When my friend Beth texted an SOS on the first beautiful Friday of summer, I deciphered it instantly: Start Our Suntan. Five o’clock quittin’ time was looming and we needed a downtown patio on which to roll up the sleeves of our sweater sets and get a dose of much-needed Vitamin D, stat! I racked my brain, desperately trying to think of a destination with a mellow atmosphere, aesthetically-gifted patio, good food and chilled sparkling wine, when it hit me–new kid on the downtown block, Nel Centro, had it all!
The menu features perfect-for-sharing small plates, light but gratifying pasta and meat dishes, deliciously simple desserts like the Lemon Semifreddo and Fromage Blanc tart, and a compelling cocktail list that could leave you and your new suntan asking about hotel vacancies come closing time.
The latest venture of restauranteur/chef David Machado, Nel Centro is a tony, uptown Italian Riviera cuisine-inspired restaurant located inside the fashionably remodeled Hotel Modera on SW 5th Street. The large sunny patio is tucked into the center of the U-shaped hotel, ensuring a private and tranquil setting, and is accentuated by striking rectangular metal fire pits filled with rugged chunks of amber-colored granite that blaze brilliantly when turned on at dusk.
The menu features perfect-for-sharing small plates like the Warm Hazelnut Crusted Chevre with Piperade & Olive Tapenade, Fava Bean, Pecorino & Shaved Fennel Salad, and Pommes Frites with Harissa Ketchup, light but gratifying pasta and meat dishes like Trenette with Basil Pesto and Roasted Halibut with Baby Artichokes and Preserved Lemon, deliciously simple desserts like the Lemon Semifreddo and Fromage Blanc tart, and a compelling cocktail list that could leave you and your new suntan asking about hotel vacancies come closing time.
Executive Chef: David Machado
Atmosphere: A voguish hotel restaurant with a polished staff and stylish private patio
Outdoor seating: Yes, a beautiful patio with tables and seating around the fire pits.
Best Seat: Outside at a patio table by the fire pit
Noise Level: Normal
Bring the Kids: Yes
Bathrooms: Yes, at the east end of the bar as you walk towards the hotel lobby.
Parking: Valet parking is available at the Hotel Modera, 515 SW Clay Street, or you can meter park on the surrounding streets.
Cocktails: A dozen or so specialty cocktails ($10)
Beer: Four beers on tap ($5) and a half dozen bottled beers ($4.50 - $5)
Corkage: $15 per 750mL
Coffee: Caffe Umbria
Tea: Two Leaves & a Bud
Ideal Meal: Butter lettuce salad with candied walnuts and grapes, silk handkerchiefs with pesto bianco, Ligurian seafood stew, semifreddo
Vegetarian Friendly: Yes
Vegan Friendly: Yes
Good for the following occasions: Out With Friends, Pre-Theatre, Dining Solo, Dining Al Fresco
Group/Private Party Details: Nel Centro has extensive accommodations for private parties and banquets and can offer plated and buffet-style private menus. Call for more information.
Reservations: Yes, call or go on OpenTable
Entertainment: Nel Centro has live entertainment from time to time, check the blog (link is on their website) for upcoming event information.