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
33 reviews since May 26, 2014
Overall Rating4.2
  • Food4.5
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance3.9
    Noise LevelModerate
80% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (28)fit for foodies (12)special occasion (7)kid-friendly (4)notable wine list (3)romantic (2)great for brunch (2)great for outdoor dining (2)good for groups (2)great for lunch (1)Show More
  • It took 45 minutes for our
    RickVIP
    Dined on 12/26/2012
    It took 45 minutes for our dinners to be served. My son's Angus burger was cold, and my breast of duck was so undercooked that I wasn't able to eat most of it.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • We tried the Center Cafe on
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 12/23/2012
    We tried the Center Cafe on a whim and we are glad we did. The food was excellent--the pork loin with the apple and onion sauce was outstanding. The pork was so tender and the apples and onions were a perfect compliment to the dish. The substituted broccoli for the squash because of my food allergies (and were stellar in managing my extra long list of allergies). My dining companion loved fried scallops and the black bean burger. We had the brownie sundae for dessert--we asked for side cups of both the home made hot fudge and hot butterscotch sauce. Both were just amazing. We ate every bite! Service was really attentive and friendly. We will definitely be back!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Our first visit was much better
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 12/21/2012
    Our first visit was much better than our second.The risotto was bland and under cooked. Very disapointing! Maybe it was an off night. The staff is so friendly and it is so nice to have a local neighbrhood place, we will give it one more try!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Nice family run place where
    Steve
    Dined on 12/18/2012
    Nice family run place where the owner is attentive to the customer. The onion soup was quite good.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Service very slow. Kitchen
    flyfishVIP
    Dined on 12/15/2012
    Service very slow. Kitchen was overwhelmed. Food fine.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We ate here once before and
    food4meVIP
    Dined on 12/15/2012
    We ate here once before and had a good experience. Food was excellent, server attentive. But this time we came with another couple, and allowed an hour and a half before we needed to leave for a show. Our appetizer arrived about 45 minutes after we sat down, and when we inquired about our main courses 70 min. after arriving, we were told there was no way they could have us out by our deadline. They said they didn't do "fast," and that we should have told them if we needed to be out by a certain time. (Shouldn't an hour and a half be long enough?) We felt scolded. Two of us had to leave before the entrees came, so we got them to go. They never apologized, but gave us a gift card as we left (don't know the value).
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Gourmet "Comfort Food" in Needham
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 12/7/2012
    Center Cafe never disappoints! I brought a friend last week to celebrate her birthday, and it was a great occasion. She loved it, and made a point of saying that she'd definitely bring her husband some time for "date night." It is great to have this restaurant in Needham.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • A Local Delight
    CgaarVIP
    Dined on 12/1/2012
    What a nice experience. It is tucked out of the way, small, and low key. The food was good and the people were friendly. (I had a burger.) We felt like we knew the employees and guests there already. Highly recommended but don't too many of you heed my recommendations because I want to get a table next time I decide to go.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • We have always had a great
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 11/23/2012
    We have always had a great meal here! The owners greet you like you are old friends! You never feel rushed so it is a great place to sit with good friends, good food and relax!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Slow service plus a scolding
    marb
    Dined on 11/15/2012
    While the burgers we eventually got were tasty enough, the service was very slow, and when we inquired about where are entrees were--very politely, without whining, mind you--we got a response from the owner, who was defensive and a little testy, and then were approached by another senior staff member--we had not "complained" again--to give us what felt like a scolding, about how things worked at the restaurant, and how we hadn't really been waiting as long as we claimed to have been. Uncalled-for, was the consensus at my table, and it took some effort to remind ourselves to "let it go" and try to have a nice time. All in all, none of us will be tempted to go back after that experience.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • From the moment you enter
    OpenTable Diner Since 2003VIP
    Dined on 11/4/2012
    From the moment you enter you feel the warmth. The owners and staff are friendly, kind and caring. The food is wonderful and the service is outstanding. I would recommend this restaurant to all.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Went on a very busy Sunday
    Needsher
    Dined on 11/4/2012
    Went on a very busy Sunday dinner time for this restaurant; service was great - attentive without being intrusive. Menu options tend to lean toward basic American but the preparation and delivery were fabulous. A small gem (pleasant decor) hidden behind the Rice Barn (on Great Plain Avenue) and next to the MBTA commuter rail stop.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A Go To Place
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 11/3/2012
    This is a friendly relaxed restaurant with right sized servings including a good variety of sides and reasonable prices. The wine selection is good. The entrees, especially fish dishes, are cooked to perfection and never disappoint. The soups are light on flavor. The kitchen is small expect slightly longer waits for food on busy weekend nights. Make reservations.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • We've always had great meals
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 10/26/2012
    We've always had great meals here. We're looking forward to coming back for the veal.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • After a disappointing previous
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 10/24/2012
    After a disappointing previous visit (service was excruciatingly slow) we gave it another shot and it was better this time, although still a bit slow with the meal coming out even though it was not crowded. But the food continues to be very good!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • I had the salmon which was
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 10/20/2012
    I had the salmon which was good. My husband had the lamb which he enjoyed. Our waitress was very good.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We had been to the Center
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 10/13/2012
    We had been to the Center Cafe 3 times before and had been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food & service. Unfortunately, this time was disappointing. Initially all seemed fine. We ordered a bottle of wine & placed our order. The salads came promptly and were good. Then we waited...and waited...and waited. We finished the bottle of wine and tried to locate our waitress or owner to no avail. Finally we went to find the waitress ( this is 1 1/2 hrs. after we arrived!) and when asked where our meal was, we're told we were " third in line". We ordered additional glasses of wine which took 15 more minutes. No apology or explanation was ever given. Although the food was very good, we will hesitate to go back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great food, a nice selection...trul
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 10/6/2012
    Great food, a nice selection...truly, the best neighborhood restaurant in Needham.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Friendly and knowledgable
    metrowest
    Dined on 9/30/2012
    Friendly and knowledgable owner/hosts. All the food is good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • There's a reason we eat here
    ChowCats
    Dined on 9/28/2012
    There's a reason we eat here regularly. The cafe's just changed its menu to fall, and Friday's onion soup special was a great way to welcome in autumn (according to my husband, the onion soup fiend). My pick on the new menu is the sole meuniere on a bed of baby spinach...
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Our overall experience at
    jmdee
    Dined on 9/22/2012
    Our overall experience at The Center Cafe was very enjoyable. It was our first time at the restaurant as we had not heard anything about it, and decided to give it a try. My friends and I thoroughly our meals and would definitely recommend this restaurant to acquaintances.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • I booked this restaurant on
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011VIP
    Dined on 9/16/2012
    I booked this restaurant on the basis of its good reviews as I had not even seen it in Needham as it is situated off the main street down by the railway line. It was extremely quiet in the restaurant however, it was a Sunday evening and early. The food was generally well prepared and well flavoured although the black bean burger was rubbery and needs review in my opinion. The staff were very friendly and highly attentive but I got the feeling that, as a family with teenagers, we were something of a novelty. I really wanted to like this restaurant but I feel that it needs some updating and is better suited to older diners.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Good food, reasonable prices.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 9/15/2012
    Good food, reasonable prices. It is obvious many of the patrons are regulars and that the owner remembers them all. Though it is a drive for me, I will be back.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Really nice experience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 9/14/2012
    This was our first time at the Center Cafe. Atmosphere is not fancy. Kind of crowded, but this thrust us up against another table where some very nice people were sitting, and we spent a good deal of enjoyable time talking with them and getting to know them. The food was really good, all of it -- in most of our dining-out experiences there are one or two dishes that are not so great, but when we went to the Center Cafe, everything was good. The service is personal and friendly. It's a family run establishment and feels like one (in a good way). We were surprised at how nice the whole experience was and we plan to return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • What a great place. This
    Chopper731VIP
    Dined on 9/11/2012
    What a great place. This visit was the first of many to come.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very much enjoyed our experience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 9/8/2012
    Very much enjoyed our experience there - will come back again. We had an 8 pm reservation and the restaurant was busy - in the midst of changing over several tables. Due to this fact, the service was a bit slow for our preference but the owner was very attentive and even suggested an alternative Pinot Noir to the bottle we ordered and came over and poured quite a large pour for us to try. Very relaxed casual atmosphere. Food was quite good. I had the salmon and my husband had the steak - cooked to perfection and very tasty. Looking forward to coming back again.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The owner participated in
    biff
    Dined on 9/8/2012
    The owner participated in busing tables and visiting with customers. Impressive.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, notable wine list, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • I am shocked at the positive
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 9/8/2012
    I am shocked at the positive reviews for this restaurant. We should have left when we walked in. I noticed the cook at the open kitchen arguing and throw something (food or a rag). Several families with children complained about the wait for food. The food was so subpar that I wouldn't even consider going back there. My fish appeared to be microwaved. It was a disappointment and a waste of money.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • We were very pleasantly surprised
    BudgetGourmet
    Dined on 9/7/2012
    We were very pleasantly surprised by this restaurant which replaced another one in the same location. The atmosphere is very casual and friendly. The food was delicious with beautiful presentation which belied the decor, which is nothing special. The server was excellent - friendly without being overbearing and knowledgeable. We will definitely go back!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Truly a neighborhood gem.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 9/6/2012
    Truly a neighborhood gem. Prices are reasonable, food is excellent value as is the wine list which is more extensive (but not expensive) as one might expect. Staff is very attentive and good humored, with special attention from the owner.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • The inter action by owners
    meme4934
    Dined on 8/18/2012
    The inter action by owners was fantastic.Thought we were is a country Inn and not in downtown Needham
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • It doesn't take a white tablecloth
    ChowCats
    Dined on 8/10/2012
    It doesn't take a white tablecloth to have a great meal. Note to diners: always order the special - it will be worth it. The fish stew, made with clam and corn broth, was sensational. The chocolate and raspberry sorbets - made on the premises - are a perfect end to a summer meal. Never thought I was one who would make a particular restaurant a 'regular' - but this made my understand why you would.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • The chef's willingness to
    A123VIP
    Dined on 7/28/2012
    The chef's willingness to cater to the dietary needs of the restaurant patrons sets this restaurant apart. They even substituted a gluten free roll for the traditional bread at the beginning of the meal. The quality of the food exceeded our expectations for this neighborhood restaurant quietly situated in the Needham Center parking lot adjacent the train.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Has become our "go to" restaurant.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 7/27/2012
    Has become our "go to" restaurant. Food and cocktails are excellent and CONSISTANT...
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Center Cafe proves that you
    ChowCats
    Dined on 7/21/2012
    Center Cafe proves that you don't need an intimidating menu or white tablecloths to make for a great dining experience. They understand sauces, seasonings, and the strategic use of herbs, as well as the small 'table attention' details (don't bring the check until asked; don't clear one plate until all diners have finished eating) that many places forget in the rush. We've been several times, but brought a friend for her first time - she was nothing short of delighted.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Top on our list was the service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 7/19/2012
    Top on our list was the service at center Cafe. Our server and the owners were all friendly and professional. The food was excellent. The only negative was that my friend's friends were not all hot. We loved that there was an option of smaller portions. Great offering! We will return!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food and the owners
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007VIP
    Dined on 6/30/2012
    Great food and the owners come around and make you feel like you are in their home. Try the home made chocolate sorbet!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • A nice neighborhood restaurant.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 6/22/2012
    A nice neighborhood restaurant. Many choices on the menu and the food was very good.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • In terms of physical appearance
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 6/21/2012
    In terms of physical appearance inside and out, it is mediocre. In fact, when my friend and I arrived, I was feeling very disappointed. Thought it would be more classy. But we did stay and were very glad we did. Service was excellent, friendly and accommodating. But the best part was the food. It was as good (better actually) than any much higher class place I have ever been to. Tables were a little close together - hard to have a conversation without imposing on the people next to us. Definitely a hot spot. A little hard to find, not situated on Great Plain Ave as the other storefronts are. It's actually an old train station. So if you park along GP Ave, you need to know that it fronts on the train tracks, just behind a building on GP
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • I always enjoy the food and
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 6/17/2012
    I always enjoy the food and the excellent, very friendly service. Would always recommend.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet