Centro offers an authentic, romantic Italian dining experience—fit for those who have dates and for those who may not have dates and end up reading Shakespeare at a table meant for two.

The Place

The atmosphere is fantastic: my reservation was at 5:30 p.m., so the dining hall was low-lit and had candles on every table, a humble reminder of my loneliness. I was sat in the middle of the dining area, surrounded by friends and families catching up with each other.

The service was phenomenal: Kristi, my waitress, was always prompt with service. I recorded the time between ordering and leaving, and within 2 minutes and 40 seconds of ordering, I was presented with my Centro salad. Kristi came once around to check on me while I ate it; after thirteen minutes, I was done with the salad Kristi came and took it.

It only took about fifteen minutes for my main course to be served, a "small" garlic pizza with six large slices, and Kristi came a few times more to ask if I needed anything. When I was finished with my pizza and Kristi came and offered to box it for me and offered a dessert menu, which I gladly accepted.

Waiting for dessert was an extended period of waiting—about ten minutes. This wasn't an issue, however, as it gave me time to recover after the main course before the dessert. After an hour and seventeen minutes since first ordering—a perfect turnaround time—Kristi had ran up my check and I was good to go.

And, this was all without my glass of ice water reaching the half-line mark. Now that's service.

The Food

I ordered the Centro salad, which is a mound of crunchy Italian greens topped with Gorgonzola, toasted pecans, red onion and balsamic vinaigrette. As an occasional salad eater, it was very good. I detested the Gorgonzola, however, it left a strange taste in my mouth that was almost as bad as not having a date; I felt the taste didn't pair with the salad.

Jennifer Brown from Centro

For my main course, I ordered the garlic pizza, which is a normal cheese pizza with garlic in the sauce. As a garlic lover, this was everything I imagined. The garlic flavor was there and strong, but not overpowering; it was very well balanced with the red sauce and mozzarella.

The edges of the crust were burned in some areas, though, so the ending bites would offer that uncomfortable burnt toast taste; not enough to be a put-off but still there nonetheless.

Jennifer Brown from Centro

For dessert, I had George's marshmallow sundae, which is vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate fudge brownie and roasted peanuts in a tall glass that is topped with, what I believe to be, homemade marshmallow that has been brûléed. As an aspiring pastry chef, I feel it's apt to say that this was the effin' sh*t, man

A photo posted by CentroDSM (@centrodsm) on

All the flavors combined into an incredible, balanced dessert: the brûléed marshmallow tasted homemade in comparison to the garbage commercial fluff, the fudge brownie added the chocolate flavors that the marshmallow desired, the vanilla bean ice cream served as the perfect base to transport the marshmallow and brownie from the glass to the mouth, and the roasted peanuts kept the sweetness from being insulting to perfect.

The dessert alone was worth coming to Centro.

The Cost

Talking money, I paid $22.24 for everything. Yes, I went on a Monday after 4 P.M. when Centro offers half-priced pizzas but still, I paid more at IHOP with worse service and food. At the subtotal price of $27.98, I still think this is a steal for authentic Italian food and marvelous service.

Whether you're taking a date or taking yourself, you'll sure to find Centro exceptional experience. From the service to the food and everywhere in between, this place is great.