Nel Centro

4.7
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1805 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Italian
Hip Italian eatery in the Theatre & Arts District of downtown Portland, Nel Centro is a vibrant, fun and delicious expression of Riviera cuisine.
Perfect for dinner before a show at the Keller Auditorium or Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Nel Centro will make your special night out even more memorable. Join the power lunch crowd at Nel Centro for an array of scrumptious salads, innovative pizzas & fresh market fish.
Nel Centro features a full scratch bar, swanky patio, private dining rooms and one of the city's premiere wine lists. Come visit and experience the luxury of the Riviera in downtown Portland.
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What 1805 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.7based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.6
service
4.5
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
97% of people would recommend it to a friend
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w
Portland
2 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our very first visit to Nel Centro. It was recommended to us by a very good friend. We went here for brunch prior to a matinee at the Oregon Symphony. We are so glad we came. The waiter was very gracious and human - he sold me on the brunch special which was the most fabulous quiche I have had in years, and my husband on the french toast - he kept saying how yummy it was during the brunch. The prices are reasonable and oh yes, the Bloody Mary was unbelievable and very, very fresh. Their ingredients are out of this world. The hostess also was fun. We had a great time before the show, and plan to go back.

j
Portland
16 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Nel Centro is one of our favorite places to dine before a show or concert. The food is always excellent and the service is attentive and friendly. We’ve never been disappointed. We keep hearing about their great happy hour but haven’t tried it yet. Hope to get there some time soon.

MM
Portland
4 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was enjoyed by our entire party of 6. Service was outstanding and everone's food was really good.

CW
Portland
8 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It's my default place for business lunch. From the Maitre 'd to the server, they always make me feel welcome there. It's a first rate establishment and so conveniently located. I had literally the best tuna melt, accompanied by a simple and freshest green side salad. Good job!

OT
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Celebrating my boyfriends birthday. Great food, quick service. Parking lot right across the street. All staff was friendly as well. We will be back.

W
Portland
8 reviews
Dined on September 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Outstanding dinner. My husband ,who orders cioppino whenever it is on a menu, said it was the best he’s ever had. My halibut was a generous portion, juicy and flaky, beautifully presented. Perfect service. The setting is casual, no table cloths, and the large table next to us was quite noisy.

L
Sacramento
27 reviews
Dined on September 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent Northern Italian food and the staff is gracious and friendly.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on September 5, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Good food and service. Pasta with sausage is a little bit too salty but the liver mousse is amazing

DR
Vancouver
8 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Food was delicious but did not enjoy the service. Felt very business-like

CM
Portland
1 review
Dined on August 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food, great service with a smile and sense of humor.

TA
Portland
1 review
Dined on August 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

BEST. CALAMARI. EVER. Fast service, friendly, and decent prices.

KM
Portland
1 review
Dined on August 27, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Three out of four dinners were very good. Too many people were waiting on us. Apparently the main waiter never checked in after dinner was served to hear that the Osso Bucco was vey dry. He said he'd tell the chef and brought us the check. We've eaten there a number if times and were disappointed in that particular meal and the service.

R
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

There are better Italian spots in town but Nel Centro is a good option for a solid mid-priced meal. Menu has enough variety to please most people.

OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Good food and service. Patio seating is very nice.

j
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on August 24, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

I saw this restaurant on a list of "Top 10 Italian" in Portland. Certainly not. However, the food was good, and the service was very good. Less than 1/2 full on a Saturday night in downtown Portland tells you something.

OT
1 review
Dined on August 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went for my birthday and it was wonderful! Waitstaff was pleasant, helpful, and friendly without over doing it. Food arrive fresh and warm and drinks were yummy! Very nice interior and good ambiance!

OG
Portland
11 reviews
Dined on August 20, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Nice relaxing afternoon sitting outside enjoying lunch.

AB
Portland
1 review
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

Food was outstanding! Only complaint is that 2 members of our party were gluten free. The waiter was aware and when desert came around we asked if anything was gluten free. He said the chocolate budino could be served without the graham crackers so we ordered it. However as we were eating it my daughter said she thought there might be graham crackers in it! Yup sure enough. We told the waiter and he apologized. For a restaurant of this caliber I fully expected it to be taken off our bill since he recommended it as gf. However it was not. That was a bit disappointing.

EC
1 review
Dined on August 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Food was reasonably priced, fast, and delicious. I would recommend to anyone who wants delicious Italian food.

j
Central Coast
8 reviews
Dined on August 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our overall experience was outstanding. Our server, Russ, was very knowledgeable, very attentive and entertaining! We will definitely ask for his section again! The food was wonderful and well priced.

TH
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on August 13, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Food was really good. Server got stuck serving a big party simultaneously with us and could not be very attentive but he was really nice. They could use a better hand off system with other wait staff for these situations.

B
Portland
18 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great lunch spot. The food came quickly and both the food and the service were excellent.

OT
1 review
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 4

Our entire experience was incredibly subpar and disappointing. Really poor service, small portions and over priced. I’m ok with a pricey meal, but it has to be something I can’t just make at home. Additionally, the fact that they only give five raviolis for the price they charge seemed insane. Not a place we will return to. Plenty of other good options in the city.

KW
Portland
4 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 4

The service was excellent. The cocktails were delicious. The food was way too expensive for the amount you got. I paid $20 for 5 tortellini stuffed with cheese and tomatoes. I can't imagine they were that expensive to produce. All-in-all a nice place but not worth the money.

T
Portland
4 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outdoor seating was relaxing and fun. Calamari was excellent. Meatballs were tasty. House red wine was very good. Good value for good price.

BF
1 review
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very nice dinner, attentive staff and great food. Will go again.

NV
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Good Ambience.

FH
Los Angeles
36 reviews
Dined on August 5, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 3ambience 4

This first time we had less than friendly efficient service.

BY
1 review
Dined on August 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of our favorites! We always enjoy both the food and the service.

JJ
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Once again, Nel Centro was outstanding. This time a catch-up lunch with a friend. Other times, pre-theater dinners, happy hour, breakfasts...you name it, you can depend on Nel Centro for superb food, excellent service, a most pleasant setting, and all-around satisfying experience!

JS
1 review
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Good food. Would have preferred to sit outdoors but we didn't ask when we arrived so oh well. We want to come back for happy hour outdoors this summer.

EM
New York Area
1 review
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 5

My friends and I enjoyed our meals. The choices are varied and one can choose two "starters" and a salad and that makes for an economic and pleasing meal. The service was mostly good, but our server got a bit confused and added the cost of my dish of polenta (delicious) to the bill of another one of our group. Not a serious faux pas, and we shared that cost in a group decision, but more care would have avoided the error. However, we always enjoy dining at Nel Centro and will certainly return.

OT
Portland
6 reviews
Dined on July 26, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

It's a lovely place -- excellent food and service -- our only complaint is the noise level.
It is really difficult to find a good restaurant that is quiet enough for conversation.

AA
Portland
13 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Awesome service but very loud environment. Kitchen handled the crowd well as did servers.

RP
1 review
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

I was very happy with my simple order of a burger, fries and a beer, but am pleased to report that that the menu offerings go far beyond the simple to some very elegant creations. I chose a 1:00 time slot to avoid the noonday rush and was rewarded by an unhurried experience where I could easily hear the person sitting across from me. The waiter was very knowledgeable and cheerfully accommodated our requests. Nel Centro is one of my favorite places to meet people for lunch. There are less expensive places in the vicinity but the overall dining experience makes it worth it.

L
Minneapolis
19 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great visit with attentive staff and really wonderful meal. Will definitely be back!

RB
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on July 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place for a delicious meal, amazing service and great location. Walking distance to the Keller!

TL
Portland
1 review
Dined on July 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We love Nel Centro. We always go there before or after a Keller show. We love the pizzas - it was so nice that the waiter offered the list of pizzas from the bar. We had a mix up on our order. They brought two salads and we thought they were shared salads since we all thought the salads in the past were much larger. We must not have been clear when we ordered two and said we were going to share (we were thinking 4 people) he heard 2 people. We also ended up with the wrong pizza since we were talking about the arugala salad and he heard arugala pizza. They instantly remedied the pizzas. Also, we we had plenty of food. The wait staff was very gracious and caring in all their interactions with us. I must admit the lemon drop I got was pretty small for $16. and I've had better - but that may be that I was not used to the liquor I requested. I learned on that one. We also love the outside seating - I'd forgotten about it.

DJ
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on July 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Upscale dining experience. The place just flat out looks nice. Service is excellent and food quality is outstanding. I had one of the specials that night, salmon, and it was nicely prepared and delicious. We shared two desserts, a cheese cake and a version of s'mores that were both excellent, rich but not heavy. Recent visit was our third time and we will be back again.

CS
Portland
12 reviews
Dined on July 20, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Our waitress was very informed and offered a great suggestion for wine. My husband and I both enjoyed our dishes and shared a delicious dessert. Very happy and will return!

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