By Veronica Pastore
I wouldn’t know it was there if no one told me. And when I walked into Divino to find an empty bar around 9:30 pm last Wednesday, I was worried—where was “La Veranda,” the fabulous late-night happy hour I’d been hearing about? The party, the bartender motioned, was outside in the courtyard (also accessible by parking on Osprey Avenue and entering through the back gate).
I found the door and host with the most, Tim Mitten of Full Moon Promotions, who greeted me warmly, quickly introduced me to six new friends and offered me a drink. Tim is known for impeccable hospitality at his events and didn’t disappoint with La Veranda. He got me a table and we people-watched, enjoying a big city vibe in the small courtyard. With the Rivo and Herald-Tribune buildings looming under an open night sky, swaths of Astroturf underfoot and strands of lights encircling the space, one could almost mistake the spot for a hip getaway in the midst of some vibrant urban center.
DJ Dima provided the entertainment in the form of thumping beats that seemed to span every genre imaginable—eastern European techno, salsa favorites, Top 40 and even a little Frank Sinatra later on to close things out. Many of the songs Dima played were made more remarkable by the addition of his father, fellow musician Boris N., on saxophone, playing live to tunes such as “Billie Jean” and “Gangnam Style.”
The crowd was mixed in age and generally up and dancing by the time I arrived—the party starts at 7 p.m. and Divino’s offers a specially priced appetizer menu and $6 top shelf cocktails or $3 Peronis, among other options. The event continues weekly with a special “Noise Ordinance Celebration Party” tonight in light of the City Commission’s decision last night not to enforce codes that ban amplified music in restaurants' outdoor seating.
For a little in-city getaway, La Veranda is just close enough to and just far enough away from it all. Tim will be the sharp-looking, smiling guy in a vest or blazer—tell him your favorite “Party Girl” sent you and he will be sure to take good care of you, too.
Click here to read about Sarasota's best happy hours.