Nel Centro
1408 SW Sixth Ave.
Portland, OR 97201

For years, and years I have driven by Nel Centro (located near all of the downtown performance venues and attached to the ultra trendy Hotel Modea), and each time wondered if I would ever make it inside for an "amazing meal and excellent brunch" as many of my friends have noted. as luck would have it I was invited to join in celebrating Nel Centro's 7th anniversary inside their spacious, light-filled restaurant a few weeks ago.  

Before being sat I noticed a huge outdoor sun-soaked patio filled with an assortment of wine, and beer drinking happy faces. I made a mental note to explore this area later. 

For our meal we were treated to a wonderful four-course dinner prepared by chef John Eisenhart, featuring locally sourced and classically prepared dishes from the French and Italian Riviera. Our wonderful meals were also paired with signature cocktails -a few of their frequently updated libations that draw inspiration from local theater productions- and wine from their expansive wine list. I was in heaven. That was until my stomach protested that another bite just wouldn't fit! I didn't eat another meal until lunch the following day; we were all certainly spoiled that evening. 

Upon arrival we were greeted to a tasty prosecco cocktail called the Magic Flute

Dinner at Nel Centro

our dinner menu for the evening

Dinner Menu at Nel Centro


Wild Mushroom & Gorgonzola Pizza + Duck Leg Confit with kumquat gastrique

-salad course-

Roasted Beets with baked ricotta, hazelnuts, arugula, citrus, and fresh black pepper

-pasta course-

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with english peas and lemon, paired with a 2014 delaille sauvignon blanc

Papperdelle with Braised Lamb Shoulder and smoked pecorino, paired with a 2013 tedeschi capital san rocco valpolicella ripasso.

-entree course-

-paired cocktails for our menu-

Did you know Nel Centro runs a cocktail program that often runs drinks in conjunction with current downtown Portland Theater productions? the drink below "Ol' Man River" was inspired by Portland Opera's 2015 run of Show Boat.

cocktails designed for portland opera

Being a fan of bubbles and alcohol, the magic flute was my absolute favorite, however, the Old Man River was a super strong candidate for number one. I am pretty partial to whiskey cocktails and I do love myself an old fashion but bubbles steal the win every time.

Below are a few of the delicious cocktail recipes for the drinks enjoyed during our evening at Nel Centro.

old man river at nel centro

Old Man River 

  • 1 oz Burnside Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Calisaya Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes Orange bitters

build in a mixing glass over ice, share and serve in bucket

garnish with orange wedge and cherry

the magic flute cocktail at nel centro

Magic Flute

  • 1 oz Nardini Acqua di Cedro
  • 3 Dashes Grapefruit Bitters
  • Top with Prosecco

serve in flute + garnish with lemon twist


Shortly after we finished all of our courses we were treated to another fancy cocktail and an assortment of deserts in Nel Centro's private dining room, the Colosseum. The Colosseum is unlike any other private dining room in that they have a beautiful pool table, side wet bar, shuffleboard, darts, a big sofa, and flat screen TV.

Many of the items we enjoyed that evening are also items featured on their lengthy list of happy hour items:

  • mussels for $8
  • duck leg confit for $7
  • wild mushroom and gorgonzola pizza for $7
  • featured cocktails $6
  • house red, white, rose, and sparkling wines $6
  • draft beers $4

Nel Centro's happy hour list can be found here. 

Thank you so much Michelle, John, Nathaniel, and David for providing such an excellent meal and taking the time to teach and show us all of the reasons to have a full blown love affair with Nel Centro. I am smitten.

I can't wait to go back on a sunny afternoon and enjoy an other culinary trip to the French and Italian Rivera with bites from their happy hour menu while outside on their large private patio!


I was invited to attend a hosted media dinner to celebrate Nel Centro's 7th birthday, all opinions shared are my own and  not in exchange for a positive review.