This North Toronto restaurant has won every major culinary award imaginable, including En Route’s Best Restaurant in Canada, and Gourmet’s America’s Top Tables Award. Dishes include tried-and-true Italian specialties, as well as sushi and innovative fusion combos. Be sure to try the baked Halibut or Aussie Rack of Lamb, or if you really want to splurge, the Persian caviar.
After decades of presiding over Toronto’s dining scene, Centro has been taken over by General Manager Armando Mano and Executive Chef Bruce Woods, to be born anew. Preserving what diners loved best and adding what diners always welcome, the new Centro Restaurant and Lounge maintains impeccable five-star service, (ask about the wine lockers), while offering a liberating New American menu.
Chef Woods culminates his expertise in a diverse and approachable cuisine of superb meats and seafood, while offering a neometropolitan mix of sushi, dim sum and other tapas in the lower-level lounge. With nightly entertainment, the lounge offers an alternative to dinner and is perfect for pre- and post – any event. On the main floor, stress-free dining is reiterated in the “construct-a-meal”, a la carte menu, the earth tones of the luxurious upholstery and the full-comfort, classic yet unpretentious furniture.
Grand, even exhilarating at times, but showcasey and slightly overrated.
Whether the focus is on the grand room, the exhilarating menu or a $500 bottle of California Cab, Centro has become one of the city’s most successful, respected and influential restaurants of the current generation. Almost five years have passed since executive chef Bruce Woods and manager Tony Longo bought Centro from its creator, Franco Prevedello and the place now seems entirely their own.
Dining-room service at Centro has always been good and fortunately the serious attitude at the door occurs no longer. Everybody from the reservationists to the busser is genuine; relaxed and professional. Waiters proceed with effortless authority even when serving your tenderloin (it comes with adorable little stuffed vegetables that look like marzipan). Just as you’ll forget Prevedello’s absence, you’ll forget the staff’s discreet presence. At least until they bring dessert, which holds its own with the rest of the menu, including the best chocolate soufflé we’ve had in recent memory.
This isn’t food that dances on a tightrope. The spice-crusted bass entrée is the best dish on the menu though foie gras lovers won’t be able to resist the squab, served on a corn pancake. I don’t generally favour tenderloin cuts of meat because, though they’re tender, they often lack flavour. Not so at Centro, where lamb loin packs a serious punch, thanks to a crust of black trumpet mushrooms. Were I to make one principled objection to Centro’s approach, it would be that the menu exhibits a disappointing lack of seasonality.
Two sommeliers work the dining room at all times, and wine service is exceptional; a world-class list with strong selections from just about every wine-producing region. The eclectic flavors of Wood’s cuisine make the traditional Chardonnay and Cabernet choices seem a little thin, so it’s wise to focus on the Alsatian whites, red Burgundies and New World offerings.
The summer associates from the big Midtown law firms rule this room come early evening, whereas the second seating consists primarily of the usual four-star-dining suspects