The Center Cafe
The Center Cafe

The Center Cafe

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.thecentercafe.com/
  • Phone: 7814558800x
  • Hours of Operation:


    Dinner Only:

    Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm

    Thursday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm


    Closed Mondays


    Summer Hours: Closed Sunday and Monday
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Seafood, American, Vegetarian
  • Executive Chef: Vanessa Cortesi
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Beer, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Private Party Contact: Steve Waller 7814558800x
  • Entertainment: We offer musical entertainment for special events.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Needham Bank/Eaton Square Pedestrian Walkway
  • Public Transit: We are on the commuter rail line at Needham Center Station.
  • Parking: Public Lot
  • Parking Details: There is a new and expanded free municipal parking lot across the train tracks from our front door and a free municipal lot in in back of the restaurant.
A word from The Center Cafe
Great food. American Cuisine. Outstanding chefs, Attentive service. Local farms, fresh produce and poultry. Varied Wine List. Creative specialty drinks. Come Discover Needham Dining. A neighborhood restaurant tucked away in the center of Needham. In Home Cooking Coach is a personalized coaching and training service provided to you by our chefs. Visit www.inhomecookingcoach.com for details.
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerNeigborhood Gem
  • Diners' Choice WinnerAmerican
The Center Cafe reviews from OpenTable diners
35 reviews since June 26, 2014
Overall Rating4.4
  • Food4.5
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance4.1
    Noise LevelModerate
82% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (28)fit for foodies (15)special occasion (6)good for groups (5)kid-friendly (3)notable wine list (3)great for brunch (2)great for outdoor dining (2)great for lunch (1)hot spot (1)late-night find (1)Show More
  • Slipped
    flyfishVIP
    Dined on 10/26/2013
    Have eaten here many times. Owner/manager tries very hard. Had different wait staff this time and service was very slow and not particularly attentive. I cointinue to think that it is understaffed. Food was not up to usual standard just OK..
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • First rule: ALWAYS try the specials
    ChowCats
    Dined on 10/18/2013
    Vanessa is a great executive chef, and she knows sauces like no one's business. The ocean perch was served on a small mound of cappellini that had been tossed with delicate pieces of asparagus and green beans, lightly finished with a touch of lemon... Glad to see Center Café doing well.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Good local eats
    feodell
    Dined on 10/12/2013
    This is a good casual dining spot at a reasonable price. It was just what I was looking for when I wanted to eat out with friends and just catch up without feeling hurried. Casual, friendly and reasonably priced. Food was good for the price with ample portions.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • An ordeal
    WhitS
    Dined on 10/9/2013
    Eating here was an ordeal from beginning to end. The "homey" banter from owner and staff begins immediately upon entering, and doesn't relent. The wine menu isn't at all accurate (they're missing many bottles and years are incorrect), the staff is mouthy and intrusive without being helpful. The owner is overwhelmed and overly-familiar (please don't give my son a shoulder massage when I've never met you before). The food took forever. We arrived at 6:30pm on a Wednesday and didn't get food until 8:15pm. Guests at other tables got up and left without getting served because they couldn't wait any longer. Food was okay, and wine was decent. Avoid.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Friendly Find in Needham
    Brosef
    Dined on 9/27/2013
    As a former chef and restaurateur I can be very picky, but my family and I found this to be a welcoming place that we will return to. The food was excellent, and I can't remember a friendlier staff. It was our family's first time dining here. The hosts actually shook our hands and thanked us for coming as if we had been regular patrons that had been coming for years. This place is a gem.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • True Gem!
    BostonianVIP
    Dined on 8/16/2013
    I have been there three times in the past month, just beacuse it is SO great! Relaxing, fun amazing family/service, fabulous food, just all around great! Casual elegance, you feel like you are eating at their home. So cozy and comfortable! Make sure you have their vanilla ice cream with butterscotch/caramel sauce (they make) and have them add some banannas, touche! Everything is fresh and so darn YUMMY! I have had their lamb chops, duck and last time their Blue Fish special. All were so fantastic, I want to keep going and try each main course. Nothing like watching the train go by!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • They never fail!
    BostonianVIP
    Dined on 8/10/2013
    This is my second time and my first time for my husband to eat at Center Cafe! He travels a lot therefore doesn't get too excited about any restaurant. The next day early in the morning while driving to go play golf, he texted me and confessed that this restaurant was GREAT! The food, service, and the feeling of being special to the point that you feel like you are eating/being treated at their home for dinner, makes this spot so special!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great neighborhood find!
    LilaVIP
    Dined on 8/10/2013
    This is a wonderful family-owned business with a warm atmosphere, excellent food, drinks, and service. I would recommend this place for any occasion.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Nice Surprise
    CarolVIP
    Dined on 8/10/2013
    This was the first time that my husband and I dined at the Center Cafe. We did not really know what to expect. The food was very tasty and the staff was very friendly. We felt comfortable in a place where we did not know anyone. We will definitely go back.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Find
    ObjectiveCriticVIP
    Dined on 8/1/2013
    Center Cafe is a real find. It is a true neighborhood restaurant with excellent food, a surprisingly large and good menu supplemented with specials, friendly and attentive service, and an owner who makes every customer feel at home. Bravo!!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always enjoy
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 7/25/2013
    our visit to the Center Café. While the food isn't traditional comfort food, you definitely feel comfortable being there and the food is always very good. Friendly staff and remember you when you come in. Owner Steve is a great guy, very engaging and the staff takes care of you. Food is very good and always well prepared. They take pride in their place and it shows. Not a fancy place but the focus is more on the food and the service and that is important to me. We go there often.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The food was great but....
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 7/17/2013
    The food at the Center Cafe is very good; both my husband and I enjoyed our meals of lamb chops and sole, one of their more popular dishes. I particularly liked that you could get a petite portion -- in my case it meant two not three lamb chops -- but was disappointed when they couldn't (or wouldn't?) substitute my vegetable for another on the menu. Our waitstaff seemed more than a bit harried after what had turned out to be a crazy weeknight, but were amusing almost to the point of being whacky. The restaurant's decor was pretty much non-existent and I did not like that there was no table covering of any kind -- even though dessert was served on a spread out napkin -- go figure. Still, we enjoyed our meal and will be back.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Hidden away Gem!
    BostonianVIP
    Dined on 7/12/2013
    What a fabulous place for great food/service and fun. The owners are fabulous and make you feel like you are eating at their home. Nothing is a problem, they accomodate your every wish. The food is fesh and so yummy. Make sure you leave room for dessert!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Repeat pleasure
    flyfishVIP
    Dined on 7/5/2013
    This is a local gem with excellent food and reasonable prices. They seem to try very hard to please and generally succeed. We have eaten there at least half a dozen or more times and with the exception of one Saturday evening when they seemed to be overwhelmed have never been disappointed.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Warm and friendly atmosphere.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 6/30/2013
    Warm and friendly atmosphere. Comfort food. Would return.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great little spot
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 6/22/2013
    The Centre Cafe is a great local spot. We always enjoy the food and service. The lamb chops were excellent ! They were very tender and the sauce was delicious.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Excellent, personal service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 6/13/2013
    This is a great little place in Needham! Both times we've been there, the food was very good and the service was excellent.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Love the Sole'
    Swellsdiner
    Dined on 6/7/2013
    I have eaten here twice and both times I chose the sole! It is light, with just the right amount of lemon. This is a family run establishment, very warm and welcoming.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The Center Cafe is a true
    Catheter1VIP
    Dined on 6/7/2013
    The Center Cafe is a true Gem in Needham! Syeve paid great attention to our dining experience and the entire staff was great. Terrific food and drink!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Very friendly and good service
    5053
    Dined on 6/6/2013
    Very friendly and good service but also very noisy. Food was only fair. But they tried hard
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Wonderful gluten-free dining option
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 5/25/2013
    Staff paid extra attention to our gluten-free dining needs. Food was excellent!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great neighborhood gem
    NeedhamLeeAsh
    Dined on 5/25/2013
    Terrific service, engaging owner, friendly & personable wait staff, delicious food, very fairly priced. Try the home made sorbet for dessert!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointed
    Disspointed
    Dined on 5/21/2013
    It was a Tuesday night. Very slow evening. Only one waitress to take care of the whole room. Ordered an appetizer which was forgotten and no one apologized. Had to ask after quite a long time about when the dinner would be coming. Pork loin was tasty, but just slightly warm. Don't know if I would return.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Friendly, gluten free menu avail.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 5/19/2013
    Third visit. I need GF food and they master it- including GF rolls so you don"t feel left out when everyone else is enjoying their bread. The ribs are great- tasty,large portion, not too messy . My gluten eating friends loved the pasta with salmon dish- light cream sauce. Also the chicken cutlet was yummy. A number of the items are offered in petite portions. This is a family run place, very friendly The owner is attentive to guests, filling in where needed. The small dining area can accomodate larger groups although that can potentially tax the kitchen as everything is made to order. There is a 5-6 seat bar as you enter the building which was formally a small train station right at the commuter rail in Needham.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Just lovely!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 5/17/2013
    I brought 2 friends, one of them a lady of 92. We had very nice drinks, and the food was superb. I particularly like that the menu has a number of items with a 'petite' option: smaller portions. My friends had burgers with various toppings, which they said were excellent. I had lamb chops with layered potatoes and broccoli (petite portion). Very very good. The waitress was very attentive and helpful. The owner Steve welcomed us and came by several times to check on us. All in all, a great evening.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Sad experience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011VIP
    Dined on 5/1/2013
    Owner was very nice and friendly however the food just didn't match up.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Casual gem in Needham! Very
    SFvisitorVIP
    Dined on 4/28/2013
    Casual gem in Needham! Very good food! The owners are very attentive with great humor!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Place
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 4/28/2013
    We are from Western MA and found this restaurant with the highest level of ratings on both Open Table and Yelp. Another out of town guest was staying at the Sheraton and this was the closest place with the best ratings. We were greeted by the owner who was friendly and attentive. It felt as if we were visiting his home. The food was outstanding. Every one at our table raved about the food. The service exceeded expectations - even the kitchen staff stuck their heads out to thank us for our business. I would recommend this to locals as well as visitors from wherever. Great find!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The food at the Center Cafe
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 4/25/2013
    The food at the Center Cafe is out this world. The service is swift and not intrusive. The atmosphere is low key and very friendly. It is like visiting a friend for dinner. We love this place and visit as often as we can.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • It was a good experience.
    MarKevVIP
    Dined on 4/20/2013
    It was a good experience. The food was good, the atmosphere was alright, but the service was outstanding!!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • First time diner. Enjoyed
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 4/13/2013
    First time diner. Enjoyed very much. Table ready when arrived. Service was excellent and owners were very attentive!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Center Cafe is our go to spot
    CathyL
    Dined on 4/7/2013
    Center Cafe is our go to spot when we aren't sure where to go. The food is always good and the hospitality is unlike any place else. So glad to have them here in Needham!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Tucked away in an old train
    Laurie
    Dined on 4/6/2013
    Tucked away in an old train depot, The Center Cafe is a hustling and bustling spot. Dining here is like going to a friend's house for dinner, with the staff greeting you as you enter and depart by an open kitchen. The starters, a spinach and arugula salad and a plate of prociutto and mozzarella, were delightful. The lamb was delicious and perfectly cooked, and the salmon pasta was so delicious, we wanted to lick the bowl. The wine list is impressive, with many good wines at affordable prices. We'll definitely return.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • great food and great service-Very
    Ronnie
    Dined on 3/13/2013
    great food and great service-Very involved management-and eager to please!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Center Cafe is a fine addition
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 3/13/2013
    Center Cafe is a fine addition to Needham's restaurants. The food was very good, and we felt comfortable in the room, except that at times it was loud enough so that conversation was difficult.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • The Center Cafe is a great
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 3/6/2013
    The Center Cafe is a great place for "comfort food" made to great standards. The seafood is always cooked just done, nice and moist and the duck and other meat dishes are simply but finely crafted. On this night I tried the new Regular Wednesday Night Special, Pan Fried Crispy Pork Chop and found its light coating kept the chop moist and tasty, as good as any I can remember. My wife had the Grilled Salmon filet and both pork and salmon were delightfully accompanied by the Dom Brunet Pinot Noir.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Centre Cafe - good comfortable food
    cageyleftyVIP
    Dined on 2/23/2013
    Nice "comfort food" restaurant by the Needham commuter rail station (which doesn't run on weekends, BTW). Both of us had very good meals, and attentive service, when asked to reheat one of the dishes, it was done quickly and efficently and tasted great. Would definitely go back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • This was our second visit
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 2/22/2013
    This was our second visit to the Center Cafe, the first being shortly after it first opened. If anything, it has improved with age. We had a very enjoyable evening. The food was very good, and the staff was friendly and helpful. The wait for our food was a bit on the long side,but we did not find it objectionable. It was a Friday night, the restaurant was filled, and they do have a small kitchen.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very pleasant and good food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 2/10/2013
    We go here frequently not only because of the freat food, but because of the staff..very friendly. always remember you and a great selection..they will always make room for you even if crowded and they vary the menu so it is always fresh..they also have a great cocktail menu..try this place..you will like it
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great little restaurant in Needham
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 1/26/2013
    We had a wonderful experience at the Center Cafe. I love that the owners are walking around and talking to the tables. Our waiter was fabulous! The food was even better than I remembered and we had a really great dining experience. My husband and I loved the potatoes au gratin very much - and the owners sent us the recipe via e-mail the next day. I will definitely be going back to the Center Cafe.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic