Chef Ballet at Centro Cafe

Butternut squash lasagna

Butternut squash lasagna

See this butternut squash lasagna? Looks good, doesn’t it? Ooh, it was! Layers of noodles, cream sauce laced with rosemary and roasted butternut squash from the chef’s own garden. It’s a customer favorite at Centro Café, back on the menu this fall by popular demand. Come to Food Slam Friday night and you will get to taste this delight from yourself!

Chef Josh Unser's culinary ballet

Chef Josh Unser’s culinary ballet

Centro Café is an unassuming gem tucked into Center Street in Riverwest. Just inside the door, a counter, where my husband and I had the pleasure of dining, faces a row of burners and a grill where Chef Josh Unser does his culinary ballet. We watched him grill calamari and scallops, and choreograph pan after pan of Italian pasta dishes of seafood, fresh veg and classic sauces. In addition to the butternut squash lasagna, Josh made us a bowl of Arancia, a dish he created for the menu consisting of cavatappi, chicken, olives, capers and artichokes draped in an orange tomato sauce and topped with shaved parmesan. The brininess of the ingredients give this dish a nice tang and it may have changed my mind about capers for the better. Centro offer many gluten-free options, including the butternut squash lasagna and other pastas, making it a treat for those avoiding the wheat.

mmmm, arancia!

mmmm, arancia!

Having a front row seat for Josh’s work made us plan for several more trips back to try the other dishes. It seems you couldn’t go wrong with any of them. The room is lively and not too loud making it a great place for a meal that also lets you appreciate your company. There’s something classically romantic about it too, without being all candles-and-roses cliché.

tiramisoooo good

tiramisoooo good

You can argue with me, but I think tiramisu is the perfect dessert and Centro’s is quite perfect at that, all lightness and coffee served in a sweet little glass. Do yourself a favor and save room for it. It’s the perfect last bite of a meal… and for this year’s blog.

last bite.

last bite.

My musical pairing: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “Cheek to Cheek”  It’s sweet and romantic as a dinner at Centro. Like the food, every note is clear and uplifting and that bit of swing reminds me of Josh tossing pans of pasta and sauce over the burners with such grace. When Ella and Louis come together at the end, you get that lovely warm feeling of the last sip of wine and last bite of tiramisu.

by Food Slam blogger Steph Kilen

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