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Review: Divine is just fine

By: Charley Bolding-Smith Posted: January-08-2011 in
Charley Bolding-Smith

With the Café Yejj Group now well established, Phnom Penh-based social enterprise entrepreneur Trevor Sworn obviously has time on his hands.

His latest venture, Divine Pizza and Ribs (a partnership with the MMW Initiative) located at 123 Sisowath Quay, on the north side of the Night Market (next to Jaan) which opened last night, is likely to only reinforce his reputation as a successful restaurateur.

Pizza and rib restaurants tend to adopt contrasting decorative styles. There’s the type that’s themed to an inch of its life with ‘interesting’ miscellanea, and, well, often, junk. Then there’s the cool, stripped-down, minimalistic approach. Both have their adherents. In keeping with the elegant, uncluttered, effect of Café Yejj, Trevor has chosen the latter style for Divine Pizza and Ribs. Two serene sunset paintings, in oranges and browns, compliment the terracotta and white painted walls. Seating in the functional dining room is flexible, and able to accommodate both small and larger parties. The lounge music playlist does not intrude.

The menu, running the gamut of pizza, burgers and ribs, with a nod to local alternatives, springs few surprises, although the daily specials board may be worth keeping an eye on. But, let’s be honest, you don’t visit pizza and rib shacks for culinary originality – you go for conviviality and reassurance. On that basis, Divine promises to deliver amply.

Eschewing starter options, I wanted to test out a speciality of the house – ribs ($9). Among the five marinating styles offered (served with fries or bread and homemade coleslaw) I got stuck between Honey, Dijon Mustard and Sesame and the Sweet and Sour Homemade Sauce of Cambodian Pineapple, Lime and Palm Sugar. Finally, settling upon the latter, the rack proved meaty, tender, and flavourful, perhaps deserving of a jug of additional sauce for added, sticky, enjoyment of the meal. Inevitably, at some stage, eating a rack of ribs becomes finger food. The absence of an accompanying finger bowl of water or moist towel was, no doubt, an oversight that will be fixed in the days ahead. The fries were serviceable enough, and the coleslaw especially good, leading the reviewer to wish that the bowl in which it was served was a little larger. Alternative mains on offer include burgers ($6-$7), salads ($5.50-$7), and pasta and Asian choices ($5.50-$9).

The desserts, including brownies and sundaes ($2.25-$4), are aimed squarely at comfort. Unfortunately, the famous Café Yejj baked cheesecake failed to make an appearance on opening night. This, however, proved a blessing in disguise, as it led me to choose the ‘Orange Sunset’ special ($4), of Cointreau over Orange sorbet. It was an inspired selection, the citrusy sharpness of the sorbet slicing through the fatty unctuousness that the main course had left on the palate. More please.

The house red ($4), served in a suitably sized glass, was entirely acceptable, and there are the usual beer and soft drink offerings. Service, overseen on the opening night by Trevor himself, was efficient. Usefully, credit cards are accepted on orders over $10. All in all, Divine Pizza and Ribs is a good addition to the north Riverside dining scene, and is certain to be appreciated by both local and visiting families, as well as North-end based expatriates.


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