CENA Italian Trattoria
CENA Italian Trattoria

CENA Italian Trattoria

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Phone: 502-333-0376x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Wednesday 5pm-10pm
    Thursday 5pm-10pm
    Friday 5pm-10pm
    Saturday 5pm-10pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Contemporary Italian, Italian
  • Executive Chef: Fernando Martinez
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Chef's Table, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Private Room, Wine

Getting there

  • Parking: Street Parking
A word from CENA Italian Trattoria
Welcome to CENA Italian Trattoria, formally The Place Downstairs. We look forward to serving you!
Continued
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerFit for Foodies
  • Diners' Choice WinnerRomantic
CENA Italian Trattoria reviews from OpenTable diners
95 reviews since May 25, 2014
Overall Rating4.4
  • Food4.5
    Service4.5
  • Ambiance4.3
    Noise LevelModerate
91% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (75)romantic (64)special occasion (64)neighborhood gem (21)notable wine list (16)hot spot (15)good for groups (14)late-night find (7)scenic view (2)kid-friendly (1)Show More
  • Wonderful from start to finish
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    CENA is wonderful. Wait staff are attentive and knowledgeable. Food is amazing and well thought out. My new favorite spot. Was very upset that "the Place" closed. But this was a suprise. I like CENA better. ENJOY!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • noname
    Dined on 9/18/2014
    New restaurant with fantastic food and service in a hard to find location..which tells you it is worth going there when so many come there night after night.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Will be back
    Bostonfoodie
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    Cena is tucked away beneath Mussels & Burgers & it's a whole different world. The service is impeccable & the food is unlike the average Italian places around town. Cena is an intimate setting that has patrons talking to each other about the food choices. Everyone enjoyed what they had & said they would try what others were eating on a return trip. My recommendation...don't skip dessert!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Tremendous
    flounder11
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    Cocktails were delicious, appetizers were amazing, our server Tito/Fernado was terrific. We had a taste of the Fired Goat Cheese courtesy of the manager, Ricky, and an order of the Campfire breakfast jar. The Jar was absolutely amazing. We shared a Gnocchi, and four our main course we had the Sea Bass. As one who eats a decent amount of seafood, this Bass was one of the best prepared dishes I have ever had in a restaurant. For dessert, the Cenamisu, their version of Tiramisu. They made it their own, while still giving me what I expected from the flavors.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, late-night find, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent! Will come again... Soon!
    Sgreen77
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    Everything about this place was great. We didn't understand the menu at all but "Tito" explain everything perfectly and his recommendations were nothing short of amazing!! My only complains was that there was a large family near us that had crying children, that was a bit annoying but hey, I chalk that up to bad timing. Truly great experience overall!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, kid-friendly, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Loveitalian
    Dined on 9/9/2014
    Good service. Fresh Italian food, excellent flavor! Moderate price.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • PLEASED
    foodiejeff40601
    Dined on 9/9/2014
    The atmosphere is wonderful, I have been looking for something such as this tucked away as if it was secret, the food was incredible, this being my second visit I am still pleased with service and the food, great selection of apps and the primi courses are so good, we finished our meal with the chocolate and pistachio cake with almond ice cream- divine ! If you are looking for something of the beaten path something to impress friends or loved ones, this place does fits the bill, and the value to quality ratio is awesome.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Outstanding
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    We recently lived for two years in Northern Italy and have been looking for a restaurant that matches the level of the many trattorias we enjoyed there. I think we've finally found the place! We found the food to be very authentic, although the portions have been Americanized. However, our server suggested we share each course, and it was the perfect solution. We started with the arancini (3) -- delicious! Our second course was the porchetta which was moist and tasty, and we had polenta to go with it--creamy and delicious. As a final course we chose 3 cheeses burrata, taleggio, and gorgonzola. It was the perfect ending. With an excellent bottle of Dolcetta D'Alba ($35), our total with tax and tip was about $110. We'll be back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    Have been twice, both times were outstanding, atmosphere was conducive for easy conversation , have already recommended to friends.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Quality at an affordable price
    Eggtuary
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    We went with another couple this weekend. Great food at affordable prices. My wife and I split an appetizer and a dessert, got separate entrees, and she had a cocktail. Bill came to $55 before tip. That's good value for a restaurant with this kind of ambience!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Love the food, hate to leave town
    BBNYPAKY
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    Three nights in a row, everything was wonderful, but I had to have the spectacular baby octopus twice. Am leaving town, but will remember these meals. Nothing is overpriced (well, maybe the 32 oz. steak, but who can eat a 32 oz. steak?) and everything is delicious. No boring old-school Italian here, the food has flair, freshness, an edge, a pepper here, honey where you don't expect it, something different, modern, unusual ... and I've eaten at some of the best restaurants in New York for many years. The cheese tray has fabulous cheeses which play off each other, and unadvertised accompaniments, each bursting with flavor. Go. Order anything. Eat. Enjoy. Don't live near this place -- or visit the area -- and miss this restaurant!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Mamma Mia!
    kdcoolest
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    We celebrated my birthday here and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. The food was well balanced and properly executed. My favorite had to be the Prosciutto and melon salad; the sweetness cut the saltiness of the Prosciutto perfectly and it was so fresh! The Oxtail Raviolis were also very good. They had a very good wine selection and I tried the tangerine beer. Think of it as a grown up's Blue Moon, no need to add orange, it's already in there for you!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Wonderful
    Martinigirls
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    This is the second time I have eaten at Cena, and both times it has been wonderful. The food is absolutely amazing and the service couldn't be better.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Better than great, worth the trip!
    BBNYPAKY
    Dined on 9/3/2014
    I loved this place in its former incarnation, The Place Downstairs, and a few of the highlights have been carried over with Italianesque names and themes, but try the new stuff. The chef is amazing, and the food is some of the best prepared and mouth-wateringly wonderful anywhere in the United States. I can't pick favorites because I haven't tried everything yet, and that is going to take a lot of time. But don't ignore the sides. Louisville is a Brussel Sprouts town, and I have had great sprouts with bacon, but here the dish has a hint of smokiness that raises it over the top. There are a few Italian standards, and they are well done, often with a twist. You'd be a fool to stick to these, be adventurous and you won't be sorry!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, scenic view, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Ambitious
    fuudy
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    The restaurant is eager to create nouveau Italian but it is going to require better execution and attention to detail.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A must try!!
    LouisvilleFoodieVIP
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    We were a party of four and all agreed on a stellar experience from start to finish. Our service was second to none. Attentive yet very friendly and personable as well while being able to make recommendations and demonstrate thorough knowledge of the menu items. The goat cheese and melon prosciutto salad were a great start. Followed with an assortment of italian meats with accompaniments. The pasta carbonara was next, the pasta was so fresh and the egg on top was a great addition. Main entrees for us were the 32 oz t-bone that had a nice char on the outside but cooked perfectly inside. Polenta with mushrooms and the brussel sprouts and cauliflower rounded out the meal. Will visit here again. One recommendation :make reservations.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Loud & Hungry
    eaterater
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    The acoustics were very reverberate making conversation quite difficult. The wine list had limited options for by-the-glass wines. Portions were small considering the price, especially for the gnocchi. The heat in the rigatoncini was nice but the meat was all on one side of the dish which I didn't realize until I was almost halfway done. Centering the meat under the noodles would have made more balanced bites. Wished the portion to price ratio had been more balanced. Service was very good though. Would be willing to try one more meal but perhaps in a quieter room if possible. Atmosphere was cozy, romantic, and upscale. There is no cell reception in the restaurant, so it's a great date spot if your partner is always on the phone! :)
    Special Features:
    hot spot, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fantastic, well-priced Italian!
    Debinky
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    We went to Cena with another couple, and we all walked away thoroughly impressed! Cena’s atmosphere is decidedly relaxed, while serving amazing versions of authentic Italian dishes. The dishes at Cena are served family-style (each serving 2-3). The appetizers ranged in price from $6-$14 and the portions on our two were substantial. Both our burrata heirloom tomato salad and fried goat cheese were wonderful. For entrees, we shared 3 ( 2 would have been plenty). My favorite was our Porchetta ( $29)- a huge piece of pork goodness- all succulent pork and crispy, fatty crust. Wonderful experience! With this level of food & service (and a great price point)- we see ourselves visiting often- both with and without kids.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Struggling
    GretaVIP
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    Liked That Place Downstairs so now that it is CENA, glad it's not a lot different. The prices are more moderate but still on the higher end. My dining companion had to send her food back because it wasn't even warm (mine was warm but not hot). The three cheeses were the best thing of the evening. Wine was haphazard--we ordered off the menu as well as stuff obviously loitering around from the previous restaurant. Ran out of my companion's choice so while waiting for her food to be warmed she had to switch wine. Waiter was very pleasant but would disappear for long stretches. The manager came over to help us understand, but still…the warmed food returned hot and tasty. No microwave involved. Promising but not there yet.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Local Gem
    Foodsnob
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    My husband and I used to frequent the previous restaurant, The Place Downstairs several times while it was open. We loved the chefs and the cuisine so we were anxious to try the Italian themed CENA restaurant. The service was okay, but the food and drink were amazing! Kudos to the entire staff, for another homerun restaurant!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Very nice
    loudiner
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    My wife and I (with rather different tastes) both really enjoyed our meal and the service. Some of the things we ordered: Goat Cheese Frito - tasty and well balanced. Crostini - Eggplant Caponata, Tuna Conserva/Farm Egg/Caper Aioli, Tomato/Pesto/Mozzarella - The tuna was my favorite and the eggplant caponata was very good. Gnocchi - Fennel Sausage/‏ Ricotta/San Marzano Tomatoes/Oven Roasted Fennel - Gnocchi properly fluffy. I wouldn't change a thing about the dish. Papperdelle - Duck Sugo/Tomatoes/Chianti - Very tasty duck and the dish was kept simple which worked well. For dessert, we had zapones, which were acceptable, but paled in comparison to the chocolate tart and almond gelato.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not a good First Experience
    Disgusted
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    Had a horrible experience. My husband did not want to go, but he went because I wanted to go. MISTAKE. Of course, his foods (Pasta), came out 100% cold. Mine was perfect. (of Course). Our table was walbly, could not cut the bread without table shaking. Finally waiter fixed with a napkin. then we got ready to leave, I picked up my purse off the floor, totally wet. Our Shoes were also drenched. Apparently we were sitting by the door where the kitchen was, and water had came out of kitchen, all over the floor where our table was. Ruined my Vera Bradley Cloth purse. . My husband will not go back. I will see the place was absolutely beautiful, and service was impeccable.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Amazing space
    Chix
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    Cena is a beautiful space, the food is amazing, the service by Fernando was very attentive. The heirloom tomato selections in the seasonal salad were fresh and the cheese was soft and delicious. The gnocchi with fennel sausage was perfectly fluffy - I only wish the serving was a little bigger. The only inconvenience is the lack of cell service in the restaurant. I will definitely go again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent food. Real Italian !
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013VIP
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    Wine selection is very good with affordable price. The menu is well organized with ample variety.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great except for the loud music
    Fresh
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    We enjoyed every dish that we tried at Cena, and the waiter was well trained to explain the menu in detail. Wine was reasonable enough given the quality. The only problem is that this was a special occasion--an anniversary-- and the music was so loud that it was often hard to speak at the table. Loud music lessened our enjoyment of a otherwise excellent meal. We complained to the waiter and the manager about the music but they said they could do nothing.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Zed
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 7/19/2014
    Average at best in all categories. 1st and second menu choices were not available, wine requested not available and substituted. Lastly, it always irks me when the staff comes by and interrupts any conversation. A short pause until a break in discussions in appropriate. Interjection indicates the staff time is more important than the dining experience. We should expect more when paying higher end prices.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Unique
    FoodFan
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    Uniquely different ambience, the food presentation was very well done and the balance of flavors was meticulous and fresh. Just became one of my favorite restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yet another great find
    ropoVIP
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    This is dining experience lived up to all the buzz around the restaurant from friends and critics. Service was great. Drinks were very slow arriving but the waiter kept updating us as not to neglect. Very much appreciated. When they arrived, worth the wait! Appetizers- sliders, crab blt and campfire breakfast shared for a group were the best set of appetizers I have had in years. Really, the meal could have just ended there. Entrees were good. Disappointed that they ran out of scallops at 730pm, cod was good but a bit on the salty side. Pork entree was well-received. The ambiance is amazing, very trendy and chic. We can't wait to return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pleasantly surprised
    chocolate
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    The menu is a bit different, but they do an outstanding job with blending flavors into delicious. We were a party of 6 and between us had 5 different entrees. Everyone was pleased with their selection. Great find for a special occassion
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    An excellent experience, we have enjoyed this establishment since it opened. As always excellent food and service and great atmosphere.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Best dining experience in Kentucky
    BBNYPAKY
    Dined on 7/4/2014
    Simply put, this is some of the best food, possibly THE best food, in Louisville. The decor is lovely, the tables are widely spaced, the drinks (some being original cocktails and twists on familiar ones) are outstanding, the staff is young and very knowledgeable, aware, and on top of everything. You can imagine yourself in New York or Las Vegas or anyplace you want to get away to while having some of Fernando Martinez's signature stylish dishes. Go here for recent info: http://louisville.eater.com/tags/fernando-martinez And go eat there now!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • JettRink
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    3 orders of scallops, but all were gritty. Accompanying greens difficult to eat. While meal was less than it should have been service was excellent. Second time meal did not live up to first experience.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Not worth it
    Louisvillediner
    Dined on 7/2/2014
    The ambience was amazing. Drinks were great, try The Purple Rain. Our server was overly friendly, nosy, and entirely too talkative. At times to the point of being rude. The food presentation was stunning and the flavor was excellent. Food portions were small and prices were entirely too high; both my brother and I left hungry. My food was lukewarm, at best. I would not suggest eating at The Place Downstairs. The other restaurants, by the same owner, are a much better over-all dining experience. Try Mussel and Burger, Mojitos, and Havana Rumba.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Wonderful meals
    BBNYPAKY
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    A truly special place, lacking only a view (it is, after all, downstairs, and has no windows). The food is spectacular and reasonable (though rising in price as popularity of the place grows rapidly). It just added Tuesday nights to make five open nights a week (Tues-Sat). Great unique cocktails, unusual twists on old favorites and some very good new ones. There is exceptional food for almost all palates. Try one of the "jars" (I recommend both the one with vegetables and the one that is something of a smoked egg breakfast) as a stand alone snack or in place of an appetizer, but, be warned, they can be filling ... and addictive. We can't stop going back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Very solid, if not spectacular
    Milt
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    I was extremely excited to try TPD after what I'd been reading. At the end of the meal though, I have to admit I was a little let down. Not bad in any way, just not sure I'm buying into the top restaurant in town hype. Very solid, if not spectacular. Maybe my expectations were a little high. I found the ambiance to be lacking. After the initial coolness of arriving by elevator to the basement, the space itself is pretty bland and laid out in a weird way. It is a huge step down in ambiance from other top tier restaurants and lacks energy. There were a few really high points: white asparagus soup, the smoked leak in the scallop dish. But a few that weren't as exciting as hoped: octopus terrine, ribeye filet Worth trying for sure.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good anniversary dinner
    Luvgdfd
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    We celebrated our 11th anni here. Food was great and service was terrific. Food not for everyone though. Somewhat limited.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • 👍
    GretaVIP
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    I had no idea The Place Downstairs existed until it popped up on my Open Table App! I'd been to Mussel & Burger Bar a few times too! The Place Downstairs was not only delicious, it was super swanky and romantic! A perfect date spot! Order the Spring Salad and the Beef Sliders! My boyfriend ordered the Filet and loved it! You sort of forget you're in Louisville when you visit The Place Downstairs!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • DearRach
    Tweetsoutalot
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    We tried The Place Downstairs because we adore Mussel and Burger Bar, the restaurant upstairs. I was extremely disappointed in our waiter. It took 15 minutes for him to even get our drink order, many empty tables, so it wasn't a busy night. Ten minutes later drinks arrived and my cabernet had turned into an unknown white. I asked him to correct it and that took another 8 minutes, with no apology. Our food was hit and miss. Hit - Iberico Ham appetizer - authentic and a taste buds delight. Maybe they just a bit more time to settle in.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • louisville new STAR !!
    TomSVIP
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    we had a wonderful evening ! let the chef feed you . We had the 5 course dinner outstanding Make sure you try the Scallops or Rib eye
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Best high-end food in Louisville
    BBNYPAKY
    Dined on 6/26/2014
    This place has the best food in Louisville. Try it now while it is still moderately priced (as it is becoming more popular the prices are rising ...) The new twist on the Old Fashioned, TPD's special cocktail menu, is a wonderful tasty twist on an old favorite (no pun intended). The place can be noisy, but the wait staff is on top of their game, eager to please, and pays careful attention to guests. Six stars.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate