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Centro Vinoteca’s Slippery Slope

Centro Vinoteca perhaps receives the honor of being one of the West Village’s most over-rated restaurants. Well-publicized by Anne Burrell, who has since departed, and conveniently located on the central corner of 7th and Bleecker, this modern Italian eatery suffers not only from having some of the worst service south of 14th Street but also from being painfully over-priced for mediocre food.

Why, you ask, am I so unhappy with Centro Vinoteca? Well, to start with, they seem to not care about the concept of a reservation, despite taking them in person, over the phone, through their website (in multiple places), and through Opentable. Not only do they not honor reservations for a certain time (most parties in my general vicinity at the bar were waiting at least 20-30min for their reserved table, grumbling despite the pleasant bartender, and checking their watches) but they just don’t give two shakes about their patrons; the hostess was so unapologetically rude to my party of 4 that we were just packing up to leave when they told us (after a 35min wait) that our table was ready. With so many new, delicious, and beloved restaurants in the West Village, I can’t imagine why I would visit Centro Vinoteca again in order to be subjected to such behavior.
On top of the poor service, the food isn’t particularly mind-blowing either. The modern Italian food is a bit above average yet lacking in any real spark or interest. The pici pasta can’t hold a candle to Falai’s rendition; the grilled rack of lamb withered from over-cooking and truly paled in comparison to that offered at Maialino; the whole wheat pappardelle was virtuous and pretty tasty, but really only because it was thoroughly doused in truffle oil, an ingredient that could make liver sing like lamb loin. One dish after another seemed to fall short of what would be expected from an Italian restaurant with such insufferable snob factor.
Even the quirky yet stylish space has its irritations with tables stuffed into sharp angles, little to no sound proofing, and a nice round bar with not enough seating. It’s well-appointed with dark wood furniture, twinkling candlelight, black leather circular boothes, delicate and modern chandeliers, and large street-facing windows that open for an airy look during the summer. Yet, despite the chic look, the bizarrely-shaped space is almost distracting and far from the charming upscale eatery it aims to be.
Centro Vinoteca rides on a lot of Anne Burrell-related hype and just about only that. The food itself has either suffered terribly since her departure or was never really the main concern. Furthermore, the service is unacceptable for a restaurant charging $14 for appetizers and $32 for entrees + alcohol + New York taxes + the customary tip for staff. Want good food just a few blocks away? Forgo Centro Vinoteca for COMMERCE, Casa, Cafe Condesa, Havana Alma de Cuba, or Cafe Cluny.
Perfect For: blowing money unnecessarily, wine and appetizers at the bar, happy hour
Centro Vinoteca on Urbanspoon
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. dude when did you eat this food hasent been on the menu for a long time whole wheat pasta no rack of lamb no not on the menu maybe the web site but thanks for the great review

    June 10, 2010
  2. to begin with, my main gripe with centro vinoteca was the truly awful way my entire party was treated. and second of all, all items listed were on the menu at various times, when i visited the restaurant. i personally had the whole wheat pasta and my good friend had the rack of lamb. no, it was not yesterday; however, whether it was yesterday or a couple months ago should have no bearing on the quality of my experience.

    June 10, 2010

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