Reviews for Caffé Centrale

The extra mile in hospitality

It has been a fine year of eating and drinking, says Denise Irvine, who offers her top picks.

I went to the movies the other night with a few friends and we walked across to Italian eatery Caffé Centrale in Alma St for dinner afterwards.

It was busy and we had not booked, but we were warmly greeted. A party had just departed and the table was quickly reset for us. We enjoyed bruschetta, handmade pasta, delicious made-on-site gelato, limoncello to finish and pleasant conversation with host Marco.

It was well after 10pm by the time we made noises about leaving and staff began packing up. just at that moment, a few people appeared in the doorway. A man said hopefully.

"Any chance of a meal? Are you still open?"

They barely hesitated, a quick glance, a nod, yes, they could do dinner. One minute chef Marco had been winding down, chatting with his last guests, next thing he was back firing up the oven.

They rearranged the tables, the group came in and said there may be a few others on their way. There may have been 12 or more people; they looked like out-of-towners and would gain a good impression of Hamilton hospitality from this late dinner.

We commented as we left that there would be few kitchens in the city (maybe apart from some bars) prepared to cook meals at 10.30pm.

"In Italy there would never be a problem," he said.

Anyway these guys are top of my unofficial awards from a year of observation, eating out and writing about food.

Best Hospitality = Caffé Centrale

Denise Irvine, Waikato Times

Caffé Centrale - Our Pick

- Original review on

There are many restaurants that claim an ethnicity by merely putting together a menu containing a country’s signature dishes but Caffé Centrale is certainly an exception to this. It really captures the tastes and flavours of it’s cuisine. One of the few Italian eateries in Hamilton, this restaurant should be on everyone’s ‘must-do’ list.

From the moment you walk up to the terracotta exterior you’ll feel a Mediterranean atmosphere radiating from inside. The décor, sounds and smells will transport you to the traditional cucina’s of Italy. But not only are the menu and flavours typically and authentically Italian, the staff are too! 

The thing I love most about Italian restaurants is the noise, buzz and atmosphere. To me a great Italian restaurant will make you feel like you’re sitting around your own kitchen table with friends, and this is exactly what Caffé Centrale does.

The menu is absolutely huge, perhaps too big, so it definitely not for the indecisive but one tip is that the Chef, Marco (yes, he’s Italian) does a great pasta so this is definitely recommended (give the Anitpasto a go too – it’s probably the best in Hamilton).

All in all, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian dining experience in Hamilton then Caffé Centrale is definitely the place for you!

6 May 2010

Caffé Centrale reviews on

"A saucy puttanesca"

- Full story on

Looking for an Italian dish with a bite and a bit of sex appeal? Kate Monahan meets Hamilton chef Marco Scarpa. Italian chef Marco Scarpa places a dish of steaming puttanesca on the wooden table at Caffe Centrale in Hamilton.

Fresh red tomatoes melt into strands of spaghetti. Glossy black olives and capers are buried in the sauce, which wafts seductively, infused with anchovies and chilli, and sprinkled with parsley.

We twist the spaghetti around our forks and devour the puttanesca. The flavours are rich, robust and blend together perfectly.

It is a popular summer dish, enjoyed by families all over Italy, originating in central Italy, probably around Naples.

30 Jan 2008

Kate Monahan FairFax NZ News