DINING AT DIVIETO RISTORANTE
The newest hotspot at Coconut Point Mall
The newest hotspot at Coconut Point Mall
Astep through the doors of Divieto Ristorante is like taking a step back in time, but with a modern twist. The newest addition to the dining scene at Coconut Point Mall, Divieto means prohibition in Italian, and that is indeed the vibe here. The restaurant’s concept pays homage to the great migration of Italians to the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Divieto co-owner Santiago Lopez says, “Cultures came together very naturally, to the point that today Italian food is the second most popular in the country. In those years [there] was the prohibition of the sale of alcohol, and this brought the Italian mafias, the inheritance of the family tradition, and these anecdotes gave us the ideas to create this concept.”
Wearing 1920s-style garb, the well-dressed staff provides attentive service throughout the large space that feels both casual and like you’re someplace special at the same time. The restaurant even offers entertainment that includes live crooning of classic songs and Italian favorites.
The restaurant business is second nature to Lopez. “I grew up working with cooks during my summer breaks,” he says. “For me, it was part of the summer entertainment to work with them. It’s been my passion ever since those years.”
When it came time to open a restaurant of his own, he chose to locate it in the city of Doral in the Miami area, explaining, “Miami is the second financial port in the United States and is a city that is constantly growing. It’s a multicultural city full of life.”
The success of Divieto on the east coast fueled Lopez’s drive across Alligator Alley, where he says, “We fell in love with both Estero and Coconut Point Mall.” From a business standpoint, he says, “the area is growing fast, and we saw a lot of opportunities around.”
Divieto is a company that thrives on innovation, according to Lopez, though he adds, “We also respect the traditional elements of Italian cuisine. This mixture between modern and traditional has given us very good results.”
The menu is full of Italian specialties with a touch of local fare for
good measure. Take, for example, the tropical tuna tartar or the refreshing jicama taco. For the taco, the root vegetable is thinly shaved, then filled with a mix of surimi, mayo and serrano pepper.
The menu has 70-plus items, including more than a dozen pastas that can be prepared with either wheat or gluten-free noodles.
The guest experience is a big part of the Divieto equation, as Lopez explains, “In an era where the service has been depersonalized, we try not only to serve good food, but to make the visit of our guests a pleasant experience.”
He cites the preparation for the restaurant’s signature Ruota di Parmigiano as an example. A giant wheel of aged Parmigiano Reggiano is rolled tableside, where traditional fettucine alfredo pasta is ceremoniously poured into the hollowed center. The hot pasta melts the outer layer of the cheese, seductively pulling it into the sauce for an extradecadent treat. Whatever you do, don’t leave the extra bits of cheese behind; have them scraped on top of your pasta or put in a side bowl.
The pizza served here is thin crust, with several special combinations such as fresh pear, Gorgonzola, balsamic onions, candied walnuts and fresh arugula; or mozzarella, mascarpone and Parmesan with sautéed mushrooms, ham and a drizzle of white truffle oil.
The slow-braised pork shank ossobuco is towering and hearty, served over a rich, creamy risotto. The carpaccio is perfectly shaved and more than enough to share, with mushrooms, arugula, Parmesan and a truffle drizzle.
Open for lunch and dinner, Divieto has a lot of space to accommodate a lot of preferences, including a private VIP room for larger parties and special celebrations. The main dining room is spacious but still cozy; many seats have a clear view of the open kitchen.
The indoor terrace offers a quieter and more intimate atmosphere, while the outdoor terrace is perfect for people-watching between courses. The bar is expansive and a great place to make new friends. Here you’ll find well-prepared cocktails and a wine list that covers more than just Italy.
This Italian restaurant, with its class and cuisine, is a welcome addition to the dining scene at Coconut Point.
Gina Birch is a regular contributor, a lover of good food, fine wine and fun times. She’s also a well-known media personality in Southwest Florida.
Among Divetio’s highlights (left to right): a good wine list that pairs well with the ultimate tableside experience, Ruota di Parmigiano, presented here by manager Alfredo Cedeño ( second from right), and evening entertainment featuring Italian favorites.