top of page

Centrolina's Graceful D.C. Entrance

PHOTO: Centrolina Dining Room courtesy of Centrolina

Within a muted palate of neutral hues, the graceful (and gracious) scene is set for Centrolina, Owner and Executive Chef Amy Brandwein’s ode to Italian fare in CityCenterDC.

Located next to Kate Spade across from RareSweets, upon entering Centrolina beautiful, modern light fixtures arrest the eyes immediately upward before leisurely taking in the wide-open, loft-like space. The typical boringness of expansive rooms was cut neatly between the dining room and market by a 9-person, seated bar while still leaving a refreshing airy feeling to the contemporary design.

PHOTO: Centrolina Dining Room and Bar courtesy of Centrolina

This attention to spatial detail is also evident within the dishes themselves, never veering towards the sometimes overwhelming richness of Italian dishes with a thinner cut and by addition a singular element to each plating. I found each dish balanced the more starchy and heavy elements of Italian cooking with the proverbial “farm-to-table” healthiness of gorgeous vegetables, meats and seafood.

For those who fastidiously order from each section of the menu, Centrolina’s is divided into “Antipasti Insalate”; “Paste”; “A Legna”; and “Contorni.”

From the Antipasti section, the Burrata is a nice, light starter with a bit of grilled onion to provide a grainer contrast to the burrata with the aforementioned unique element of roasted heirloom sweet potato. For those more inclined toward a meatier selection, the Polpo (octopus soffocato, potato confit, cotechinata, celery salad) was perfectly cooked without the rubbery sensation when octopus is boiled too long.

Coursing through the menu, the best item on from the Paste section was the symphonic Stracci. Mutely respective elements of chestnut, buckwheat pasta, rabbit, black olive and nebbiolo (a red wine grape variety predominantly associated with its native Piedmont region) Executive Chef Brandwein played them together into a melodious harmony. I found the dish to be perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked and the uniqueness of using rabbit instead of a more familiar meat brought the dish to modern relevance. My sole regret is the dish wasn’t bigger and when “forced” to share I found myself longing for more.

To cleanse the palate, I choose from A Legna the freshly sourced Branzino. Again, ideally cooked, the mediterranean sea bass did not arrive drenched in butter or the wild vacillation of branzino’s arriving nearly dry stripped of any natural juices. Instead, the presentation was brightly refreshing with the butter beans providing the near ubiquitous element of butter utilized by nearly every other chef -- at this point why not just call every Branzino dish “Butter Branzino” -- with the roasted baby pepper, greek yogurt and Calabrian chile taking Chef Brandwein’s branzino dish to a remarkable new level.

With three courses, it’s sufficient to skip the Contorti which is what I did at first. Later I returned to try the Cavolfiore. Like a broken record (in a good way), this dish persisted the Centrolina theme of presenting something familiar (burrata, pasta, branzino) with a distinctive new element (here parsley) to create a vibrant take on the familiar.

Overall, I found Centrolina a lovely addition to the restaurant scene in D.C. Very respectable wine list and cocktail menu as well. Kudos to the equally lovely Chef Brandwein for giving the city a refreshing Italian restaurant.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page