Nel Centro
Nel Centro

Nel Centro

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.nelcentro.com/
  • Phone: (503) 484-1099
  • 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
148 reviews since July 29, 2014
Overall Rating4.2
  • Food4.3
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance4.2
    Noise LevelModerate
93% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (74)great for outdoor dining (70)good for groups (57)great for lunch (48)special occasion (47)vibrant bar scene (40)neighborhood gem (37)hot spot (29)notable wine list (23)romantic (16)great for brunch (9)late-night find (8)scenic view (5)kid-friendly (3)Show More
  • Recommend
    MegPDX
    Dined on 11/22/2014
    We had the pate and calamari starters; both very good. The calamari was tender and lightly battered. Would say the calamari starter was excellent had the tentacles been whole--for some reason they were cut up making them awkward to eat. I had the sturgeon special and it was excellent! I only go to retaurants where having a conversation with normal voice levels is possible--Nel Centro's passes this test. It is noisy, but you can hear your table mates unlike some of the other "hot" restaurants in Portland (like Ava Gene's).
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great spot for lunch. Love the mid-century decor.
    OregonMiss
    Dined on 11/21/2014
    In the winter, sit near the ovens so you will be warmer. Our first table was next to the door and every time it opened, we had a blast of cold, winter air. I asked for a table away from the door and we were re-seated at a much warmer table next to the pizza ovens. In the summer, I'm sure I would rather be away from the ovens! I ordered the pork sandwich with fries. Nice combination of flavors and the fries are the crispy, skinny kind that I like best. I've had the roasted chicken salad on prior visits. Good for a summer lunch. My companion had the mushroom and gorgonzola pizza. Very rich and decadent. She ate half and took the rest home. Come with a big appetite.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not the same Nel Centro
    Disappointment
    Dined on 11/9/2014
    We have been many times Some food was not hot Waitress overworked All food was not served at the same time
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good food, nice dining room
    Vinylmaven
    Dined on 11/9/2014
    One of our go-to places downtown, and consistently pleasing. Very tasty Italian food with some notable pasta dishes. I especially enjoyed the cacciucco on our visit. Thanks to the atmospheric dining room, it seems particularly nice before or after a concert.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delightful City dining
    JETH
    Dined on 11/9/2014
    This is a great restaurant for a downtown meal with view of city life, good food, and exciting ambience. We particularly liked the jazz music in the background speakers. During jazz festival time we've heard live music there.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, notable wine list, romantic, scenic view, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Lovely spot for Lovely brunch
    Operalovers
    Dined on 11/9/2014
    We couldn't decide on what to eat as everything look wonderful. The brunch egg sandwich with prosciutto was excellent. Rich and satisfying. My friend chose the lamb burger and declared it very tasteful.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, scenic view, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fast service, great food!
    kellette
    Dined on 11/7/2014
    It was a packed house, Friday night but you'd never know from the fast service. We had Caeser salad, I had the spicy shrimp pasta, husband had the boat meat pasta. Very good, great portion size. We finished with the butterscotch cheesecake-so good! Highly recommend Nel Centro!
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A great start to a fun night out
    Anightout
    Dined on 11/7/2014
    We had no idea how perfect our whole dining experience would be at Nel Centro. The food, the wine, and the service were all exceptional. Our server appeared to really enjoy what she does and helped make our whole experience even better. Very classy operation!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Met Expectations Overall
    JCFOOD
    Dined on 11/4/2014
    Since we have lived in Portland for the last three months, we have heard nothing but good things about Nel Centro. It was a perfect place for a birthday luncheon with our visitors from CA. The lamb burger is outstanding as well as the pork sandwich. Although the chicken salad with grapes and hazelnuts was tasty, the hazelnuts were missing. Good waiter. Decent house wine.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Consistently Excellent!
    bjadmanVIP
    Dined on 10/28/2014
    I cannot say enough about Nel Centro. The food is consistently fresh, flavorful and unique. The service is excellent and the staff always makes you feel special. Manager Michelle is warm, friendly and always there to check in with you and your guests to make sure all is well. This is my favorite restaurant in the city to take clients. Well done.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Bon Apetit at Nel Centro
    PortlandNative
    Dined on 10/27/2014
    Great service, expansive menu selection, quality food, outstanding service and attention to detail. If you are in downtown Portland, I recommend that you visit Nel Centro for a special occasion or an important business meeting/meal.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful spot
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    Every time we come here, the food is delicious and we have a fabulous time.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Repeat Customer
    OregonDinerVIP
    Dined on 10/24/2014
    I have never been let down by the soup at Nel Centro - the Creamy Cauliflower soup was delicious. Salmon was the special - and was perfectly cooked with interesting combinations that really worked well together. Early on in the evening but happy hour in full swing - it can get a little loud so, if you want a quiet spot, request to sit at the opposite end of the restaurant, away from the bar.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • What a disappointment!
    Curley
    Dined on 10/21/2014
    I and my friend ate at Nel Centro before the Bob Dylan concert at the Keller, which was starting at 8. The reservation was for 6:15. Plenty of time, right? We didn't get our food until after 7. I had pappardelle with wild boar ragout. Humph. The pasta was perfect and delicious. The "wild boar " was basically pulled pok in tomato based sauce. Not icky, but not really good. On the other hand, my friend had salmon cooked to order over roast veg and loved it. The restaurant was slammed that night so delay is understandable, but an hour?
    Special Features:
    hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Depends on what you're looking for
    dumoyer2
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    When people seated after you are having their order taken while you are still waiting to meet your server, when your food starts to arrive and you're still waiting for your drinks, when the wrong entree is placed before you before the error is pointed out and it is whisked away, these are examples of a restaurant in need of service improvement. On the plus side, I love that each table has it's own mini pepper grinder, a trend long overdue. Food is tasty, in particular the duck leg confit was wonderful but something about the salad which wasn't called a Caesar but had an entire anchovy half on it was a bit strange. I'd choose Nel Centro for drinks, bar bites and a truly lovely outdoor dining area before or after the theater.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    I love you fish specials. I always have the tiramisu. Nel Centro is my go to place before every ballet performance.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Nel Centro
    kansasona
    Dined on 10/11/2014
    We went to Nel Centro with reservation for five people. Food was good, but smaller portions and a bit pricey. Lots of noise especially if you go there before the concert, however on my reservation notes I asked for a place where it would be less noisy, and they placed us somewhat away from loud groups, which we appreciated very much. Wait for the food was a bit long. Our waitress was very engaging. We ordered a starter of calamari and lemonade, calamari were great, then we ordered five entree plates. Mine was Osso bucco, with lemon risotto. I very much liked the meat. Risotto was okay. For desserts, the best are pear almond gateau and chocolate croissant pudding. Overall a good place to dine with family on special occasions.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Excellent Choice
    MarDeeBeeVIP
    Dined on 10/9/2014
    New to Portland, love Nel Centro. Conveniently located. Good food. Fantastic service much appreciated!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 10/8/2014
    great food and great experience. a fun place to go to with friends or family. love the atmosphere and the location...right in center of town. would return again
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great patio area!
    vicnicVIP
    Dined on 10/8/2014
    The patio at Nel Centro is the place to be in the summer/fall if you are downtown. The service is always great here and the food is good. I always recommend Nel Centro to friends and business associates who are in town for business or pleasure.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fresh
    JennVIP
    Dined on 10/5/2014
    We ate at Nel Centro on a quiet Sunday evening. The food was fresh - we enjoyed delicious traditional Italian bolognese and a king salmon special. We didn't notice the fire pit area until after our meal - would recommend sitting outside, if capacity allows.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Corn & crispy prosciutto risotto!
    Nicknick
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    Terrific! Enough said.... Oh, and they created a dish for my vegan friend which she enjoyed very much....
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Net Centro makes a memory
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/28/2014
    The food and service were excellent. Met with an out of town friend in for a week of work in town. I picked Nel Centro to appeal to a wide range of tastes and due to it's location and reviews. The service was outstanding. Attentive without being pushy or overbearing. The food was outstanding. Our group had Calamari and a tomato salad as starters. We had varied entrees which were all of high quality and the perfect portion size. My wife was even tempted by a desert from the menu (which she almost never does). Nel Centro was busy but quiet for a Sunday late afternoon/early evening. The valet parking at the attached hotel was worth every penny. All in all, a great experience that I look forward to repeating soon.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • LOMaxVIP
    Dined on 9/28/2014
    Great happy hour, terrific pastas, respectable wine list that pairs well with the food. Cant go wrong here.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent
    Wesley
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    Great cuisine though our entrées were a little late in coming. Excellent, professional and courteous service. Nice intimate ambiance though also fit for small groups.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    Our server was very gracious and did an outstanding job!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nel Centro maintains quality
    Praxismaxisdiner
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    As usual the quality here remains top notch. I have been dining here for years and have never had anything but a first rate experience. The menu offers change over time and each new effort works. Service remains top flight with friendly and knowledgeable wait staff. You can't go wrong here.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Yummy!
    WaikikWahineVIP
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    Wanted to take the chef home so could enjoy the great food everyday
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, late-night find, notable wine list, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A little disappointing
    DeeDeeVIP
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    We chose Nel Centro because of its outdoor dining area which is very nice. The servers were very attentive without being overbearing. Everything was pretty good, but the food was a bit disappointing. Two people in our party ordered the Salad Nicoise which was quite small and overloaded with endive. They left the majority of it on their plate. The lamb burger was reported as okay. I ordered the steak sandwich and it was bready and the meat was too chewy. When I took one bite the entire inside of the sandwich came out because you couldn't bite into the steak. The fries were outstanding. All in all we had a nice visit, but the food sure could have been better. We were disappointed because we have had better at Nel Centro.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • 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.