When diners enter Toscana Divino, they're greeted with a rehearsed welcome from behind a sleek hostess stand, as the staff bellows, "Buona sera!" Lustrous wooden tables are adorned with fuchsia flowers and colorful handmade Tuscan glassware. Dark-gray shelves, highlighted by subdued LED strips, showcase stylish designer handbags and contemporary artwork.
Despite all the theatrics, Toscana Divino isn't all for show. The restaurant, rather, unites all things Tuscan -- fashion, wine, food, art -- inside a 150-seat Brickell eatery. Asked about the décor, which might look more at home in a retail shop, our server grinned and countered, "If it's on the wall, we will definitely sell it to you."
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The words Toscana and Tuscan are sprinkled on the menu with as much repetition as the pounding beats of the blasting Bossa n' Stones tunes. Beamed wooden ceilings hardly diminish the rowdy acoustics, and the space is consistently buzzing with an after-hours energy.
Headed by chef Julian Baker, the restaurant is a joint business venture between the city of Florence and the region of Tuscany, in conjunction with Tommaso Morelato and one of the owners of Piola, Stefano Cavinato. Marco Stabile, chef at the one-Michelin-star Ora d'Aria in Florence, reigns from afar. On one occasion, I spotted him enjoying dinner and keeping watch. Patrons in the back of the glossy room are rewarded with a peek inside the tightly run kitchen, and Stabile, of course, selected a seat with a view of the action.