Nel Centro

4.5
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1925 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Italian

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Pre/post Theatre
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. Or 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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Private Dining

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Specials

Valentine's Day Special Menus & More

Treat your Valentine to dinner and a show! Serving our full menu along with sumptuous specials. (Credit card required for all reservations. $50 cancellation fee of less than 24 hours or for a no-show.)

Friday, February 14, 2020

What 1925 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
4.6
service
4.4
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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t
Portland
32 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Perfectly cooked halibut, good salad, excellent ginger panna cotta.

SR
Portland
6 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Nel Centro is one of the best happy hours in the city: excellent range of dishes, ample portions, and lovely ambience especially outside by the firepits. Also the lunch menu features many of these dishes as well with the best salad nicoise, duck confit and mussels.. better than top European restaurants.

OT
Portland
3 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food was wonderful and service was great. They got us out to our show on time without being rushed.

MM
Portland
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We used to go to Nel Centro for breakfast and hadn't tried their lunch or dinner. Over the last few weeks, we have experienced BOTH lunch and dinner. Lovely environment. Great service folks. Food was excellent and a great value for the price. Most importantly, you can have a meaningful conversation in this environment. You don't have to lean forward to hear the other person talking! It's a great place to connect with people and have good conversation, good food and good service.

AB
Portland
7 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We love Nel Centro. Our only disappointment is the change to all Brunch on Saturdays. We miss coming in regularly to split a pizza and salad for lunch.

MD
Cincinnati
4 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall5food4service5ambience4

Our server Matt did an outstanding job of reading and serving our table. Guiding us through the menu, explaining the specials and checking back in every course without being intrusive.
Cuisine was well done, portions sized right.

Nel Centro is on my go to list in Portland - I can always count on a great meal, professional service in a well light and decorated space.

Thank you

JC
1 review
Dined on January 15, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great dinner. Server was friendly and informative about the menu.

DG
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on January 15, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Rare is the lunch outing that hits all the right notes for success and delivers "more than expected" with ambience, food and flavor. Add stellar wait service to the mix, and Nel Centro is easily a five star experience. Every visit.

TL
Portland
3 reviews
Dined on January 12, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We were short on time since we were going to the Keller. Your service and waiter and valet were great for making our evening easy. Thank you.

J
Portland
8 reviews
Dined on January 12, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Went for a pre-theater dinner. Waiter was very accommodating to our schedule. Food was very good. I had a hot goat cheese appetizer that was delicious and a Dungeness crab - pasta entree, which was to die for. My companion had fresh halibut, also excellent. Desserts of the chocolate variety did not disappoint. Very convenient to the Keller Auditorium (3 blocks) for a pre-event meal. A bit lively for an intimate conversation, and definitely get a reservation if you don't want to wait. We'll be back.

OT
Portland
1 review
Dined on January 12, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Nel Centro is our favorite restaurant for brunch before attending a Sunday performance at the Keller. Always special, always fabulous, always glad we chose Nel Centro!

N
Portland
34 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

We had a great dinner with a friend at Nel Centro last week. Initially, it was bit crowded and on the noisier side due to a pre-theater crowd but became much more quiet after the theater goers moved on. We had excellent service and the food was great. I particularly enjoyed the dungeness crab pasta and our friend liked the osso bucco. The tiramisu bomb for dessert was fantastic.

L
Portland
11 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had brunch prior to the show at the Keller and had a delightful time. Everyone loved their food and thought everything was so delicious, flavors simple and perfect. Nothing over the top to ruin perfect ingredients

JS
Portland
1 review
Dined on January 7, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We always love Nel Centro! It's our favorite spot pre-theatre. Great food, wonderful service, and we are warmly greeted every time we arrive!

OT
Oklahoma City
6 reviews
Dined on January 7, 2020
Overall5food5service4ambience3

The group behind me was extremely loud and boisterous, I was hoping for a more peaceful meal and faster service.

TJ
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 7, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We felt very welcome here the minute we entered. My husband and I were a bit early for our reservation, so we checked in and sat at the bar. I ordered a Negroni Bianco and my hubby ordered a Manhattan, both were delightful; the bartender, (sorry, didn’t get his name, was friendly and knowledgeable. Once seated for dinner, our server Justin, was attentive and courteous. Ours meals were delicious, I had the short ribs and hubby had the ragu. Will definitely return.

OT
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall1food1service4ambience4

The restaurant venue and wait staff was ok but I was disappointed we couldn’t order lunch at 12:30. The brunch menu was underwhelming compared to brunch menus in the greater Portland area—especially for the holiday season. I would never recommend this. I have eaten dinner here before which was really good but now I fear the food quality may be sliding. Maybe just a summer patio visit.

LS
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2020
Overall4food5service5ambience3

The starters, salads, and mains were excellent, as was the service. My husband said it was the best Cioppino he’s ever yet tasted, and my Sugo was likewise excellent.

The downsides were the desserts, which tasted commercially purchased not house-made, and the somewhat bland and a bit noisy hotel restaurant feel.

t
Portland
13 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2020
Overall1food1service3ambience2

I've had dinner and happy hour and thought ir wad delicious. Brunch was not. The food wasn't well prepared. Potatoes were warm but not brown. Polenta wasn't grilled just heated. Not flavorful or worth the cost. I was quite surprised and maybe skeleton crew on new years day, but sorely disappointed.

OT
Portland
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food, efficient server.

L
Portland
17 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

We were dining at Nel Centro prior to the late show for the Pink Martini show at the Schnitzer. We were in no hurry and the wait person was wonderful in his understanding. Our drinks and meal were leisurely and both were great!

KB
Portland
4 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall4food4service2ambience4

The service was not good. Our waitress was great and the fault was not hers. The restaurant was not staffed and she had too many tables to support. This is a management error that led to a so-so evening.

Nel Centro
Responded on January 2, 2020

Our apologies for the service issues. We accommodated your request to be seated at a different table which did indeed overload the server. We will be more aware of this in the future. Happy New Year.

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BM
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

New Year’s Eve

HH
Portland
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience4

I enjoy coming to Nel Centro frequently, usually for lunch, and the food is reliably good. On New Year's Eve, when I thought the restaurant might be overly busy, the service was nevertheless outstanding!

E
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Every about our evening was superb. Delicious food and wine. We love this place for our special nights out.

P
Portland
29 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Except for noisiness, which is a problem in most restaurants popular enough to be continually in demand, Nel Centro is a reliable and comfortable place for a guaranteed good meal.

MW
Seattle
7 reviews
Dined on December 29, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Went here for the first time before seeing a show at the Keller. We will definitely go back. Fun vibe and great food and service.

WS
Portland
14 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience4

Food was ok. Had spaghetti with dungeness crab. Didn’t have much flavor. Wife had Osso bucolic. It was good but had others with more flavor. The tiramisu bomb was good.

5
Portland
13 reviews
Dined on December 24, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

They did a very fine job with helping us enjoy their menu, once they were alerted to the garlic allergy problem. It can be unnerving to serve diners who must carry an epi-pen for safety's sake. Be aware that much of the menu has pre-prepared components (sauces, braises, ragouts, dressings) that limit their flexibility in regards to food sensitivities. I was afraid at first that we would be asked to leave! At other restaurants, the chef has offered to cook something special; that was not required at Nel Centro. We had a lovely holiday meal.

C
Portland
1 review
Dined on December 24, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

That was the best meal I have had in a Portland Restaurant in at least 5 years. Every single thing we ordered was perfect, the depths of flavors had us making lots of loud joyous noises without meaning to. The Uni panna cotta salad with crab Should be a permanent menu item because I want it again. Thank you for a special holiday experience. The service was perfect too. Present and friendly.

LB
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our waiter, Russ was terrific! He skillfully guided us through the menu and wine pairing. Our party included two vegetarians who felt well cared for. Definitely a do again soon.

JE
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2019
Overall4food4service3ambience4

It was well executed.

OT
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2019
Overall4food3service5ambience5

Great server!!! We are all huge foodies - both Food and cocktails left was not excited :(

C
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2019
Overall1food1service3ambience1

I took my son who is a Sue chef at Portland City grill for a special Christmas dinner at Nel Centro. His friend is a chef their. Said the food is good. We made reservations for 5 pm. The restaurant was empty. No need for a reservation. We were seated and the staff helped us immediately, but I must say that the food was an absolute let down. My wife and I ordered the mushroom raviolis. Which was priced at
$ 22.00
The food arrived in 8-10 minutes and there were 5 raviolis on my plate appx 1.5 inches square same with my wife. We both looked at each other and said amazing this place gets away with this.My son was shocked and wanted to say something to management, we had to ask him not too. The pasta was al dente and tasted like something you get out of a can or trader Joe frozen foods. I ordered a sprite and the soda machine must have been out of syrup because it was straight soda water. I asked for a new one and she brought me back the same thing. We had to go out to another restaurant on the way back to the west side after leaving my son down town.
It was a total of 5 bites for $ 22.00 certainly more like an appetizer that should be more like
$ 6.00 My son ordered the pork shoulder and again tiny portion his was about three bites and it was done $ 26.00 Under cooked pasta small portions and way over priced. This is what you will be in for when dinning at this restaurant. I should have just asked for my money back when the food arrived and went elsewhere. But My son chose this place because of his friend who works their and wanted to try it out.
I would not recommend this place if you are hungry or like pasta that is not under cooked and tough to chew.. I am a business owner for over 25 years now with five star reviews on all web sites for years and do not know how this place stays in business with these portions, prices, and management.

NM
Seattle
2 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2019
Overall2food2service1ambience2

Expensive, slow, and poor service. We finally got our food after almost an hour, then we never saw our waitress again. My husband’s calamari was clearly not fresh - yuck, and my salad looked like it had been sitting awhile before it arrived. My husband took one bite and would have sent it back except we couldn’t get any table service. There are many great restaurants in this area. Skip this one. However, if you’re just doing drinks, the bar was upscale and stylish - it also appeared to be very efficient and our drinks were great.

OT
Portland
1 review
Dined on December 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We took our daughters oyster for dinner prior to seeing the nutcracker. Dinner was fabulous, and the service was great. Nel Centro is always our go-to place for Italian with a northwest flair!

SO
1 review
Dined on December 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our group of six were delighted with the food and we enjoyed sharing. The portions were perfect! The cocktails were creative too. We will go back to have dinner again! We have enjoyed their happy hours in the past too, but this was our first dinner with them.

FF
Portland
11 reviews
Dined on December 20, 2019
Overall3food4service2ambience5

Our waitress has hopefully had better days. She couldn’t remember our drink orders and then brought my salad with an aoli dressing after I’d said I can’t have eggs. She didn’t know aoli contains eggs? Apparently not. The food was good and the atmosphere is always lovely. Just hope next time we don’t get the wait staff B team.

R
Portland
4 reviews
Dined on December 18, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Perfect as usual. Good variety and everyone was happy with their meal.

KH
1 review
Dined on December 17, 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience4

It’s been hit & miss at this establishment. Had dinner 3 times since summer 2019: first 2 were excellent, last was a bust. Kitchen didn’t have it together, nor did our waiter. Osso Bucco arrived barely warm, so had to send it back. Took so long to get it warmed the rest of my party were completely done eating. Hubby’s salmon was a child’s portion size for $33. Not a good value.

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