Divino Cucina Italiana in Hastings-on-Hudson has been open for 10 months. Haven’t heard of it before? Visit and you’ll undoubtedly mourn for the time you lost — time that could’ve been spent in its airy speakeasy, sipping bespoke cocktails and nibbling on great bar food, or in the restaurant above, enjoying meticulously executed Italian delicacies.
Owner Gino Uli fell in love with the Warburton Avenue property, which abuts a scenic bridge and overlooks a historic artist’s studio, on a visit last year. And he sensed a need within the village: “Hastings had seafood, a wine bar, French food, and sushi, but there was nothing Italian,” he explains. He promptly set out to rectify the oversight.
Photo courtesy of Divino Cucina Italiana
Into the void has materialized plates of plump, golden ravioli, filled with fall-apart tender beef’s tongue. A plate of chicken livers, sautéed with onions, garlic and house herbs, flanked by olive oil-splashed crostini, is earthiness itself. For a showstopper, there’s a roasted veal bone cut lengthwise, the better to sop up the rich marrow from its trench using slices of garlic bread.
“I designed the menu, which I spent five months creating, with everything I grew up with,” says Uli, who previously owned 900 Park, an Italian eatery in the Bronx. “Chicken liver, tripe, bone marrow — my mother and grandmother made these foods.” There are also plenty of familiar Italian-American specialties on offer, such as veal piccata and a generously sized chicken parmigiana made with organic chicken. “I make my own sausage and fresh mozzarella,” Uli points out. “I also make my own pasta and meatballs, and even my dressings are homemade.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF DIVINO CUCINA ITALIANA
The cacio e pepe has the toothsome quality only fresh spaghetti can provide, punctuated by the bite of freshly cracked black pepper. Gluten-free eggplant lasagna, layered with whipped ricotta, spinach, mozzarella and homemade pomodoro, is so tasty your fork seems to develop a mind of its own, diving in again and again to mine yet another bite.
photo by deborah skolnik
A steady buzz of regulars at the bar indicates Divino has already become a local favorite. (A second indoor bar is being added downstairs.) “The community watched us build the place for months, and they gave us a great reception,” Uli says. “I wanted it to be a neighborhood place, a place you could come to twice a week. We definitely want people to come with their families.” That said, the atmosphere, with its exposed-brick walls and timbered ceilings, is nice enough for a date night as well. And the outdoor speakeasy, open until 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with a discreet entrance tucked into an alley, makes for a fun late night out.
The outdoor speakeasy, open until 4 a.m. with a discreet entrance tucked into an alley, makes for a fun late night out.
As the days grow shorter and cooler, expect hearty fare such as osso buco to begin appearing on the specials menu, along with braised meats and pumpkin ravioli. The well-priced wine selection, which stands at more than 40 choices, ensures you’ll find something ideal to accompany whatever you decide to dine on. If the Kahlua crème brûlée, an occasional special, is on offer when you visit, don’t hesitate to indulge. It’ll be the sweet ending to a superior night out.
Divino Cucina Italiana
524 Warburton Ave
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