While driving through West Palm Beach the other night, I passed through the Northwood section of town and a corner restaurant caught my eye – Cafe Centro. I heard the name before, saw it listed on OpenTable, but never dined there.
So when a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile suggested we grab a bite to eat I asked whether or not she had ever been to this Italian restaurant. Since she said “no,” I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to check it out.
I made an 8pm reservation for Thursday (10/8/15) night and we got there a bit early, which turned out to not be a big deal because there were only two other tables occupied at the time. Cafe Centro is actually two distinct places… a restaurant and a piano bar. The restaurant is located in one section of the building with its own entrance, and the piano bar is on the side, with its own entrance. The piano bar happened to be closed during our visit.
Our server sat us down in the small, but comfortable, dining room and presented us with menus and took our drink order. A few moments later, another server brought each of us a dinner roll served on a plate. The roll was good, we asked for more, but more never came.
We started off with a few appetizers which we shared. First was one I noticed on the specials board on the way into the restaurant, Buffalo Calamari. The calamari was not fried, but lightly sauteed and tossed in a hot buffalo sauce and topped with gorgonzola cheese. While the heat of the dish didn’t bother me, my other dining companions complained that it was a little too hot for their taste. The calamari rings were large and were not too chewy.
The next appetizer we chose was the Bruschetta. I wanted to try the pizza that was on the menu, but or server suggested the Bruschetta instead since the pizza would be too filling for us if we were ordering entrees. The Bruschetta came out with a huge pile of chopped tomatoes, onions and basil and not enough bread, so we had to ask for more and even with a few extra pieces, there was still more topping than bread.
The bread was a little too crispy and did not hold the bruschetta on top without breaking – leading to a bit of a mess with each bite. When all the bread was gone, I took some of the sauce left from the calamari, mixed it in with some of the bruschetta and ate the leftover tomatoes that way, which was actually pretty good!
The bruschetta would have been much better had the bread not been so difficult to work with.
Next up were our entrees.
Diner number one chose the daily lasagna, which actually had two choices – a beef lasagna or a vegetable lasagna. He chose the beef version and it was a nice sized portion, but not as many layers as grandma would make! While I didn’t sneak a taste, he did say it was very good and judging by the licked-clean plate that was left, he enjoyed it.
Diner number two chose the Fettuccine con Pollo, pasta with grilled chicken and mushrooms in a herb cream sauce. The portion was large and the Fettuccine was light and fluffy. I did sample a little of this dish and it had a good flavor and the noodles tasted as if they were homemade.
For my main course, I went with another dish I saw on the specials board – Snapper Oreganato with Shrimp. The snapper had a bit of a strong fish taste to it, which for me is a bit of a turn-off. I prefer a mild fish, which snapper is, but this wasn’t mild. The portion was small and it was topped with breadcrumbs that could have been under the broiler a bit longer as they were soggy. On top of the fish were a few small shrimp and there was sauteed spinach on the side.
I do have to say the dish was disappointing.
One of us had a slice of Ricotta Cheesecake for dessert and I had some ice cream with cherries.
I read several other reviews on Google and Open Table and it seems Cafe Centro has a mix of good and bad, which pretty summed up our experience. Service was good, our waiter was pleasant, but I take off a point for not getting another round of dinner rolls! At the end of the night, I took notice that the restaurant could use a cleaning. Wine bottles in wine racks above the windows were covered in dust and several of the lighting fixtures – including the one above our table – had cobwebs which needed to be removed.
Would I come back? Unfortunately, I have to answer that question with a “probably not.” There was nothing that stood out that would make me return other than to see what the piano bar is like on a Friday or Saturday night.