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720 Massachusetts Ave. (Prospect St.) Send to Phone

Dinner nightly

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THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED Centro Restaurant Review

: Centro fills a void in the Greater Boston dining scene, that of the mid-range restaurant with high-level cooking. It’s the first project between Good Life owner and local super-chef Rene Michelena (ex Charlie Trotter’s and La Bettola), though credit must go to chefs Brian Maxwell and Brian Hill. The concept is Italian trattoria food such as handmade pastas, robust roasts, and earthy salads and sides. And it’s all presented in a button-cute room with cheeky Roman pillars, sexy nooks, and deep tones of amber and red. The menu is small, at most a half-dozen selections in each category. Staples like the salty-sweet salad of broccoli rabe with anchovy toast and specials like prosciutto with pickled pumpkin and toasty pumpkin seed oil are dashing departures in taste. What you have here is rustic cooking presented with big-city flair. Like capellini, smeared with (almost too much) pesto dolce, then garnished with shrimp meatballs that pack a serious wow factor. Fettuccine bolognese is also drop-dead for its lush meatiness and lingering flavor, born of a slow reduction and a long cooking time. But it’s the entrĂ©es that really impress, and that’s often where restaurants stumble. The stuffed pork chop has Louisville slugger heft, baby’s bottom tenderness and few equals in town. It’s stuffed with escarole and arugula and flanked with a cauliflower gratin. What’s that alluring taste? Fennel pollen. Sirloin steak demands tearing into; the accompanying butternut squash agrodolce is best when most acidic. The food is so filling that dessert can be an afterthought, but we love the cookie plate and honey-thyme mascarpone with lemon pound cake. Central Square’s signature toss of tweedy intellectuals, leather-bound rockers, and visiting citysiders already loves this place. So do we.


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