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The Center Cafe

269 reviews
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$30 and under
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Top Tags:
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Special Occasion

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A converted commuter rail stop with the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere of a neighborhood hideaway serving terrific American Cuisine. This family run gem has a lot of cooking talent, a varied menu, good wine list and craft cocktails.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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American, Seafood, Steak
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Hours of operation

Dinner Only:

Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm

Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm

Closed Mondays

Summer Hours may vary.
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Phone number
(781) 455-8800
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Vanessa Cortesi
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Private party contact
Steve Waller: (781) 455-8800
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Cross street
Needham Bank/Eaton Square Pedestrian Walkway
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Parking details
There are two, free parking lots adjacent to the restaurant: one across the train tracks from our front door and a municipal lot in in back of the restaurant.
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Public transit
We are on the commuter rail line at Needham Center Station.
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We offer musical entertainment for special events.
Beer, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 269 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.3  based on all time ratings
Noise · Moderate
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OpenTable Diner (New England)
5.0  Dined on May 12, 2017

Food and service were excellent! The staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

vipnancyi (New England)
1.0  Dined on May 12, 2017

Triple crown Worst service ever bad food ambiance stinks no parking. Probably the worst experience I have had in a restaurant ever.

5.0  Dined on May 12, 2017

Fantastic as always! Food was great, great service and the owners are wonderful!

Duck (New England)
4.0  Dined on May 6, 2017

This is an interesting place. The owners are very, very quirky, and at first glance, rude. Then somehow, they make you feel like family! Even hugs as we left! Go in with an open mind, have a glass of wine straight away, before the rude hostess (and owner) can upset you too much. The food is quite good, and somehow it all comes together.

vipJeffreyH (New England)
1.0  Dined on May 5, 2017

Highly disappointed. Food took way too long and our son's fish had gone bad (very fishy taste). I expected a completely different experience and will not be returning anytime soon.

vipSNOOKIE (New England)
5.0  Dined on April 27, 2017

Great people who own it. Friendly and good is good.

vipOpenTable Diner (New York Area)
5.0  Dined on April 7, 2017

Wonderful as always

vipDebbieWh (New England)
3.0  Dined on April 1, 2017

We had a decent meal, and were glad to be at a table in the back, which was less noisy. The wait staff are extraordinarily friendly, and quite talkative, so that made things more interesting. This is a fine place for simple comfort food. The selection wasn't extensive, and I wish there were more appetizers or things made without butter. I don't do beef, so maybe those dishes didn't have butter. Although our waitress and waiter said they'd be available anytime we needed them, they both forgot to check on us for periods of time.

OpenTable Diner (Philadelphia)
5.0  Dined on March 30, 2017

A great neighborhood place to eat. The owners are personable and the wait staff professional with a good send of humor.

Foodie24 (New England)
2.0  Dined on March 25, 2017

This is a tough one. We had heard a lot about this place and were excited to try it. Basically, seems like they were having staffing issues--wait staff being sharp with each other, the host/owner being sharp with the wait staff and the kitchen. Long wait for everything: water, bread, order taking, food to arrive. No share plates were brought even though we were sharing, no steak knives (butter knife for the steak?) water was not refilled, no one checked on us or explained about the delay. Wait staff said something to manager like, "you can yell at me, but I still can't fix it." Food when it arrived, was solid, unassuming decently prepared food. The only saving grace was that this is clearly one of those places where people know each other and are very friendly. The couple seated next to us were clearly regulars, who went on and on about how nice the owners are and how great the food is and how they come there at least once or twice a week. They were fun. Unfortunately, our overall experience was not fun. This may have been a one-off and the owner did explain that their chef had broken his leg, but really, it wasn't the food, it was everything else. If I can convince my family to give it another try, we'll do that, but the main fun was hearing about Needham history from the other customers seated near us.