An Immersive Italian Experience in the Heart of New City
Traveling often means that your favorite restaurants could be anywhere in the world. This is both the gift and the curse of any experienced traveler. When you’ve had pasta in Italy, is anything in New York ever going to compare again? Such is the conundrum of a world wanderer.
Occasionally though, I stumble across a gem that’s within driving distance of my home. Fortunately for me, Panino Divino is not only driving distance- it’s in the heart of New City. I can walk there if I wanted to. And oh baby, do I want to. Paninis? Yes, please! Sweet and savory crepes? Sign me up!
Admittedly, it was the decor that first drew me in. Most of the windows were covered while the place was under construction, but I could still spy chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Curiosity got the best of me. I had to know: What was coming to New City?
The answer was in the name; This was to be the location of the most divine panini shop in this half of the hemisphere. Seriously. The food is that good. I’ve eaten many-a-meatball prepared by somebody’s Nonna and none of them have compared to the meatballs at Panino Divino.
If you know any Italians, you know what a risk I take in admitting that even my grandmother didn’t make meatballs as well at the ones that came on my meatball panini. I don’t make that claim lightly. But perhaps grandma would forgive me if she knew I specifically ordered their pasta special, Pork Ragu, to be served over cavatelli because it reminded me so much of her favorite pasta and her cooking.
Panino Divino is owned by Luisa Ficarra and her three children, Isabella, Joseph, and Elisabetta. While Luisa whips up melt-in-your-mouth crepes in the kitchen, her children wait tables. My husband and I met Isabella first, and immediately, she felt like the younger sister I’d forgotten existed. By the end of our meal, we were hugging her mother Luisa goodbye with promises to visit again soon.
That’s right- visit. Because the owners of Panino Divino aren’t just entrepreneurs who know New City needed crepes desperately and that you can never go wrong with a panini made on fresh bread imported from Brooklyn.
They’re not just brilliant restaurateurs who know we want cannolis and pastries baked in New York City paired with a classic Italian cappuccino, and homemade dishes filled with soft mozzarella cheese. No, they’re even more than that. They’re your long lost Italian relatives. You might walk through those doors looking for a bite to eat, but you leave with a family that you’ll actually want to keep visiting time and again.
You’ll also visit because Panino Divino offers their diners a sort of food escapism, their dishes a magical portal that transport you straight to Italy. The prosciutto panini I ordered on my first visit tasted exactly like the panini I ate while devouring the grandeur of the Colosseum. It doesn’t matter that the windows of Panino Divino look out to New City, because what’s happening within the walls and in the food is 100% Italian.
Conceptually, every detail of Panino Divino is a ode to Italy; The family’s passion for food and culture abounds. Italian music plays in the background, and Italian words welcoming everyone to the table are inscribed on the wall. And like cafes in Europe, Panino Divino is open late for those who want to order some Italian beers or wine while sharing a charcuterie board at a table with friends. This is reminiscent of my experience in Italy: A drink at a cafe with good conversation is the essence of Italian nightlife. And now, you don’t need to hop a plane to experience it.
218 South Main Street
New City, NY 10956
Phone Number: 845-634-1400