King Street’s D’Vino is divine

Pair cicchetti (small plates) and an ombra (a 3-ounce wine pour) at this new King Street spot.
large charcuterie board
A large charcuterie board shared between guests was the first course on D'Vino's December preview dinner. (Photo by Andrea Behling)

Editor’s note: D’Vino is closed to in-person dining, but carryout is available.

When you’re drinking wine at a vineyard in Italy, opening a wine bar and tapas restaurant sounds like a great idea, says Dino Maniaci. “Probably too many glasses of wine,” he says. But it was at that moment — swirling wine in a glass in San Gimignano, Italy — when Maniaci and his partner, Jason Hoke, formed an idea for a place they’d open in Madison that would bring this experience back home with them.

Pieces started falling into place for Maniaci and Hoke, who also own WOOF’S on King Street, when the new owner of their building asked if they wanted to extend WOOF’S into the former Opus Lounge space next door. Not interested in expanding WOOF’S, the two decided to open D’Vino instead.

“I had a voice in the back of my head, which was my nana saying, ‘Don’t open a restaurant. Don’t open a restaurant’ — because it’s a lot of work,” Maniaci says. “But I always wanted to do it.”

And Nana’s recipes have come in quite handy. D’Vino serves small plates — “cicchetti” as they’re called in Venice — that are Maniaci and Hoke’s renditions of classic family recipes, influenced by their extensive travels and acquired tastes.

Try an Ombra
Enjoy an “ombra” — a 3-ounce pour of wine — with your cicchetti at D’Vino. In addition to ombras, D’Vino offers full glasses and bottles of wine. Swiss Cellars helps the wine bar source wines from small, family-owned vineyards, like the ones Maniaci and Hoke have visited. “There are great wines from everywhere, but we wanted these to be special to us,” Maniaci says.

Keeping Bad Luck Away
There’s a very particular way to prepare octopus at D’Vino. Maniaci dips the baby octopus in a pot of boiling water exactly three times — “to keep the ‘malocchio’ away,” Maniaci says. “My nana always did it and she told us it was because it would keep the ‘bad luck’ away,” he says. Since then he’s realized it’s actually so the tentacles will curl up. Octopus is on D’Vino’s menu in a carpaccio dish and an octopus salad dish.

Too Good To Share
The only splitting you’ll want to do with D’Vino’s arancini — stuffed risotto balls — is the split you’ll make with your fork to get to the gooey center, filled with either beef ragu, mushroom duxelle or saffron and smoked Gouda.

Dipping Delight
D’Vino serves bagna cauda, Italian for “hot bath,” a warm pot of butter, garlic, olive oil and anchovies that serves as a hot bath for dipping raw veggies and bread. You’ll want to soak up every last bit of the aromatic mixture, and the folks at D’Vino will make sure you have enough food to do so.

Dynamic Duo
Maniaci and Hoke have traveled the world together — places including France, Spain, Japan, Thailand and Australia. And Hoke, who studied culinary arts at L’Ecole de Cuisine and worked for a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef, has a primary profession that will surprise you (turn to page XX/click here to find out).

Just Like Nana Made
It’s hard to eat just one of these cannolis, which is why each order comes as a trio. D’Vino also offers cookies just like Nana used to make, including sesame and chocolate spice varieties.

FIND THEM: D’Vino, 116 King St., 608-285-9021

Andrea Behling is editor of Madison Magazine.