City Center Italian at Centrolina

Have you been to City Center lately? I seem to keep asking that, but it also seems like a new restaurant pops up every time I look. Not to mention another overpriced, overlogoed boutique. Great for window shopping, but buying? Not so much.

And the food? My sense is it’s probably a mix between really good (DBGB) and overhyped. But hey, definitely willing to check things out.

Centrolina, City Center’s new Italian offering, fell into the really good category. It’s a casual, glass-encased restaurant on the pedestrian walkway, looking oddly like Bethesda Row. It’s a combination market (more on that later), bar (very cool looking) and restaurant. The tables are pretty minimalist, and signal more I-bank cafeteria then fine dining.

rabbit ragu pasta

rabbit ragu pasta

On a Friday evening, we sat down, ordered drinks, and took turns checking out the market which is pretty spectacular. Fish and meats, pre-made side dishes and (fancy) lunches, fresh pasta, panini and sandwich station, wines, olive oils and seasonings, desserts, it’s all there.

You need something for a special occasion dinner? They have it. Fresh scallops, giant shrimp, thick, gorgeous pieces of fish, beautiful steaks, a denuded rabbit (um, gross, but probably yummy). But the prices. You’ll pay. I bet it tastes divine, though. After dropping $40 on the protein for your romantic dinner for two, well, I guess your kitchen skills had better be just that good, otherwise you might as well eat at Centrolina. And that’s probably the point.

The pasta all looked magnificent – both in the case with the beautiful pillows of stuffed pastas and fresh strands lying in the display – and on the plate. The taste was as good. Our rabbit ragu was rich and creamy, without being cloying. That said, I was pretty full after just my half-share.

The main courses looked a bit like chia pets with the strands of greens strewn on them, but that’s okay because my chicken was excellent.

Roasted chicken garnished with greens

Roasted chicken garnished with greens

tuna with marrow bone - and greens

tuna with marrow bone – and greens










My only complaint – and it’s a small one. The cocktails and wine seemed just on that side of pricey. Nothing really outrageous, just a tad more than I’d like to pay. But a small price to pay – quite literally – for a fun and delicious evening out.

And for lunch?

I got a chance to catch up with a friend and check that out as well. Two of us shared a dish of pillow-y gnocchi in tomato sauce, fresh tuna crudo and creamy burrata. Tough to beat that combination for lunch!

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