Cena Modern Italian
9 SE 7th Avenue
Delray Beach, Florida
Reviewed and Photographed by: James Oliver
Food: Service: Tucked away just off “The Avenue” (Atlantic Avenue) in Delray Beach, Florida is Cena, Italian for dinner. The building is reminiscent of an old home, and has a welcoming appeal. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and escorted through the small dining room to our table on the patio. Dining on the enclosed back patio proved to be a great idea, and we found it to be very comfortable in every way.
Servers, managers and front door employees were all smiling and a positive culinary vibe was definitely in the air. We opted for a family style meal, and soon were enjoying Chianti and Pinot Grigio Italian wines, along with crispy Fried Calamari Fritti with baby artichokes and Siracha aioli. We also shared Tuna Tartare di Tonno with avocado, plantain chips, soy sauce and pickled ginger and house made Burrata salads, caprese style sliced thick and served with ripe tomatoes. Generous amounts of sauces on each dishmade everything even more delicious.
Meanwhile inside the restaurant was filling up and that “new restaurant buzz” was in the air. You might say there are enough Italian restaurants on The Avenue, let alone in South Florida, but if done well, there is always room for more. Cena was proving to be a good one as we prepared for main course to come.
Soon we were enjoying a pasta course of Risotto con Gorgonzola & Porcini mushrooms, finished with truffle emulsion and Pappardelle Ragu of Braised Short Ribs, chanterelle mushrooms and Chianti demi-glace. The risotto itself was not cooked enough, but the flavor of the recipe was spot on. The wide pappardelle noodles were coated perfectly with the red wine sauce, with a generous amount of mushrooms and short rib too…delicious!
We chose seafood as a third course, featuring Mustard crusted wild Atlantic salmon with smashed red potatoes, sautéed spinach and basil buerre blanc… “The dish of the night”, I exclaimed! Also Bronzino smothered in cherry tomatoes,
artichokes, and asparagus, topped with white wine garlic sauce. The white, tasty flesh of this famous European Sea Bass was delightful.
The servers and even the General Manager Tony Joseph were in on the great service, with lots of French style tableside to facilitate our sharing plans to perfection.
Tables were crumbed when needed, wine poured without ever asking and overall their unobtrusive yet friendly style of service was perfect for us.
Time for a real Italian dessert, which had been hinted at earlier in the meal by our hostess… Tiramisu was threatening on the culinary horizon, so we were all pumped up for that! Cena did not disappoint, as large martini glasses stuffed with fresh tiramisu arrived along with plenty of spoons and coffee…somehow we ate it all!!Cheers to Executive Chef Antonio Montella for preparing an excellent meal for our large, demanding party of hospitality professionals.
Check out Cena soon and tell them DinnerReveiws.com© sent you! Open daily at 5 pm…Ciao bella!