Thursday, May 21, 2009

Enjoying the patio at brand new Nel Centro

Me and Bethie are downtown at Nel Centro, David Machado's (Lauro Kitchen, Vindalho, Pazzo, Southpark) newest culinary venture, located inside (and outside) the chic and swanky new Hotel Modera,  at SW 5th & SW Clay. The large sunny patio is tucked into the center of the fashionably remodeled U-shaped building, and is accentuated by striking rectangular metal fire pits filled with rugged chunks of amber-colored granite, which blaze brilliantly when turned on at dusk. For now, we're able to balance our plates on the rim of the unlit pits, which is good since the slanted tables keep sending our dishes and silverware flying into the sand. Dusty silverware aside, we are finding this to be the perfect spot to enjoy a sun-drenching, an after-work drink and some snacks off the bar menu. 

We shared the pizza of the day--merguez sausage and artichoke hearts, with fresh oregano scattered atop ($10). It's got a nice crust, soft but not at all sodden, with golden bubbles and a good chewiness to it. 

The warm hazelnut encrusted chevre came accompanied by a dollop of tapenade and a clump of brightly colored piperade ($9). The soft mild goat cheese balanced the briny bite of the tapenade and the spicy savory piperade when all three were piled on the accompanying bread or a bit of leftover pizza crust. It was our favorite dish of the evening.


Fresh fava beans with shaved fennel and pecorino, tossed with quite a bit of lemon juice ($9). Very pretty and quite fresh, but a little tangy for us. 

We had to take a peek at the dessert menu and although we wavered between the lemon semifreddo with hazelnut dacquoise and the Scharffen Berger chocolate souffle, it was a warm evening, so the semifreddo won out--the light as air, perfectly puckery frozen lemon filling sat on a bed of sweet, nutty, slightly chewy hazelnut meringue ($7). The chantilly cream that accompanied the semifreddo was laced with Pernod, an anise-flavored liqueur, which we found a scant overpowering.

Nel Centro has only been open for one short week, which was evident upon our arrival as we were ignored for a good 8 minutes after being seated by a stream of passing servers, despite being the only new people in the bar, but once we made it onto the staff's radar the service was friendly and efficient and everyone was exceedingly helpful and understanding when we practically knocked over our bar table scrambling to claim two abandoned chairs on the full patio (the restaurant plans to add two more rows of outdoor tables in the near future, according to our server). Another server told us that thus far, business is good, which is a nice thing to hear. We're excited to watch Nel Centro develop. 

The restaurant has a very informative blog, you can read everything you need to know about Nel Centro and more here. 



  1. Hey thanks for the kinds words about the restaurant and the blog. We're all pretty excited about Nel Centro and it's folks like you that make it all worthwhile.
    The Nel Centro blog guy, Richard Pelletier