1811 N. Orange Ave. | 407-802-0205 | caffedivina.com | $
The spot Caffé Divina occupies is bright and cheery, and the service is gracious and neighborly – several shopkeepers popped in to make conversation with the owner during my visit. But having lunch here is like going to your weird aunt’s house, if your aunt owned a $4,000 espresso machine. Utensils are strewn around the open kitchen; the cutting board isn’t so much used for cutting as for holding piles of serving plates and take-home containers; the TV screen flashes coffee trivia questions (presumably to spark conversation).
Attempting to ignore Josh Groban whining from the speakers – a definite mood-killer – I ordered the Caffé Divina Specialty sandwich ($7.50), hoping for a unique signature experience, but what followed was a cold tomato, mozzarella and arugula sandwich on multigrain bread. Bummer. For the money, I’d hoped it would be pressed and melty, but no such luck.
On the other hand, the lobster bisque ($3.75) was rich and anything but insipid. It had a forward seafood essence and was mostly pureed, except for a few small pieces of lobster meat that reminded me I wasn’t just slurping a creamy broth. I also appreciated the strength of the iced coffee ($3). Too often iced coffee is watered-down and sad, but Caffé Divina’s cold cuppa is perfectly dark and needs no improvement.
All told, Caffé Divina’s homey feel is refreshing in a city full of restaurants that flaunt disingenuous perfection, but there’s a way to be polished without pretense, and this little place is still working on it.