Downtown Stamford has recently become one of the strongest meccas of food and restaurants in the entire state of Connecticut, and for good reason. From the tip of North Stamford at the border of New York to the beaches at the end of Shippan Point, and everything in between, you will never fail to find an impeccable meal at any time of the day (or any day of the week). Last weekend was an important birthday in our family, and we decided that we needed to try a new place to celebrate. Located inside of our go-to hotel in the heart of Stamford (the Courtyard by Marriott Stamford Downtown), Divina is a newly opened Italian style bistro and wine bar. We made a reservation for three on a Friday night, and decided to head over at around 7 pm. Even with the frigid temperature and long night, downtown Stamford was still bustling with nightlife. When you walk into Divina, the cozy interior and fireplaces on the wall immediately establish a home-style feel, and the limited seating also ensures that you can expect an intimate meal with others and elite service. We have become experts at judging Italian food at this point in time, so we had high standards at the beginning of the meal. The focaccia and oil brought to the table was light and fluffy, full of flavor (so much that we asked for a second basket!). The menu was on the smaller end, which usually means higher quality dishes due to limited options. We started with the fried Montauk calamari with arrabbiata sauce, which were crispy and light, yet as tender as can be. When paired with the slightly spicy marinara sauce, it made for a mouthwatering bite. We also tried the skillet meatballs (flavorful and melt in your mouth, with crispy bread) and the moliterno truffle board (an aged pecorino with black truffles, paired with jams, olives and breadsticks). The owner, who came to the table to check on the appetizers and enjoy a friendly conversation, said we “needed to try the best tasting dish in house”, and sent out the Portuguese grilled octopus. It was buttery and paired with an acidic mostarda and herbaceous salsa verde, definitely the best bite of the evening. We were full at this point, but couldn’t resist the main courses that were being brought out. We ordered the pappardelle bolognese (simple yet tasty), the chicken parmigiana (juicy with a crispy exterior and perfectly cooked rigatoni), and the tagliatelle with truffle, mushrooms, and porcini dust (my favorite dish of the night; earthy and umami as can be). The food, the drinks (the dirty martini was top tier), and the absolutely amazing service made for an outstanding birthday dinner. I think that Divina delivered with probably the best service and ambiance that we have had yet in Stamford, and it made the meal and evening ever so much more enjoyable. If you are looking for a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, somewhere for a delicious dinner, or even just a quick lunch; Divina must be on your list. We will definitely be back soon, and the location (right across the street from Compass Stamford), makes it as accessible as can be!