Monthly Archives: March 2007

Divino Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar

Given the many Italian restaurants in Houston, we aren’t sure how many people know about Divino, located on Alabama across from the Chocolate Bar.  But we doubt this family owned restaurant minds at all that they are not among the see and be seen Italian places.  They are happy to serve great food and wine in a relaxed setting without a lot of fanfare.  Thus, our designation as a Hidden Gem.

The owner who greets you at the door and the waiters could not be more gracious.  (Note, we said waiters as we didn’t see any women working there, but who cares when your waiter looks like a younger Mick Jagger without the smugness.)  Reservations are available but not after 7:30 on a weekend.  On a recent Friday night, there were a few tables available when we stopped in around 8:00.  If there are no tables, you can wait (and eat, if you want) at the bar, enjoying one of the many reasonably priced, well selected wines.  When we told Mick that we liked full bodied reds without a lot of fruit, he suggested a very good Vino Nobile from Tuscany.   We hear from friends who consider Divino one of their favorite Houston restaurants that they have private wine sales on occasion. 

We had tried Divino once before during our Calamari Travels.  The crunchy stuff here is very good, warranting a top five ranking on our list.  We didn’t indulge in the calamari on our latest visit, wanting to save room to try some of the other items on the primarily northern Italian menu.  As a starter, we shared the wonderful homemade goat cheese ravioli in butter sauce with pine nuts — a combination that’s hard to beat.  We moved on to entrees of a winter special of boar stew with polenta and parmesan crusted veal scallopini.  Both dishes were very good, particularly the veal, which was one of the best versions of this classic dish that we have ever tried.

Although we love the unpretentious feel of the place, you won’t find any red checked table clothes or wine in a basket.  Divino serves upscale Italian food at reasonable prices in a contemporary setting.  And, unlike many restaurants, you can hear yourself talk, and they don’t rush you through your meal.  All in all, a very enjoyable experience.

1830 Alabama (near Shepherd)