Nel Centro

4.5
1712 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 1712 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.7
service
4.4
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
96% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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P
Portland
5 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was great!
I loved the booth.

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B
Portland
11 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Nel Centro is one of our favorite places to dine. The service is excellent from the moment you walk in the door. The menu presents a variety of choices that accommodate the meat eater or vegetarian. They have the best calamari appetizer in the city! We ordered from the appetizer, salad and side menu on our visit and we were delighted with our choices. This was a great way to get a variety of tastes! Wine and cocktails are also excellent!

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AT
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Had an awesome lunch here with some Rose and yummy bread snacky things :) a fun afternoon.

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OT
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We usually come for lunch but we’re here for brunch. It wasn’t a very crowded time on Sunday but there were still some larger tables of 8. Nevertheless the service was fantastic and the food prepared very well. My husbands burger looked fantastic and he was very happy with it. I had some special requests, and our server went out of her way to make sure all of our questions were answered, suggesting alternatives, and assuring that the food was correctly prepared. This kind of attention to details and quality of the food is the reason we continue to return.

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C
Portland
50 reviews
Dined on May 18, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Good choice for pre-symphony or pre-Keller Auditorium; our server was knowledgeable and pleasant; nicely focused menu; my halibut was excellent; tasty, imaginative cocktails; lively bar scene

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OT
Portland
1 review
Dined on May 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is one of the best places for clever Italian food in Portland. These folks get ut

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o
Washington DC
14 reviews
Dined on May 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Always tasty and northwest oriented. Something a little different such as the cauliflower soup

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D
Portland
51 reviews
Dined on May 13, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

As on previous visits, food was very good with novel twists on familiar dishes. Service was very slick.

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PM
Yucatán
2 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

Love the atmosphere. Food was average. Went for Mother's Day: menu selection limited.

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ES
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Very limited menu selections, okay for most but no vegan options! Portland should be used to making all dietary choices available

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OT
Portland
1 review
Dined on May 9, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 5

Food was incredibly bland. This is the second time I’ve been disappointed with the flavor at Nel Centro. Had the baby kale, chicken & grape salad. There was only one grape in the entire salad. My friend who joined me only had one grape as well so we had to ask for a bowl of them. Server was very friendly but didn’t know the menu. Work right across the street but likely won’t return. Very disappointing for such a lovely establishment.

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PF
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on May 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service was exceptional. The food was delicious. And it’s all fairly affordable. I love Nel Centro!

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AR
Jackson Hole
3 reviews
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

The food & service were great. The room itself was ok but the other 2 areas far outweighed the other. Enjoyed the meal!

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PD
Portland
1 review
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

The food was fantastic, but they tried to sit us in a corner by the front door at first next to the bright shades. We asked for a different table and were moved.

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MW
1 review
Dined on May 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was my first time at a fancy restaurant, but I definitely enjoyed it. The food was really unique and flavorful, the service was great, and the atmosphere was very cool.

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CB
1 review
Dined on May 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing staff, atmosphere and food! Highly recommend!

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OT
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on May 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We were there doe dinner before a 7:00 show at the Keller and the staff was SO friendly, and quick to make sure we got our food in a timely manner so we had time to eat before the show, and not have to rush. It was also my birthday, and they even bring you a menu that says Happy Birthday on the front... little fun touches and the food was delicious!

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J
Portland
9 reviews
Dined on May 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We had a great meeting over an excellent lunch at Nel Centro. The waiter was there when needed but obviously watched the table for cues as to when to approach and when to stay away. He did a wonderful job of helping me negotiate the menu for food allergies. Both of us really enjoyed our meals.

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F
Portland
16 reviews
Dined on April 30, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Convenient when attending events downtown, and there usually is nearby metered street parking st dinner time, also valet at the hotel for $5. Food and service were great, but dinner prices are high so we shared dishes.

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p
Portland
7 reviews
Dined on April 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of my favorite places to dine downtown. Excellent food relaxed atmosphere and great service. All dishes are carefully prepared with a top ingredients and a good balance of flavors. Cocktails are well crafted, too.

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F
Los Angeles
156 reviews
Dined on April 28, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 3

This was decent Italian food in the downtown area. Nothing special, but not bad.

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UP
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on April 28, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

Nel Centro has become a favorite restaurant of ours. The food is always excellent and beautifully prepared and they have an interesting variety of dishes representing various nationalities and styles. The locale is warm and accepting and feels very comforting


Generally the service is excellent and very prompt. The staff is knowledgeable, informed about the foods that are being served and can discuss and suggest wines appropriate for the meal. The servers, in particular, are flexible and can adapt readily to any special requests or conditions if necessary. However, last Sunday, one of our favorite servers was having an "off day" and failed to serve a salad that had been ordered by one of our diners (in a group of 5), failed to recognize that one other diner was lacking a piece of tableware (a knife) and served caffe lattes with the desert that had been prepared some time before by the barista so that by the time we got them they were tepid.

Despite this, Nel Centro is still one of our favorite places.

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2
New York Area
7 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Nel Centro consistently delivers outstanding meals from start to finish. Never disappoints. Should go here more often.

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j
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious food, excellent service and comfortable space.

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HC
Portland
5 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

Let me start off right away, that Nel Centro did the best they could considering our situation, but I still need to give an honest review.

While seated with our drinks, our server came to take our order. We asked a few questions about the menu:

- Does the charcuterie plate have any nuts? ANSWER: No, but there are olives.
- Can you substitute the starchy vegetable on the daily special to a green vegetable (usually an easy request in Portland)? ANSWER: No, there are no requests allowed on the special.

The charcuterie plate arrived with a loaf that was loaded with pistachios (the only nut that I'm allergic to). After immediately moving that to a clean plate, we pointed it out to the server, who seemed surprised and said that must be a change to the charcuterie selection and quickly comped this item on our final bill.

I also ordered the cioppino, which had four small mussels and three large shrimp that were cooked well, as well as some fish pieces that were very dry and tough.

My dinner companion went with the ribeye (instead of the special), which was cooked nicely and tasted great.

Overall, with the great choices that are available in Portland. I'm not sure I will revisit Nel Centro. When an allergy is involved, it seems critical to have accurate information.

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RM
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was yummy! Server was so nice. Thank you!

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LP
Portland
42 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is always solid, great food, menu and drinks. Room is pretty and service is efficient. Definitely a favorite place when attending a show at the Keller. Love their outside patio for happy hour in nicer weather.

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s
San Diego
5 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 2

This Italian restaurant serves nicely conceived but poorly prepared meals. Wait staff was good. Hostess polite and helpful

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LR
Portland
11 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The halibut special was tender and yeasty and the microgreens, edible flowers, and pea purée gave it just the right flavor balance.
For dessert we had semifredo. The flavors were bright and the crust gave it the little bit of texture it needed. The sausage were spectacular one adding just a touch of acid and the Carmel sauce just a little sweetness.
Our waiter Matt was very friendly, just the right amount of funny, and took great care of us all night. Highly recommend.

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OT
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on April 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Great service as we had a show to attend. We allowed an hour and 20 minutes and it was plenty of time. We didn’t feel rushed, our waitress was delightful. I’m sorry we haven’t been to this place sooner. Definitely will be back! Ended the pasta and salad meal with this decadent dessert; Chocolate Cardamom creme brûlée.

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LB
Portland
29 reviews
Dined on April 23, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The restaurant can get a bit loud. Food is really good, although fish portions tend to be very small for the price. Nice lunch options and a great happy hour, especially if the weather is good and the patio is open.

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DL
Portland
14 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food, especially the Osso Bucco was fantastic. Our server had excellent recommendations for both cocktails and wine to accompany the meal. When the weather is more reliable, I am anxious to return and dine on the beautiful patio.

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OT
Portland
25 reviews
Dined on April 19, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

It was so noisy we couldn't hear each other talk. It would be better if your rating system did not make "energetic" seem like a good thing. It would be better to label it "too quiet - just right - too loud.

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OT
Portland
1 review
Dined on April 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Host was very kind and sat us even though we were an hour early.
Our server Erin explained the dishes. And I got blown away by her recommendation of French toast either lemon curd and creamer fraiche. My date had the corned beef hash and eggs dish. Also great.
Erin was awesome she checked in and refilled my coffee and was friendly to my half asleep low functioning self.

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CJ
Portland
4 reviews
Dined on April 14, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Perfect location near the theater, it was a little slow for the service but food was great.

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JR
1 review
Dined on April 13, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

Very nice place. Food was very good. Service was top notch.

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C
Chicago
21 reviews
Dined on April 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Classy dining experience, in a chic modern restaurant. Services was friendly and attentive. Each dish was presented like a work of art. The food was simply delicious.

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AL
Vancouver
1 review
Dined on April 13, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Service was not good. They should make it clear the lunch menu is not offered during the weekend.

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E
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Had a nice lunch at Nel Centro, where my salad was served to my order (minus cheese) and was very tasty, but the server, while pleasant, ignored my request for separate checks after acknowledging he could provide that service, nor was there any follow up with more water or asking if we wanted anything else like coffee or dessert.

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RR
Portland
8 reviews
Dined on April 10, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

One of the best places in the south downtown areas to have a business or social lunch. Several good specials and a good variety of usual offerings too. Consistent in all ways and friendly.

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