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January 10th, 2006

Review: Diva Restaurant

by Lorraine Haughton

341 W. Broadway
(between Broome and Grand Streets)
212.941.9024

While most would expect a restaurant bearing the name Diva to live up to it’s pretentious title-one visit to this SoHo gem proves the exact opposite. The small logo gracing the fa?ɬade gives an early indication of what awaits inside: an unassuming, yet quite impressive experience. From the minute you step into the warm, inviting space, you’re in for a special treat. Owned by the dynamic brother-sister duo Naci and Gaye Yangin, who also run the Mexican restaurant Chango on Park Avenue, Diva has been on the SoHo scene for over 11 years. This cool, ultra-hip locale is a favorite of celebrities who want to eat, drink and relax in a laid-back, comfortable environment.

My visit took place on a rainy Monday afternoon, a great time to check out a new hotspot. From the minute I walked through the door, the Diva experience began. Upon my arrival a young woman, who turned out to be a member of the wait staff, promptly greeted me, and took me to my table. She was extremely attentive and polite in a caring way, but at the same time, not too “in your face.”?Ǭ There’s a delicate balance between having someone cater to your needs, versus imposing on you while you are having your meal. Thankfully, she would be described as the former. The first thing that struck me was the size of the space: while not a huge restaurant, it is spacious enough so you won’t feel like the person sitting at the table beside you is eating with you as well. However, it has an intimate vibe that will make you want to spend hours there: chatting it up with friends, or even romancing that special person.

The d?cor consists of beautiful, autumnal hues in which everyone looks lovely, whether it’s day or night. Yellow and rust leather banquettes line the walls, while seating in the middle of the restaurant consists of small tables with single roses in fluted vases, wine glasses and glowing candles added for a sophisticated touch. Soft music graces the ears, with a variety of classic and soul. Random potted plants canvass the space, and the huge bar is highlighted by sexy, red lighting, and a well-placed, oval mirror, perfect for checking yourself out-or the person sitting next to you.

The food is described as Italian, but there is also a good sampling of American fare to keep the masses happy. Interesting starters include the Phyllo wrapped goat cheese, complemented by organic greens, orange slices and a zesty pomegranate vinaigrette. The lunch menu consists of a variety of burger options, as well as a Vegetable Stack sandwich, for those non-meat lovers. I indulged in the Lobster Ravioli; perhaps one of Diva’s most signature dishes, which is available for both lunch and dinner. This creation includes homemade black ravioli stuffed with fresh lobster in a creamy vodka sauce. The flavors were decadent, and the smoothness of the ravioli melted in my mouth. At a $19.00 price tag, you’d be hard pressed to find a better lobster ravioli anywhere in SoHo. I whetted my palate with the watermelon martini, which tasted as though it was freshly squeezed from a summer watermelon. The meal was topped off with an amazing warm apple tart with cookie crumbs, and vanilla bean ice cream. Cr?ɂ?me Brulee, Chocolate Mousse, and Tiramisu are other dessert options.

The weekend brunch scene is also a neighborhood fave, with tasty, yet cost-effective offerings such as Blueberry Waffles, French Toast, and a Fresh Mozzarella Omelette with asparagus, sundried tomato and fresh herbs gracing the menu. The restaurant is open daily from 12noon-4am,with the busiest time occurring weekdays around 7:30pm. By the end of the night the place has its share of young hipsters as well as cool old-school SoHo residents, who end up hanging out until the wee hours of the morning.

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | New York

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