Spoil yourself with homemade cappelletti and fresh egg pasta dishes at the La Cena Ristorante. This restaurant and wine bar serves modern Italian cuisine in warm, cozy digs. Chef Jerry Moran champions a menu that features single and combo appetizers, beef strip steak, fresh salads, pasta dishes (served in medium or large sizes) and chick and veal dishes (accompanied by a fresh salad).
Visit for lunch and treat yourself to some homemade spaghetti alla puttanesca, tossed with olives, spicy tomatoes, anchovy and capers. Complement it with some wine. La Cena's intimate but relaxed space is tailormade family-style parties and friendly group events. The restaurant also boasts a private dining room for special events. Open for dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays, La Cena doesn't close until midnight, making it an appealing choice for the late night crowd.
This is the best Italian Restaurant in Jacksonville.
Great place. Looking forward to the new location.
The fresh red snapper Livornasie style and my wife's veal piccata were the best we've had in Florida. Incredible Italian wine list.
Chicken Parmesan is my husbands choice in Italian food. He said it was the best he's ever eaten AND he had leftovers (he has never had leftovers). The 1/2 loaf of bread was tasty! He was a little disappointed that spaghetti didn't accompany his dinner.
I ordered gluten free pasta (it took a little longer to prepare) with shrimp and scallops. It was the BEST gluten free pasta dish I have ever eaten!
Since we were heading into the area for the Jazz Festival anyway, we made an Open Table Reservation at La Cena. It wasn't our first visit but it had been a few years and it was as good as we remembered it to be. We both ordered the red snapper, mine was done Ellie fish style, my wife's style we can't remember....anyway, both were fantastic.
They are apparently moving in the next month and will be out of circulation for a couple of months but wherever they end up, it will be worth a visit.
We have been longtime patrons of La Cena, and have always recommended it highly to those who appreciate great Italian food and wine and know how to build a relationship with the folks who serve them and cook for them. Gerry and his outstanding long-time staff will serve you what we think is the best handmade fresh pasta in town (also great for seafood and steaks, btw) backed by a lifetime of experience in the business. Their upcoming move to Murray Hill is our gain and downtown's great loss.
Read the menu. Ask questions. Understand that the portion sizes will be enormous, and you will likely get several meals out of that which you are given. Be respectful, and don't have preconceived notions of what you think you're going to get, because they really do know their food better than you do. Go ahead and eat the bread sticks - they're great and they are fresh. Try it Gerry's way, and you'll see what I mean. Read the menu carefully first, from the very beginning, and you'll get a sense of how to go about your business. La Cena is not quite like anywhere else we've ever dined, and that's not a bad thing.
The reward will be a long term relationship with some gifted artists of the cucina Italiana in classic Long Island style.
This is the best Italian restaurant in Jacksonville! The food is freshly prepared and incredibly authentic. The mussels are fantastic whether in the white or red sauce. The entrée portions are hearty, so the small size will suffice for most .
Best Italian meal since I was in Italy!
Everything great. The bread had a remarkable wood oven taste.
It's a small place. Only a few staffed. The food was excellent. I'm glad I tried this place. We are going back.
Third time returning to this restaurant, this time with friends before a show at the The Times Union. Once again our meal exceeded our expectations and everyone enjoyed the meal.
Great food, great service, we love this restaurant
Great service; great food. Owner very attentive. Moving to new location soon. Revisit is a must!
Everything was excellent. The wine was good. We're not a fan of stemless wine glasses so the waitress happily brought the stemmed ones. Bread was hot and crusty, very good. The shrimp and scallops were big, juicy and tender on the pasta. Portion size choices are nice too! It was Easter weekend, there was no one else in the restaurant and we ate early at 5:30pm. The ambiance would have been better on a different day or weekend when its busier and more festive. I always enjoy going to La Cena because its cozy, has a cool vibe and the food is good. Service excellent. My mother forgot her purse they happily brought it out to the car. Nice!
The menu is huge with a lots of great options; however the portions are huge; even the small pasta size. It would be nice if you could split a meal, but the menu clearly states there is a $18 fee to split. With many dishes only costing $21 that was a total rip off. The service was terrible; it took over 25 minutes to even get the waitress to pour the wine we brought with us and over 2.5 hours to eat. The staff was not all that friendly either
The pasta was delicious! Extremely generous portion sizes.
We ate at La Cena 2 yrs. ago and couldn't wait to go back. However very disapointed this time.
My wife had sea food, the lobster and scallops were over cooked and clams were too chewy to eat. When my wife mentioned the clams to the staff she said they were fresh and there was nothing they could do. I had a veal chop (52.00) that was certainly not worth that money.
Made reservations and yet the hostess/waitress acted like there wasn't room for us. We should have left then. The place is small and smells musty. The portions were huge. Staff not nice unless you are a regular.
What a find! Portions are HUGE! There are three sizes with only a dollar or two between each. The small size would fill even the hungriest diner. The mussels posillipo starter was the best I have ever tasted, anywhere, in the world! Besides the quantity (three bowls were given for the shells) the red sauce was amazing. After eating the mussels, the spoon was used next to complete this fabulous journey. While prior reviews raved about the escargot (which itself was amazing in both quantity and quality), the mussels were extraordinary!
Dined here before a show at the Florida Theatre. You must let them know that you will be going to a show otherwise time will be a factor. We had a 5:45PM and an 8PM show. The main course arrived at 7:10PM so there was no time for dessert. That didn't matter as our dinner here was awesome!
This reminded me of the Italian places up north...the ambiance, awesome food, and great personalized service will definitely bring me back again!
A hidden gem on the northeast Florida restaurant scene. Perfect location before a show at either the Florida or Times-Union theatres. The flavorful fare was a surprise and delight, with rich fresh ingredients that danced deliciously with one's senses. Kudos to the chef and staff. I can't wait to dine at La Cena again, and have raved about it with all my friends.
This place was NOT cheap so for $150 for 2 people with a bottle of wine, 2 entrees and a dessert and tip, I would have expected better service and better food. My husband loved his steak, but my chicken entree was drenched in sauce. Wine list was pricey and although service was ok, it wasn't quite to par with what I would expect for that price tag. Convenient to see a show though, only reason we went.
We went before seeing a show so the location is great. Nice atmosphere. We ordered the clams casino that were tough and not so good. The ceasar salad was less than fresh and overpriced for the upcharge. The spaghetti Americano was really good and the portions are huge! The Chicken parm was good but needed salt, as did the escargot. Probably would go back for the spaghetti.
The restaurant was fine, but for the amount of money they charge for the dishes I expected much much better food. The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't spectacular either.
The food was excellent and the chef allowed us to order off the standard menu for the awesome clams
The portions are huge but the value is not there because of the prices. If you get an appetizer (the escargot was amazing) and a meal you will need a to go box. Not always practical if you do not have a fridge in the hotel room. Getting a smaller portion is $1 cheaper so that makes no sense from a value standpoint. Veal Marsala was good but not great. Bolognese was very tasty and even better the next day. Really enjoy the food but too expensive to dine often.
It took ~30 minutes for the server to greet us and take our drink order. We asked to order the apps when they finally arrived and we were told "no, I need to get your drinks first". The only benefit is that the food is delicious but unless you don't care about time and/or good customer service, I would avoid this restaurant.
The food was extremely well seasoned/sauced. You could taste the freshness of the ingredients. It was hands down the best Italian food I have ever had.
The wait staff was very helpful, efficient, and friendly.
This is some of the most authentic and best Italian food you can get in North Florida. The beef carpaccio and polenta with Gorgonzola are my favorite starters. Cesar and 18 ingredient salads are a small up charge and worth every penny. Pastas are all fresh and really great especially any with seafood. Wonderful NY Strip and veal chop with multiple sauces that you can chose from are amazing. Sold ALL Italian wine list with many unique and obscure choices. The chocolate mousse will change your life!!!
We are regularly seeking out locations to have dinner before local theatre showings downtown. How this restaurant has escaped us for so long we will never know. Don't allow yourself to walk by this one because of its unassuming appearance on the street. While entrees come in three different sizes, the large portions provide enough for leftovers the next day. This will definitely be in the rotation for dinner before performances at the Florida Theatre and the Times-Union Center.
What a delight! Every bite a delicious treasure - starting with the salad. A house spring with added onion and olive topped with a wonderful red wine vinaigrette dressing - it was so good, and the Bread too! Yum. Our Entre choices were Veal Marsala and Chicken Caprese. Both plenty to share (so we brought 1/2 of each home and they were delicious again the next night!) and SO GOOD! Wow. Plus we each had a glass of a tasty bubbly! The owner/chef/master of ceremony was a fabulous host (and a GREAT chef) with ample staff that were all very professional and nice. Loved the whole package! (Hey Guys, this is a very nice place for a very nice date night!)
Our overall experience was good. All my seafood based dishes were excellent and of decent size. Ambiance was alright, nothing special. A regular restaurant. The front room might be deceptive - it looks very cheaply decorated and not very cozy. the back is nice and intimate.
However, my husband ordered a steak. Medium rare. It came well done. To his request to cook him another one, he was brought back the same steak with a suggestion to try to cut a piece in the middle, because the edge could be cooked through. He did not argue. But the steak was definitely well done.
The wines are excellent and service overall is on a high level. except for arrogant attitude at times from servers.
While nothing was bad at La Cena, nothing was really remarkable either. The pasta was pretty decent, but the accompanying salad was just lettuce with a boring vinaigrette. A veal florentine dish was kind of tough and the sauce was thin. Hard to recommend if really good Italian is wanted.
The modest exterior of this little downtown storefront belies the quality of the food and service. Don't come here to order pizza or a meatball sandwich; this is gourmet Italian.
We started with the best escargot in town (sorry, Matthew's and Orsay), Caesar salad, and two terrific pasta/vegetable /meat dishes , enhanced by a delightful Valpolicella. Even the small plates are large. You cannot leave here hungry.
This restaurant was a pleasant surprise. Menu offered a wide variety of selection and whatever portion size you want eat or pay for. The wait staff and owner were cheerful and ever present with advise on the menu. The quality was 5 star. Wine list we very good and fairly priced. Will return when back in Jax.
Food is decent but the service is terrible. If the food was great I wouldn't go.
Was insulted multiple times by our server... When ordering apps was told they needed main order as they had a table coming right right after us (we were there 18 minutes early). Not allowed to make substitutes, God forbid you ask for shrimp instead of chicken. Asked for check and after taking 23 minutes to print a piece of paper was told "enjoy your 45 minute cab ride".
On top of all of this, Friends purchased 2 nice bottles of wine for us prior and they never gave them.
We had dinner at La Cena before going to see A Christmas Carol at the T-U Center. As usual, everything was delightful from the moment we walked in. What was unusual was that, because we were going to a show right after dinner, we could not take our leftovers with us. I was sadly resigned to not having Ellie Fish for lunch the next day when our wonderful server told us that she would be happy to wrap and refrigerate our “doggy bags” until the show was over! Not only that, but she said if we just called the restaurant when we arrived, someone would bring our bag right to our car. And, in fact, the Chef himself was the one to deliver it to us with a big smile and a warm handshake! Just when I thought I knew everything about my favorite restaurant, I learned something to make me love it even more. So, for anyone who is worried about not being able to finish their meal before a show or event: worry no more…thanks to La Cena, you CAN take it with you!
Best Italian food in Jax mad my arguably the best chef in town!
Meal was fabulous as always. Every time I am in Jacksonville, the highlight of my trip is dining at LA Cena!
We did not know that LaCena existed until a friend recommended it as a good place to go before the theater. I was immediately impressed by the atmosphere - an old world look, not too noisy, and plenty of room between the tables. My salad was crisp and fresh, perfectly dressed with a lemon vinaigrette that did not overpower the greens. I had snapper for my main course. It was served on a bed of spinach with a side of sauteed Brussels sprouts - perfect sides for me. My only complaint was the size of the portions. The fish was enough for both my husband and I. I would have been happy to have the leftovers but going to the theater I couldn't take them with me. The service was accommodating without being overbearing. I look forward to returning.
Always consistent. Lots of choices between pasta, chicken and veal