Capturing the feel of an Italian café with its bright paint, black and white tiled flooring, lush green plants and light emerging from chandeliers and candles — Centro possesses an atmosphere unmatched by any other Fairfield restaurant. The ambience begins even before entering the main dining area. Upon entering Centro, your first experience is the take-out counter accompanied by the delectable scent of melting cheese and gently rising bread wafting from the ovens where their pizza is created.

Known for their fresh pasta and sauces, Centro customers attend the aforementioned small counter to collect ingredients to take home and cook for their families or friends in their apartment or townhouse kitchens. A casual first glance into the restaurant only reveals the counter area, yet that alone is temptation enough to enter. Its shelves are lined with tantalizing brick-oven baked bread and their selection of homemade pastas are easily identifiable by the mouth-watering descriptions of the different pastas, sauces and daily special combinations written above in brightly colored chalk. Other than this counter, only the two small tables that serve as the waiting area are visible in this room and they easily spiral an onlooker into a daydream of a lazy Sunday brunch on a quiet Florentine street, watching as pedestrian traffic passes several feet away.

Beyond appearance, Centro is a perfect restaurant for any occasion. Its indoor seating area is the perfect area for a fun family dinner or to hang out with friends. The tables are neatly covered in brown paper with a small cup of crayons — perfect for a small child’s entertainment or a college student’s relaxing time after a long week of work. The outdoor seating area is perfect for the warmer months and for those looking for a quieter atmosphere. It looks out over the Fairfield town green gazebo and when the air turns chilly, contained fires are set up around the patio — keeping the guests pleasantly warm while they enjoy their mouth-watering dishes and contemplate if they have room for another savory course.

Forgetting about the atmosphere entirely — a difficult feat — the food itself is an artwork of its own. Centro is known for their fresh pasta dishes and in particular, their ravioli. All of the versions of this delicate dish are mouth-watering with an Artisan cheese base. Then, depending on the evening’s specials and your subsequent selection, the ravioli can be served in succulent pomodoro sauce with cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, basil and the virgin olive oil that, away from their ravioli, turns their warm bread into a masterpiece of delectable flavor. If you are looking for a more carnivorous dish, the ravioli can also be served in a ragu of sweet Italian sausage or with prosciutto. Alternatively, you can also enjoy their Chicken Parmigiana. The tender piece of chicken is served with a small dish of pasta pomodoro, but the chicken stars in the popular dish. Soft and juicy, the tomato sauce and melted cheese mix with the chicken to create an infusion of delightful tastes that turn a traditional meal into something unmatched that draws stares from surrounding tables as it is presented to the fortunate customer.

Centro also serves a wide variety of Americanized and traditional Italian meals and antipastos. Their Roma Bean piccolo piatto is a huge hit with their customers and is a combination of pancetta, garlic, their delightful virgin olive oil, rich and faintly peppery arugula, and topped off with a hint of lemon. Another popularly requested dish is their Rigatoni alla Vodka, served with traditional Italian pancetta and the sauce alone tastes as though it is melting in your mouth. When the sauce is poured over their fresh pasta … beautiful. All in all, if you have not been to Centro in the 27 years since it initially opened — go. It will be a meal never to be regretted and if your only chance to sample the delicious food is on a Friday or Saturday, the wait is more than worth it.

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-- Executive Editor Emeritus -- English Literature & Film, Television, and Media Arts

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