food and a nice ambiance.
I previously dined at Ristorante Divino when they first moved into their location on Gervais Street. I don't remember much from that visit, except that my dad really enjoyed his lamb, and that I knew I was in a "fancy" restaurant when the server removed a small card and crumbed my table before the dessert course. I've never really considered going back, thinking it was too haute for me. Ten years later, I recently re-visited the restaurant, and fortunately my palate and dining experience in Columbia has improved enough to be able to appreciate Divino's for what it is - a fine dining establishment with great food and wine, and a helpful and knowledgeable staff.
The first thing I noticed about my reintroduction to Divino's was the building and location. Over the years, the popularity of the Vista area has led to a ridiculous parking problem. Lack of nearby garages and free parking has made a habit of circling the area for twenty minutes looking for a space. Divino's does have valet parking, but also has a more than adequate parking lot directly behind the restaurant (mention to any attendants that you are dining there and you shouldn't have to pay). I was expecting older decor and a "stuffier" atmosphere, but when I walked in I noticed that was not the case at all. The building and furniture had a very classical feel to it, while still being comfortable (especially the chairs). The bar area is small, but cozy and has a good view of Gervais Street.
The food was excellent. I had the Italian sausage and polenta appetizer, which was a fairly decent portion for an appetizer. My main course was the lamb, which appears to be a nightly "special." I've had some poorly cooked lamb in my day, however my meal that night was cooked perfectly and well plated. Everything tasted very fresh. Our server did an excellent job and was very knowledgeable with the specials and menu. The wine list is exceptional. I'm not as knowledgeable about wine, but the list was extensive and one of the largest I've seen for a Columbia Restaurant, second maybe only to Solstice Kitchen. The hostess checked on us during dinner and made sure to ask how everything was, which I appreciated more than the customary "how was everything" that restaurants usually give you as you're walking out the door (when it's too late to do anything). The chef also came out and asked about our meal, which I've only had happen at one other restaurant in Columbia.
Pricing at Divino's is very reasonable. I was originally going to write that it's slightly more expensive than most restaurants in the Columbia area, but after looking at the menu again, realized that that's not the case. Appetizers, soups, and salads are in the $7-$8 range, and entrees around $22 - $28. A meal at Outback Steak House or Harper's would run you about the same price for smaller portions. Ristorante Divino brings an exciting vibrancy to the heart of Columbia and the Vista area, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that loves authentic Northern Italian food.
Great Food, great dining room. Fabulous food and a great atmosphere. Amazing wine list, good service and top quality ingredients. Eat here and you will not be disappointed .
divine!. I've had many wonderful meals at Ristorante Divino. It's a special place with amazing food. I've had poor service once out of the numerous times we've dined there.
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