The Center Cafe
The Center Cafe

The Center Cafe

  • 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: 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
34 reviews since August 1, 2014
Overall Rating4.6
  • Food4.6
    Service4.5
  • Ambiance4.3
    Noise LevelModerate
95% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (29)fit for foodies (19)special occasion (9)good for groups (8)notable wine list (5)kid-friendly (3)hot spot (2)late-night find (2)romantic (2)great for brunch (1)great for outdoor dining (1)great for lunch (1)scenic view (1)Show More
  • meandmom
    Dined on 11/22/2014
    THE CENTER CAFE IS A WONDERFUL PLACE TO DINE, WHETHER YOU JUST WANT TO GET OUT OR ARE CELEBRATING A SPECIAL OCCASSION. OWNERS STEVE AND KAREN WALLER ARE GREAT HOSTS, THAT TAKE PRIDE IN REMEMBERING THEIR GUESTS AND GREETING THEM INDIVIDUALLY, USUALLY WITH A HUG AND A KISS. CHEF VANESSA CORTESI AND HER CHEF HUSBAND, JON, ARE TRULY MASTERS IN THEIR KITCHEN; THE FOOD IS DELICIOUS AND PREPARED WITH CARE AND DETAIL. BROTHER, JOSH IS A GENIAL AND EFFICIENT WAITER AND A PRIMO BARTENDER (AS WELL AS AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER) SANDY AND VICKIE, THE PRETTY AND PERKY WAITRESSES, KEEP THINGS MOVING ALONG WITH A SMILE AND A QUIP; MAKING DINING OUT THERE A MOST ENJOYABLE MEAL WITH FRIENDS.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, scenic view, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Center Belongs on Top
    Needhamfoodie2
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    Super friendly and knowledgeable waitstaff; outstanding food; the owner greets you like a long list friend...no one rushes you and they honor reservations. It is like eating dinner at a friend's home as long as the friends is a gourmet chef!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • 2nd time there, great once again
    100PJVIP
    Dined on 10/24/2014
    This place is a bit of a hidden gem, located off the beaten path in downtown Needham. The location is charming, the food is great and the service was great. The owner makes it a point to get around to the tables and check in with the guests. I would highly recommend a visit to this great restaurant.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nice Surprise
    BobfromBostonVIP
    Dined on 10/24/2014
    We were not sure what to expect but had heard and read good things. We arrived at 6:00 on a Friday night and it was rather empty. When we left, it was full and very energized. The food was very good as was the service. The dining room is small but we never felt crowded or cramped. We would and have recommended it to friends. The owners clearly care about their guests and take the business seriously which is nice to see these days. Good Job.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great place!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 10/8/2014
    I have been to the Center Cafe four times in the last few weeks and each time was delighted. The good is excellent, a warm and friendly atmosphere. I plan to keep going back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • One Of The Best In Boston West
    RichVIP
    Dined on 10/4/2014
    We are regular customers of Center Cafe in Needham. It is first class. The food is terrific, the menu varied, the specials special. We are always greeted by Steve and Karen who really care about the family atmosphere. Our favorite wait person Sandy worked our table and made the experience even more enjoyable.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Food; Great Value
    Jeff
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    The Center Cafe is an authentically satisfying restaurant. Food is interesting and very well-prepared, wine list has some good values, and the prices are reasonable. Whenever we plan a meal out with friends or as a couple, we find ourselves drawn back to the Center Cafe. The family run establishment is friendly, informal without being sloppy, and a terrific way to spend an evening.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Thought Fava was great
    Kichme
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Husbands birthday. Dinner was great! Dessert on the house beautifully presented with on a plate inscripted with a chocolate fudge Happy Birthday written in cursive around the plate, personalized on bottom of plate. Staff and owner extremely personable, menu slections with flexible side dishes.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Local eating
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    This is the third time I've been to The Center Cafe in the last couple of months and I shall keep going back. The food is really good, Steve and his wife are wonderful, friendly hosts and the service is good and pleasant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • enjoyable
    flyfishVIP
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    As always, unpretentious, excellent food, moderate price.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Comfort food with flair
    JohnR
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    Good fresh comfort food with flair, excellently prepared. Prices were a little high.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • CfoodVIP
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    As usual we had a wonderful dinner last weekend at the Center Café.... everything was prepared properly and served on time--nice wine list and nice ambiance
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A;ways a Pleasure
    CarolVIP
    Dined on 8/8/2014
    My husband and I have been to the Center Cafe quite a few times. The food is always very good, the owners are friendly, and it is just a comfortable place to be.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Perfect for Your Regular Restaurant
    ObjectiveCriticVIP
    Dined on 8/6/2014
    Great food, surprisingly large menu, friendly and attentive service, and owners who are on site every day and really care about their customers. I can't imagine a better place to make your regular restaurant.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 20 ratings-only reviews submitted since August 1, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.6
    • Food4.6
    • Ambiance4.3
    • Service4.5
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 142 reviews are from the The Center Cafe reviews archive.
  • Be Charmed at Central Cafe
    snorkels
    Dined on 7/23/2014
    This place is a charming neighborhood gem in Needham. The Staff is friendly not only with guests, but also with themselves. The food is really consistent, especially the burgers. This is a good antidote to chain restaurants, and overly stuffy places. The staff is extremely accommodating, treating each guest as a member of the family. The service can be a bit slow on busy nights, so come with patience, it is worth it. Freshly cooked food takes time. It is a great place to meet friends and have a great meal. I recommend the onion rings! Overall, the warmth of the whole place makes it a comfortable place to have a great meal.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Dinner with Friends
    Barjoe
    Dined on 7/22/2014
    We had dinner with friends visiting from Florida on a Tuesday evening. The restaurant was not crowded and we were able to spend some time talking and catching up. Everyone enjoyed their meal. I would definitely recommend The Center Cafe.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cath
    Dined on 7/16/2014
    Staff is constantly yelling at each other, service was slow.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointment in more than one way
    love2eatout
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent restaurant
    flyfishVIP
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    AS usual, good food, good service. Have eaten thre svral times and never been disappointed
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We shall return
    PsdlnVIP
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Wonderful
    criticaldinerVIP
    Dined on 6/22/2014
    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
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • suzythcatt1
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 6/13/2014
    Very reliable and chef does a nice job with sauces-- light and well flavored
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Small gem of a restuarant!
    PennyS
    Dined on 5/9/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    Romantic, special occasion, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Abled to have a conversation!
    MareVIP
    Dined on 4/4/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Neighborhood gem
    NeedhamLeeAsh
    Dined on 3/8/2014
    This is a family owned and managed fine dining restaurant. Very warm and friendly environment, fantastic menu, reasonable prices, homemade sorbet is a must.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, kid-friendly, romantic, neighborhood gem, hot spot, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • One of our favorites
    andieVIP
    Dined on 3/1/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful Neighborhood Gem
    GSPluvstodine
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Loved The Center Cafe!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Snowy night haven
    FionaVIP
    Dined on 2/18/2014
    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!!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Certainly real chef-level
    JF02461
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great neighborhood spot
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007VIP
    Dined on 2/1/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best Local Restaurant
    RichVIP
    Dined on 1/29/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • We had only been to The Center
    Oppi328VIP
    Dined on 1/14/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • nice place near home
    Ryoe4gudfud
    Dined on 1/9/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Friendly staff, good food
    shel99
    Dined on 12/19/2013
    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.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • I like the family friendly
    Jewel
    Dined on 12/13/2013
    I like the family friendly ambiance of this family run restaurant. The bartender is very accommodating if you want a special drink.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Restaurant Always Delivers
    CarolVIP
    Dined on 12/8/2013
    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.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Enjoyable dining experience!!
    jmdee
    Dined on 11/23/2013
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.