bar cento

Finally made it to Bar Cento on Saturday night to meet good friends of ours for dinner. And we weren’t the only ones – this place was packed! Apparently not even the frigid air could keep people away.

I made a reservation for us about a week ago but when got there, the host said he couldn’t find it. At first I was annoyed because the place was packed with already a few people waiting. But, you could tell the host felt bad and a quick 25 minutes later we had a table. Plus, this gave us a chance to check out Bier Market and I’m happy we did. Really great setting and beer list – as you would expect.

The space at Bar Cento is casual but rustic and slightly chic – and it’s a lot bigger (longer really) then I expected. The two spaces share the front entrance, which basically looks like the same from when it was Market 25 – at least I think that was the name for all the stands that used to be housed there. I especially liked the bar with all the wine displayed as a backdrop, the color palette overall and the cloth-draped bar lights. And what really added to the atmosphere was the great play list we enjoyed all night. My husband said they get the award for best restaurant soundtrack. It may sound odd, but it was a mix of classic rock with a little Al Green thrown in plus a few current selections. Maybe it was the mood I was in, but I really enjoyed it. Normally, Guns N’ Roses is not my first choice for dinner music (although little secret, I was a big GNR fan growing up – I can’t help it, I have older brothers) but for Bar Cento, playing Used to Love Her and Paradise City worked.

For dinner, we started off with the antipasto plate with salumi, cheese, olives and bread. This was pretty good, but I think meant more for two people, not four. The prosciutto was my favorite, but I wasn’t wowed by the other salamis or cheese. For dinner, I had the braised short ribs (normally an appetizer but the server was able to make it into a meal) served with warm beets and goat cheese. Jamie had the modern sunnyside pizza with egg, prosciutto and lots of black pepper. Our friends had the baked ziti and seaside pizza with clams and white wine.

I really enjoyed my meal. The short ribs were served sans bone in a light broth with chilies and other seasonings. The meat was very tender, no knife needed, and overall very enjoyable with a slight warmth. And the beets were equally as good, especially paired with the blue cheese.

As much as I enjoyed my meal, I’m going to pass on it the next time we are in and order the pizza instead. The sunnyside pizza is a big winner. Really great flavor, thin and crispy crust and cooked perfectly – especially the egg. Jamie enjoyed his pizza so much he asked if we could pick up a few for the Super Bowl. He also said that the pizza at Lolita’s, which has a similar version, was good, but this one is better. I tried a bit of our friend’s seafood pizza, and unfortunately, I didn’t care for it. I thought it was too salty overall. Honestly though, I wasn’t expecting to like it. As much as I love seafood, I was a little iffy about it as a pizza topping.

I noticed throughout the night that Chef Jonathon Sawyer helped the servers bring out a lot of the entrees, so I was hoping he would do the same for our table. He did and I took that opportunity to introduce myself. I talk to a lot of our chefs on a regular basis, but have actually only met a handful. It was nice to chat with him for a few minutes. It’s pretty clear how much he enjoys what he does.

To our delight, the chef sent out a few things for us to try, including the macarons, Ohio fries and wine (Bell Mountain). Truth be told, I’ve never been a big macaron fan – until now. Boy, these little treats filled with Nutella could be dangerous. I think Jamie said it best on the way home – “If that’s a macaron, line em up.” The fries, served with four dipping sauces (ketchup, curry, garlic and chili) were equally as addicting. I especially liked the curry and garlic. These are right up there with Lolita’s rosemary fries – they may even have a slight edge (very slight, those rosemary fries are good!). And the wine was the best treat of all and one that we will definitely add to our shopping list. Jonathon shared that this organic wine from Medlock Ames winery, is sustainable and biodynamic. The winery is dedicated to producing great organic wine in a fashion that supports and improves the environment that surrounds them.

Overall, everything was enjoyable and we will definitely go back. Good portions on the entrees, too, and very reasonably priced. In fact, the entire menu was really reasonable, from the wine list, appetizers, pizzas, entrees and daily specials. A good meal at a great price in beautiful space – and because of Chef Sawyer’s practices and beliefs, you’re supporting local farmers, too. To me, that’s a pretty good Saturday night.

On the way out, we noticed information for an upcoming wine dinner on Jan 31. More info here.


  1. Sarah
    Posted January 21, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    We also really enjoyed our visit to Bar Cento, especially the pizza and cookies! I am not sure if Chef Jonathan Sawyer was in the kitchen on our visit, lucky you to have met him! (The cookies are actually Macarons, a french almond cookie that from what I understand is difficult to make, not Macaroons the coconut cookie.)

    We also visited Bar Cento recently, check out our review here:

  2. michelle v
    Posted January 21, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Sarah – I fixed the typo.

  3. michelle v
    Posted January 21, 2008 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    By the way Sarah, nice blog. I found some new recipes I’m going to try!

  4. rockandroller
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Great to hear they are doing well, we were waiting til they’d been open awhile to get things ironed out and it sounds like they have.

    Ironically, on Saturday I was enjoying great macarOOns (the coconut cookie) over at Leolai bakery across the street. I always go there for the cuban sandwich, which is one of the best sandwiches in town (along with Symon’s bologna and egg on the Lola lunch menu) and they had samples of these out to try. Definitely good.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Was there also on Saturday. I should have thought to ask for the braised short ribs as a dinner. I told my husband I could have eaten them as a meal all alone…maybe a couple servings worth!!!

    But my purpose was to try the sunnyside pizza. Just what I expected and will probably come back again for others. Perfect.

    Great experience. Oddly, they could not find our reservation either. I guess that is a problem they need to work out still. But we were there early in the evening so we didn’t have to wait. I guess if that is my only complaint then we did ok.

  6. michelle v
    Posted January 23, 2008 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m a sucker for braised short ribs. I almost always order them when I see it on a menu (or convince whomever I’m with to!).

    That’s funny about the reservations, but I’m sure they will get a system in place soon.

  7. Charity
    Posted January 23, 2008 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Michelle, I am so thrilled you found your little mention on the blog. I too enjoy reading your entries. They make me hungry!

    If you ever want to go check out a new foodie place and do a co-post that may be fun. What do you think?

    Anything new and noteworthy coming up soon? Hmm…I will have to think about it.

    Until then…


  8. Sourire11
    Posted January 23, 2008 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I found your blog through Cool Cleveland and just wanted to say hi from another Cleveland blogger! I love Bier Market/Bar Centro – that has been the preferred Friday night happy hour place for about a year now. I’m glad you enjoyed it there! Also next time you go you should try the Citron Ohio martini. It’s very tasty.

  9. michelle v
    Posted January 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I would definitely be up for that!

  10. Alexa
    Posted January 24, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    sunnyside pizza is killer! best thing are those fries! i think they are better than lolita’s.

    i love all of the sauce options. i’m a sucker for condiments.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted January 25, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I are big fans of Bar Cento as well. In fact, we had our rehearsal dinner there just a few weeks ago. All of the guests enjoyed the food and atmosphere.

  12. rockandroller
    Posted January 25, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I went last night and I guess I didn’t like it that much. The people next to me had a GREAT looking pizza though, I will get that the next time.

    I got the cod which was very, very plain. Some of it was pinkish which to me feels like it just wasn’t cooked well enough all the way through for my liking. But maybe that was just that piece; I don’t eat a lot of fish.

    I got the side of greens and they were quite bitter and hard to chew, but I do love greens so I munched through them regardless. I can’t see this being a popular dish for others.