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The Center Cafe
The Center Cafe

The Center Cafe Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.thecentercafe.com/
  • Phone: (781) 455-8800
  • 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: American
  • 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 (781) 455-8800
  • Entertainment: We offer musical entertainment for special events.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Eaton Square
  • 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.Continued
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerAmerican
  • Diners' Choice WinnerNeighborhood Gem
Diner Reviews
  • "Staff is constantly yelling at each other, service was slow."
    Dined on 7/16/2014
  • "My wife and I went to the Center Cafe on a Wednesday night. I ordered the seafood special which included scallops, shrimp, calamari, and clams. The calamari was overcooked & smelled old. The clams were oily and not sweet. I was unable to eat either of them. The scallops & shrimp were good. When the owner came over & asked how everything was, I informed him that the calamari & clams were terrible and he was free to try them. His response was that he doesn't eat while he is working. That was it. No offer to bring me something else or to remake the food. So I ate half my dinner. When the bill came, there was no compensation for being served a non edible meal. On the way out the owner thanks us for coming. We will never come back."
    Dined on 7/16/2014
  • "AS usual, good food, good service. Have eaten thre svral times and never been disappointed"
    Dined on 7/8/2014
  • "An excellent small restaurant with an attentive owner, fine food and reasonable price tag. Wine selection was fine and per glass prices were reasonable in contrast to many other places. A veal and pasta dish were flavorful and duck breast was tasty. Creme brulee was excellent. Overall, well worth a visit."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "We dined here the other night and made our reservation via Open Table. We were greeted by the owner Steve who is very personable. The service and food were great. When in the Needham area again, I would go back for another delicious experience. The pricing was moderate and was a good value"
    Dined on 6/22/2014
  • "Great place that just keeps getting better. How many restaurants can you think of where they recognize and remember you when you only go a couple of times a year? Forget the carbs and ask for the fresh hot bread. That alone makes the evening special. yes it is crwded and sometimes the service is a little slow but it is always friendly and the food is fabulous."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "Very reliable and chef does a nice job with sauces-- light and well flavored"
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "We so enjoyed our first visit to The Center Cafe. The restaurant is small and quaint and the owners were so welcoming. We started our meal with homemade bread right from the oven followed by a wonderfully crisp caesar salad. I enjoyed a steak that was cook perfectly and served over creamy mashed potatoes. My husband had a veal dish (I am always hesitant to order veal due to toughness). This veal, however, was so tender and flavorful. We had our two youngest children with us and they thoroughly enjoyed their chicken fingers and hamburger. Crayons and paper were an added treat! We wished we saved room for dessert....next visit!"
    Dined on 5/9/2014
  • "Nice owner, super tight seating. Didn't feel comfortable talking to my boyfriend since we were crammed between two other tables. We were also sat there when two other open tables with more space were available. However a local family owns it and the owners do a good job checking in and making pleasant conversation. I would go back but just request a different seating area. "
    Dined on 4/19/2014
  • "It is a rare outing lately to find I don't need to shout at my dining companions because of the outrageous noise levels in so many restaurants. This cozy neighborhood gem never gets too noisy even with tables in fairly close approximation. The service here is often a little uneven, but it has the feeling of being served by a family and they are doing the very best they can…the servers work hard, have multiple roles as do the owners. At the end of the evening any unevenness could be forgiven. Our 4 meals were uniformly OUTSTANDING! We will be back for excellent food and conversation."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "This is a family owned and managed fine dining restaurant. Very warm and friendly environment, fantastic menu, reasonable prices, homemade sorbet is a must."
    Dined on 3/8/2014
  • "The Center cafe consistently delivers. It provides wonderful, flavorful food while not being uptight or too fancy. the owner visits each table and will sit, chat and serve food. He makes you feel like you've entered the Cheers Bar (where everybody knows your name) coupled with the specialness of a night out."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "Great service, involved, but not in your face. The food was fresh, wonderfully prepared. Both my husband and I got the specials, and were both happy! So many layered flavors and textures - yummy!"
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "It was our first trip to The Center Cafe. Friends had given us a gift certificate, and we were so glad they did! The food was delicious, the service superb. Very friendly, enjoyable restaurant! Can't wait to go back!"
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "On a snowy night my friend and I decided to venture out to dinner. Luckily we found the Center Cafe. We were warmly welcomed and treated well by the owners and our waitperson. The food was well prepared and delicious.We had a great time and would definitely go back!!"
    Dined on 2/18/2014
  • "Certainly real chef-level dinner at quite reasonable prices, so excellent value. Décor nice but not fancy. Waitress was capable but not elegant in manner. Owner/mgr very friendly, sets a nice tone. On the whole, very pleased and will return."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Overall a great experience, everyone was very friendly. Service was great. Highlights were the apple squash soup, pork tenderloin and steak (perfectly cooked). Wines were reasonably priced. Ample portions so we didn't have room for dessert. Will have to return."
    Dined on 2/1/2014
  • "We live in Needham and Center Cafe is one of the best local places. Food iOS great, service is complete and the menu is wide enough for a good selection. Steve is the best host. And we don't have to drive to Boston opt one of the closer suburbs to enjoy a fine dining experience."
    Dined on 1/29/2014
  • "We had only been to The Center Cafe once previously, but we decided to give this neighborhood restaurant another try, and we are so glad that we did!! It is cozy, intimate, and family run. The service was outstanding. The food was excellent! I had a Caesar salad and my husband had a green salad. Both were fresh and delicious. We also split an order of four ribs. We enjoyed them very much. For our entrees, I had leg of lamb which I hadn't seen on a restaurant menu for a very long time! It was so flavorful and tender. I thoroughly enjoyed it! My husband had the salmon which was fresh and beautifully prepared. We highly recommend this restaurant. We can't wait to go back!"
    Dined on 1/14/2014
  • "In our neighborhood, a nice and quiet dinner, food was fine, wine was fine, service was excellent, the owners took great care of us in a personal way. We have enjoyed and will definitely come again!"
    Dined on 1/9/2014
  • "We have lived in Needham for 4 years and kept meaning to try this place, but then would forget about it since it's hidden away back off the street. Finally made it out one night and we will definitely be back. We were warmly welcomed by the owner and our server was quite friendly and personable. My veal marsala was perfect and the brownie sundae we split for dessert was just the right amount of decadent."
    Dined on 12/19/2013
  • "I like the family friendly ambiance of this family run restaurant. The bartender is very accommodating if you want a special drink."
    Dined on 12/13/2013
  • "My husband and I have been to this restaurant 3 times and each time the food has been great. . The owner is friendly. He makes you feel so welcome. We brought a friend with us the last time and she also loved the place."
    Dined on 12/8/2013
  • "I can't say enough about the Center Cafe. From the wonderful food, to the terrific staff and the warm welcome we received when we arrived, my friends and I had an extremely enjoyable dining experience. I would highly recommend the Center Cafe to friends and family!"
    Dined on 11/23/2013
  • "We always enjoy our visits to the Cafe. Steve and hisvstaffvare great they remember us each time and have some new taste treat to try."
    Dined on 11/22/2013
  • "Overall had an enjoyable evening. The food was very good and the restaurant had a good buzz. The wait staff was engaging and gave great recommendations."
    Dined on 11/15/2013
  • "Something for everyone on the menu. Great ingredients - fresh - delicious. Can't wait to go back!"
    Dined on 11/14/2013
  • "Center Cafe never disappoints. Food is presented well and is always delicious. Wait staff is friendly, attentive, and accommodating. A great place to dine."
    Dined on 11/2/2013
  • "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.."
    Dined on 10/26/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 10/18/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 10/12/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 10/9/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 9/27/2013
  • "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!"
    Dined on 8/16/2013
  • "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!"
    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."
    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."
    Dined on 8/10/2013
  • "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!!"
    Dined on 8/1/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 7/25/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 7/17/2013