Centro Paninoteca is small - just eight tables and a bar in its 900 square feet, not to mention a quaint outdoor patio (smoking OK), but offers its full menu of appetizers ($3-$10), salads ($5.50-$8) and panini ($9.50 - $10.50) until 2 a.m. Wine prices range from $7 to $12 per glass. What it lacks in size, though, it more than makes up for with atmosphere. The dark wood furniture, dark brown floors and dark ceiling make Centro look... well, dark - even during the day. At night, though, small candles at each table are reflected off a row of mirrors on the wall, basking the entire space in a warm glow. An eclectic mix of house music creates a nice vibe, playing loud enough not to be lost in the background but not so loud as to make conversation difficult. And the staff? Attentive, friendly and knowledgeable.
Centro, open for dinner with a full menu served until 2 a.m., has tasty eats, a bar with the perfect wine list and an atmosphere that is comfortable and modern, but unpretentious and even a little romantic at night. The building was once a liquor store owned by Herb Drinkwater, the former mayor of Scottsdale. Back in the 1960s his store was frequented by the likes of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, and the building still houses the pictures to prove it.
The end result is "Centro". The food is exceptional. It is innovative yet simple and the menu changes often enough to guarantee a different experience with every visit.
7120 E. Becker Lane
Scottsdale, AZ 85254