FINDING a decent Italian restaurant in Leeds can be a challenging task.
There are so many city centre eateries offering diners their own slice of Italy – some are successful and others are not so.
Driving away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre Oliver decided to return to the suburbs of north Leeds to see what Divino could serve up.
When Oliver last visited the Adel restaurant he was reasonably impressed with what he sampled even though the decor wasn’t to Oliver’s taste.
But interior design aside on Oliver’s last visit the cosy eaterie was a credit to the ‘burbs of Adel.
After all, it can be quite a tricky feat to recreate a taste of Italy whether you’re in the city centre or in the suburbs.
But after earning itself a nomination in this year’s prestigious Oliver Awards for best Italian and Suburban Restaurant categories it was only a matter of time before Oliver decided to return.
As my dining companion and I approached the restaurant the bright flashing lights and festive decorations made it twinkle among the parade of shops the restaurant its nestled on.
Divino’s owners had certainly embraced the festive spirit.
From the outside the restaurant didn’t appear too busy so my dining companion and I were surprised to step inside the Tardis-like room to find the restaurant bustling with diners.
Despite arriving a few minutes early we were ushered to our tables and handed the menus to peruse.
When Oliver previously visited Divino one of the main points that stuck in his mind was the ‘reasonably attentive’ service.
There were a few moments during Oliver’s earlier visit which disappointed him – particularly when the wine was not topped up or a drinks order never arrived.
But on Oliver’s latest visit it was clear to see that the attentive staff had clearly taken this on board.
Our exceptionally friendly waiter told us he had served over 100 covers already on the day we visited but he didn’t even look like he had burst into a sweat.
He even found the time to share a few jokes and polite conversation before handing us a selection of menus to glance over.
For a fleeting moment I wondered if Oliver’s cover had been blown but it transpired that the friendly waiter gave that level of service to every table.
There was even a large party in during our visit but still that did not stop the staff from making sure that our wine glasses were topped up throughout the course of the meal.
There was plenty to choose from on the menu but secretly Oliver was a little disappointed that there weren’t more fish dishes on offer in the main courses.
For starter Oliver opted for the button mushrooms served in a creamy garlic sauce topped with parmesan cheese and toasted bread.
The portion was quite large for a starter and the sauce was extremely rich and creamy which meant that Oliver could already feel his waistline expanding before even tackling his main course.
Nonetheless it was a perfectly enjoyable starter but maybe sometimes less just is a bit more.
My dining partner opted for the spicy meatballs in a chilli, mushroom and tomato sauce.
The meatballs were large and packed full of flavour and my dining companion said that the sauce was extremely moreish.
For the main course Oliver decided to pluck for the roast rump of lamb served with a rosemary and red wine sauce accompanied with a bed of roasted Mediterranean vegetables.
Sometimes rump can be a little tough but it was cooked perfectly.
The lamb was pink and tender.
The rosemary and red wine sauce was slightly thicker than Oliver expected but it was packed full of flavour.
My dining partner chose the pan-fried calves liver with bacon, confit onions with a sage and red wine sauce.
Oliver couldn’t help but sample his dining partner’s meal and if the truth be told he did have a touch of main course envy.
The calves liver was just divine.
It was cooked to perfection and just melted in your mouth.
The sauce was delicious and was a great accompaniment to the main.
The only downside was that the main course was so rich Oliver couldn’t even manage to stomach a dessert to round off a lovely meal.
My dining partner on the other hand managed to find room for a portion of tiramisu which he told me was the best he had ever sampled.
Overall our bill came in at a reasonable price of just under £80 and included a bottle of wine and a discretionary service tip .
On Oliver’s last review at Divino he pointed out the importance of suburban restaurants.
They’re a genuine focus for local communities.
Sometimes some suburban restaurants try too hard to capture a taste of city life. But Divino managed to accomplish this with ease.
If it wasn’t for the glass fronting that overlooks onto a bus stop directed for the city centre you could easily drift away and imagine stepping out onto the Headrow.
Finding a great Italian restaurant can be tricky because there are plenty on offer in Leeds.
But Divino is certainly Adel’s Italian jewel in its crown.
Address: 473 Otley Rd, Adel, Leeds LS16 7NR
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 5.30 - 10.30pm, Sat 5.30 - 11pm, Sun 12 noon - 10pm
Tel 0113 230 0600
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