Enlightened by a Diva

| September 13, 2012

Diva restaurant has developed a strong following for its proficiency in delivering tasty, authentic Indian cuisine. Located on a bustling corner in Somerville’s Davis Square, about a mile from Harvard and Tufts universities, Diva, meaning candle, which in India represents enlightenment and celebration, is illuminating the palates and imagination of many. The restaurant’s bold colors, prominent bar and architectural use of curves and corners evoke a post-modern Indian fantasy. One room (the restaurant) is more traditional and low key, while the other (the lounge) has a clubbier, more hip feel. Its mesmerizing contemporary décor has been featured in several design magazines, as the ambience is cool, relaxed and quite inviting.

Backed by a performance-art style, glass enclosed tandoori booth, the heady spices, intriguing flavors and beautiful breads are all reasons to love this stylish and trendy eatery. Diva’s menu of more than 100 exciting dishes, all priced under $20, range from the regions of Madras and Bangalore, all the way to Mumbai. With tandoori specialties and shareable vegetarian platters galore, Diva has something to offer everyone. For the more adventurous, try being enlightened by one of their nightly specials which encourages patrons to try new recipes that venture into the many of the regions of India. For those looking for a deal, at $39.95 the Diva Royal Dinner for Two is exceptional. This is a massive offering that includes such a significant amount of delicious food, that ample leftovers for that midnight snack are a foregone conclusion.

One of the more memorable highlights of Diva was the dishes coming forth from the tandoor. It brought delights to the senses that were remarkable, as well as memorable. As a New York based food writer, I feel that I have been robbed by the legal inability for the proper use of tandoors in the city’s restaurants. In New York City, by law, you are not allowed to fire a tandoor with wood or coal, only gas. While this enables you to cook at the high temperatures traditionally associated with tandoor cooking, it completely lacks the smoky flavor imparted by the wood or coal. It is that fragrant taste that was explosive in the tandoori dishes that were sampled. With specialties including Tandoori Swordfish Masala, Tandoori Shrimp, Tandoori Rack of Lamb and the classic Chicken Tikka Masala, I was in heaven. Admittedly, I will be somewhat sad to return to the gas-fired cooking vessels of my hometown.
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The bustling and outrageous Diva Lounge, connected by a narrow passageway to the restaurant, is known for its extensive martini list and after 5 p.m. offers a $1 Indian tapas menu that boasts 16 different items. With delectable treats that include Cheese and Mushroom Samosas, Mini Cheese Dosas, Aloo Paratha (whole wheat bread stuffed with spiced potatoes), Lamb Sliders and Shrimp Chat (cold shrimp and cucumber salad served in a crispy roti bowl), a night at Diva Lounge is guaranteed to be one to remember. Add to that some of the hottest local DJ’s spinning an eclectic mix of mesmerizing beats and you have a premiere nightspot. As you might imagine, in this economy and in a city that is teeming with colleges, this is an extremely popular place. But don’t be put off; this is hip and intriguing by any age standard. So if you want to hang out in a futuristic setting and dine on unusual and delicious tapas that only cost a dollar a piece, the lounge at Diva is the place to be.

All in all, Diva has developed a much needed niche in Davis Square and is yet another success story for the accomplished One World Cuisine Group.