- 1003 Locust St., Des Moines, IA, 50309
- Overall User Rating:
- (41 ratings)
- Lunch Monday-Friday: 11a.m.-2p.m. Saturday: 11a.m.-3p.m. Sunday: 10a.m.-3p.m. Dinner Monday-Thursday: 5-10p.m. Friday, Saturday: 5-11p.m. Sunday: 4:30-9p.m.
- Official Web Site:
Over the years, I've said many nice things about the downtown eatery Centro, but "OMG, this dish is exquisite" was never one of them. From the three inordinately massive olives in the martinis and extreme piles of lettuce in the salads, to the bulked-up pastas and the entres sized for two, overt generosity was always the spirit here. Sadly, that too often left behind the more subtle pleasures of balance and harmony.
Yet because Centro was always so much fun -- and because the food was never out-and-out bad -- I always ended up having a fine old time here. Lately, however, I've started to notice something wonderful about my visits to Centro: Not only was I having a ball, but I've been thoroughly enjoying the food, too.
Best bites: The word "exquisite" most recently passed my lips as I enjoyed the Butternut Squash Tortelloni, flecked with subtle workings of sage, salty pancetta, and sweet-nutty brown butter. Our waiter graciously offered to combine the Cheese Plate and Italian Meats Platter into one varied and delectable appetizer, and I suggest others ask their servers to do the same.
Always check out the specials sheet, as that's where we've enjoyed some of our best meals, including the Guinea Fowl (a rich and juicy breed of poultry) and a flavor-packed Flat Iron Steak.
Sides have finally broken out of the Alfredo-pasta and garlic-mashed mold; other options include braised chard and ricotta gnocchi. And I love the way they size (and price) the specials appetizers for one -- finally, we don't always have to share a thudding portion of something we get tired of after a few bites. The four little Clams Oreganata -- heady with garlic, rife with nubbly crumbs and tasting like something from my Brooklyn past -- revved up the appetite without dousing it.
Service: Most fine-dining venues in this town have at least a couple affable, professional servers, but this place has somehow attracted an entire crew of them.
Heartbreak at the finish line: Just as I was set to polish off that fifth star, the expensive (and almost marvelous) Goat Cheese Encrusted Lamb Chops, ordered medium, practically oozed blood and had to be sent back. Twice. Mistakes happen, and this one was graciously dealt with. Still, no one enjoys complaining, much less finally getting the entre after everyone else at the table has finished theirs.
Bottom line: A grand time, all the way around.