Nel Centro
Nel Centro

Nel Centro

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.nelcentro.com/
  • Phone: 5034841099x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Monday through Thursday: 6:30am - 11:00pm
    Friday: 6:30am - 12:00am
    Saturday: 7:30am - 12:00am
    Sunday: 8:00am - 11:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Italian, French
  • Executive Chef: David Machado
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Counter Seating, Entertainment, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Private Party Facilities: Private parties, meetings and banquets are available in our five attractive private dining rooms.
  • Private Party Contact: Brianne Rudolph 5034841096x

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Columbia
  • Parking: Valet
  • Parking Details: Valet parking is available adjacent to the restaurant at the Hotel Modera, 515 SW Clay Street.
A word from Nel Centro
Nel Centro

Aromatic herbs. Classic recipes. The sweep of history. Nel Centro is a modern, light-filled aria to one of the world's most revered cuisines.

Nel Centro (Italian for "in the center") explores the classic dishes of the Riviera and chef David Machado's passion for grand culinary traditions and locally sourced, seasonal food.

Reservations accepted for the main dining room only. Bar & patio seating are first-come, first-served. Happy hour available only in the bar and on the patio (4pm - 6pm every day).

Private parties, meetings and banquets are available in our five attractive private dining rooms.

Valet parking is available adjacent to the restaurant at the Hotel Modera: 515 SW Clay Street.
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Nel Centro reviews from OpenTable diners
160 reviews since May 26, 2014
Overall Rating4.2
  • Food4.2
    Service4.2
  • Ambiance4.2
    Noise LevelModerate
93% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
great for outdoor dining (92)fit for foodies (63)great for lunch (57)good for groups (56)special occasion (55)vibrant bar scene (51)neighborhood gem (32)hot spot (23)notable wine list (22)late-night find (17)romantic (15)great for brunch (11)kid-friendly (5)scenic view (4)Show More
  • Dinner came too soon
    RushedVIP
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    We have always had outstanding food and service at Nel Centro. This time, we ordered only the salmon entrees--four of us, but we also had cocktails beforehand. We barely had time to get halfway, maybe a third of the way, through our cocktails when our dinners arrived. We had also ordered a bottle of wine which we really could not drink until halfway through our dinner. It was all a bit rushed, but the restaurant was not full. I was very disappointed with the timing.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Tasty food in quiet restaurant
    pdxpearl
    Dined on 9/8/2014
    The restaurant was quiet enough for us to have a conversation, and the food was excellent. Everything we ordered was brought to us quickly, the portions were just enough for a dinner course, and the flavor combinations worked very well together. Their desserts are exceptional!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Sensational
    Lesolie
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    What a wonderful restaurant right in the heart of the city. Food is prepared perfectly, plated beautifully with exemplary service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Nel Centro
    Ptownfoodie
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    The food was really nice. I enjoyed the salmon special with chanterelles, corn, tomatoes etc. Very beautifully presented and tasted great. My husband chose the steak with the horseradish aioli and was equally impressed. The service was attentive as well.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Anniversary Dinner
    DOWF
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    The duck confit is the best ever. You can dress up or down here, it all works. Great service. Good pace.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Noweyman
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    Our second visit. Sat on patio and ordered from bar menu. Food and service were good. We'll definitely return
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Breakfast with a broad city view
    Zebraman
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    The large windows provide a great cityscape backdrop from any seat. Our ample booth was a wonderful place to visit and enjoy the Nel Centro Benedict with polenta cakes under perfectly poached eggs. Excellent service!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • lola
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    Beautiful sitting by the fire pits! The watermelon salad was fabulous, but we thought the main course pasta portions were rather small. Tiramisu bombe was yummy!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fabulous, of course
    Smartwoman
    Dined on 8/25/2014
    The outdoor space was perfect for our late lunch and, as always, the food, presentation, and service were all exceptional!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Lovely Meal
    FoodieDrinkie
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    The presentation and taste of the dishes were all well balanced, flavorful without being overpowering, beautifully layed out and well proportioned. It was an enjoyable experience with great service - attentive but not intrusive.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nice place to eat
    MnDNO
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    Nel Centro was a great place for a date night. The outdoor seating was nice and not too loud and the food was great. We preferred the fish to the pasta dish we ordered, but the flavors of both were quite good. The drinks were also excellent.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Dining
    PDXGlobaltraveler
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    Wonderful service. We were in a festive mood and our server was playful, and interactive - she really "read" us well and made us feel very comfortable. Her service and attention to detail and concern for us was outstanding. The food was presented well, although the steak look kind of lost on the giant plate. The contemporary ambience was just perfect; not pretentious and we had a truly lovely evening. Thank you!
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent
    PuraVida4YouVIP
    Dined on 8/20/2014
    I enjoyed dinner with friends from work while visiting from California. I liked it so much I returned the next night. The option of indoor or outdoor dining is at Nel Centro is fantastic. We dined outside both nights enjoying the lovely Portland weather in August. Our service was excellent both nights. We had a variety of choices from the menu and all the food was very good. I really appreciate adequate portions as oppossed the the Cheescake Factory excess. Special Recognition. I made a poor choice from the wine list I asked our server is we could reselect and she graciously accommodated my request. I can wait to get back to Portland to enjoy another visit to Nel Centro!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great patio scene
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011VIP
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    A perfect evening on the patio of Nel Centro. Brought out of town guest to dine at Nel Centro.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • A clean, well lighted place
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    The floor plan is very open, the decor is tastefully modern and the food is very good. Nel Centro is most definitely a go-to place for me when I want good food with great service. I've been here twice separated by about a year between visits. I definitely wanted to come here the second time specifically because I wanted what I had the first time, the spit-roasted pork loin.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Beautiful Interior
    AnnetteM
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    I had never been to Nel Centro. I have heard about it and when my coworker put it in her top 2 for a birthday luncheon I jumped at the chance. The interior was very well appointed. Marble floors, beautiful wood tables and chairs, it was very stunning and with all the floor length windows, very well lit with natural lighting. Their outside seating featured a purgola and bistro tables/chairs. Also appointed well. At a moment's notice they were very willing to move our 9 person group outdoors. Even though it was a beautiful day, we opted to stay indoors. Another fantastic aspect of this great venue is their easy accessibility for persons with disabilities.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Better than we anticipated!
    Nicknick
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    Couldn't get into 3 hotspots on a Saturday night & remembered we had drinks here before a show a few months ago. Hotel ambiance (nothing special, although last time we ate outside & it was lovely and hard to get a table)... Dinner for the 4 of us was defiantly worth a trip back. Service a little "hovering" (not crazy bad, but just enough for me to notice it). Calamari for an appetizer was fine, but nothing to write home about. The fresh tomato soup special had my husband waxing poetic.... Salad was nice. One of our party had spaghetti with a red sauce which was very appreciated by the Italian in the group. 2 had steak frites (liked them) & I had one of the BEST fresh corn & pancetta risottos I've ever eaten.... Going back!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Some food good, some less so
    Okfood
    Dined on 8/14/2014
    Nice spot, food just ok. Wagyu beef and other steak were very tough. Fries nothing special. Calamari ok, sauces nice. Salad nice. Papa radek every good...maybe best to stick to pastas. Spinach not special. Desserts were nice
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great group dinner!
    golfgal56
    Dined on 8/11/2014
    I arranged a last minute dinner for a party of 13. Nel Centro staff was very accommodating, and everyone enjoyed the meal/service/wine.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointment
    decor500
    Dined on 8/3/2014
    We had dinner at El Centro about a year ago, and it was lovely, with great service and very good food. This year (we were visiting Portland from Seattle), we had a very different experience. The food was all right, but not memorable. Our waiter was present in body, but gave the impression that her mind was elsewhere. She definitely was not into service. A haphazard attitude on the part of one's waiter can really influence the overall impression of a meal, including the taste.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • pdxfoodie
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    Lovely spot and on the whole very good food. A little disappointed in the pasta, the tomato and shrimp sauce on spaghetti seemed pretty ordinary and a little too much for the amount of pasta.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great server, average food
    PDXgolf
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    Exceelent wine list, server was very good, food was uninspiring and very average, nothing special in the kitchen
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 7/28/2014
    Made reservations at Nel Centro since we attended a function at nearby Keller Auditorium. After a very short walk we arrived and were promptly seated at a very nice table. Our dinner consisted of an appetizer, salad, and entree: lamb shoulder and spaghetti with shrimp. The food was excellent, portions were perfect. Best of all was our waiter. Throughout the evening he was very unobtrusive but very attentive to our needs. Great job Nel Centro. We will be back
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Group friendly
    Oper
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    We had a table of 9 and except for one missed second glass of wine all went well. Interesting and extensive menu. One waitress handled all of us. We appreciated her willingness to break down our orders for payment and we weren't charged 18 percent for a large group.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Fresh creative food, great service
    bluerangersfan
    Dined on 7/17/2014
    Takes full advantage of in-season ingredients. Creative, but unpretentious, preparations. Fava bean salad with pecorino & mint with superb. The bar is busy with the after-work crowd and the restaurant is full with the pre-show crowd, but the service is up to the tasks. Nice selection of wines too.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not a good date night restaurant
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 7/17/2014
    Very noisy hard to have a conservation. Food good but small portions. Tables too close to each other. Great staff very friendly.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Fancy Italian with a Twist
    soccerdoodmanVIP
    Dined on 7/17/2014
    Had a great dinner here with friends the other night. Our entire meal (salads, entrees, desserts) was excellent from start to finish.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Slow service, food ok.
    Jules
    Dined on 7/17/2014
    The service was terrible, it took almost fourty minutes to get our lunch. My tuna salad was not very good, greens did not look very fresh and the fish was not very tender. My guest enjoyed her chicken sandwich but we exeeded her one hour lunch by 30 minutes. The outdoor seating was the only good experience.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great spot for pre-theater meal
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 7/15/2014
    We had a group of 8 at Nel Centro for an early dinner before a show at the Keller Auditorium a few blocks away. They set up a lovely big table, with city window views and plenty of room for all of us. One couple was stuck in traffic and was a bit late, which the staff handled well. Waitress was very attentive and provided great service all night. As we were chatting and having cocktails, she let us know that we should get our food orders placed before the kitchen got too busy , so we'd stay on track for our show time. Everyone was pleased with their appetizers and dinners, and we made it to the show with a few extra minutes to spare. Would definitely go there again in the future!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • lovinglife
    Dined on 7/15/2014
    Our server was terrific with both drink and food recommendations! Everything was absolutely wonderful and our server made sure that we finished in time to walk to the theater. Great time with a group of friends!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fine food & drink for HH or dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 7/13/2014
    Nel Centro has one of Portland's better happy hours (in terms of price, quality, and variety), but sit-down dinner is fine, too. Tough to recommend a single item, although the pastas are tough to pass up (then again, so are the meat and fish). Full wine menu, knowledgeable staff, and meals seem to be brought by first available staff, which is always a plus. The lack of a separate gluten-free menu doesn't mean a lack of GF options.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent all around
    GD8256
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    The food was amazing, the service was fantastic. My fiance and I had a wonderful time here.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Dinner before a show
    SweetSue
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    My husband, teenaged son and I had dinner before a show at the Keller. Our server asked if we we're show-bound to ensure the timing of the meal. Our starter salads were delicious. My steak was cooked perfectly MR. My guys loved their pasta. We even had time for dessert. This is a fun and friendly spot. We'll be back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fabulous!!
    Iluv2dnc52
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    There were six of us for dinner, everyone chose something different and every dish was excellent - taste and presentation! Service was also superb. Our waitress was knowledgeable, willing to ask the kitchen for details, attentive without hovering and very accommodating. Can't say enough. And the prices are reasonable for an upscale place. Very attractive restaurant with lovely city views.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Pre-show dinner
    robbie
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    A group of 4 wanted to have dinner pre-show at the Keller Auditorium, someplace with good food and close by. Nel Centro was a perfect choice. I made an advance reservation with Open Table and was very happy to see that in spite of the restaurant being packed and about 5 minutes late, our table was ready! The food was excellent. Two of us had a salmon special and it was cooked exactly to my request. The restaurant was very busy with pre-show diners and our service was a little slow. We actually had to take our request to pay the bill to the host station as our waitress was not around. I would suggest staffing a little extra, knowing these show nights will be extra busy for a short duration. I would definitely recommend.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Staff and kitchen overwhelmed
    didgeVIP
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    We have dined numerous times at Nel Centro. Always enjoyed the experience and the food. We had 6PM reservations for 4 on a Tuesday night and the place was PACKED. Loud. Horrible service( It took 2 requests and 20 minutes to get my glass of wine.) We had tickets for a show at 8 PM about 3 blocks away and we didn't have time for dessert because the entrees came out so late. They never should have accepted our reservation request since the place was so packed! We made the request 2 days before the dining event. We like the place, but we'll call ahead next time to make sure we will have an enjoyable dining experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Creative kitchen, casual service
    strive2badeipnosophist
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    On the 90˚ day we dined, our booth next to the kitchen was uncomfortably warm. The food was quite good and well prepared and presented; however featuring asparagus when it is near the end of the season in an otherwise well conceived ravioli dish was a mistake. It was woody and flavorless, the asparagus–a mistake the executive chef, whom we presume does selects and buys produce for the kitchen, should not make. And the service: we waited over a half an hour before our drinks appeared. The server made apologies, stating the bartender was "overwhelmed." This was on an evening when many diners were there in advance of opening night for a major broadway show. Nel Centro prides itself on pre-theatre service. It fell short, very short.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great atmosphere, but food fading
    Merilee
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    We had dinner outside in the courtyard. Our meals were fair to good. Cocktails were creative and excellent. Soups fell short of the expectations set by their prices. Tomato soup had a cheerful tomato flavor but no depth, no lingering flavor. Pea, romaine, and mint soup was earthy, layered, though mintless. Salads were fresh, competent, nothing special. Entrees didn't arrive until we'd been there almost an hour and had to tell the servers we needed to leave soon. A salmon special was tasty with interesting veggies. A calamari appetizer was large-portioned and blah, its only flavor too much pepper. Cost for 2: $100. Worth it? Nel Centro is one of the great outdoor dining spaces, but I wonder if the food is being allowed to slide.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fantastic
    blessed
    Dined on 6/29/2014
    From the friendly greeting, to the cocktail, to the delicious brunch - everything was fantastic. The decore is modern, yet cozy and very natural looking. There is plenty of seating for large groups if needed. The outdoor area is also spacious and provides a nice setting with several firepits. A really nice place to go!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, scenic view, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Nel Centro = Good
    Dinermite
    Dined on 6/26/2014
    I took a group of clients to Nel Centro (chose the venue based on online reviews). The restaurant was very patient with me as the number in my group kept fluctuating. Great experience, good wine, great food, great service, and a great time with my clients. A good find in downtown Portland where like restaurants are hard to find.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic