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.
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.
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!