As you might have gathered from the name, Ristorante Divino serves authentic Italian food. And by "authentic," I mean that the chef / owner is from Italy. Right on. The restaurant is tiny - like maybe 15 tables in the entire place. We didn't have a reservation - it was the middle of the week, so we didn't think we'd need one - but we probably should have. I absolutely adored the atmosphere. It was intimate without feeling crowded, dark without being overdone. I personally wouldn't have gone to dinner wearing anything less formal than what I had on (I had come straight from work), but there were other people there in less formal attire. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post, but there was a sign at the hostess stand that asked that cell phones not be used in the dining room, a directive I was happy to comply with.
We were seated right away, and our server came over almost immediately to take our drink orders. After perusing the menu, we each decided to start with soup. R had the soup of the day, which was a wild mushroom dish. It was incredible. The flavors were spot on. It was rich, creamy, and delicious. This was probably one of the best things about our meal that night. I had the lobster bisque, which was equally rich and creamy. There were huge bits of lobster in it. I very strongly considered a) licking the bowl and b) using the fresh bread on the table to sop up every last bit of soup. In the end, I did neither, as I do, on occasion, have a wee bit of class and know how to behave properly.
The pace of dinner was great, as we had a few minutes to relax and chat before our entrees arrived. I ordered the linguine ai fruitti di mare, or for those of us who don't speak Italian, seafood linguine. It had shrimp (which I picked out and gave to R), scallops, calamari, tomatoes, and garlic in a pinot grigio sauce. The entire plate was also ringed with mussels. I really wish I could have taken a picture of this dish, because the presentation was beautiful. It tasted as good as it looked. The scallops were perfectly cooked, and the tomatoes and garlic created a great flavor. The pasta was a perfect al dente, which is huge in my book, as I despise overcooked pasta. It really was a deceptively simple dish. Everything complemented everything else and tasted absolutely divine.
R ordered one of the specials that night, which I believe was trout. It was served with mascarpone mashed potatoes and a red wine sauce. R enjoyed it. The fish was perfectly cooked, and the mashed potatoes were out of this world. They were creamy and a little bit tart, as you would expect from potatoes made with mascarpone.
And of course, no meal would be complete without the perfect dessert. I had the cheesecake (of course). It was creamy and awesome. It came with a drizzle of raspberry sauce and fresh berries. It was a rather large portion after a huge dinner, but the berries were the perfect way to end the evening. R had a grilled chocolate pound cake with whipped cream and berries. It was a much lighter choice than my cheesecake, but again, for me, the berries were the standout.
Once again, I enjoyed a fantastic meal at a locally owned Columbia restaurant. Anyone who tells you we don't have a food scene in this city must not be looking too hard. Ristorante Divino is just another brillant gem that Columbia has to offer. It's probably not much of an everyday spot, as it's a bit pricey, but I would definitely head there for a special occasion.