CiboDivino opened its second location in Dallas, Centro, just a few weeks ago in downtown’s Bryan Tower.
The first location in West Dallas’ Sylvan Thirty is more of a market with lots of wine. This downtown spot is more along the lines of an eatery first with a selection of market-like goods.
Centro is good for the lunch crowd: There are multiple office buildings around this intersection of Federal and North Harwood streets, with not that many food options. If we’re just considering that, then this place is perfectly fine.
We stepped in recently just to get a first look at it. With a number of Italian-focused restaurants coming downtown, we’re curious how they’re all getting along.
From the moment you enter, it’s a little off-putting. You’re not sure where to go, what the process is, etc. That is, until you think of it like — and there is hesitation before saying this — a cafeteria. After all, you do put plates on large plastic trays, and there are stations for your meals. There’s a section for pizza, there’s one for salad and a “chef’s table” for heartier options.
The next thing that’s different in the concept is that all of the fresh food is priced by the pound. Choose your pizza, they slice a piece, throw it on the scale. Sure, weighing your food is helpful if you’re hyper-focused on nutrition. But does anyone really want to see the weight of their pizza? Or think about the fact that they’re eating just under half a pound of cheesy bread? Why not just price it per slice?
On our visit, the weight produced a price tag of $7.20. Prices and barcodes come out on slips, not dissimilar to when you get produce at Central Market. The employee thought that price was steep for one piece of jalapeño-pepperoni pizza, so he scribbled his pen over it before writing $3 as the price without any explanation.
The pizza itself is fine: It’s on a delightfully good, thick bread. The pizza wasn’t handed to us very hot: After going to the checkout counter with our receipt and sitting down, we basically had tepid pizza.
The whole pricing concept seems like Centro’s trying too hard to be different. When going for a caprese sandwich, all of them seemed roughly the same size. Did we really need to have them priced at $6.99 a pound? The sandwich that totaled $5.18 after weighing was good, especially for that price. It’s pressed and hot with a spicy pesto that accomplishes what a caprese sandwich should, even if it’s just a bit greasier than usual. Again, the bread was a highlight.
The mushrooms we went for as a side had the same price per pound as the sandwich, which somehow doesn’t make that much sense either. The mushrooms, totaling $2.07 after weighing, were fine — simply sauteed with onion — and perfectly satisfying if you love mushrooms. You would love them more if you for some reason prefer your cooked mushrooms cold.
There’s a large selection of drinks, from small bottles of Chandon to slender cans of green tea and bottles of CBD beverages. There were some tempting packets of 44 Farms jerky ($9.99) and a beautiful coffee bar.
Aesthetically, this place nails it pretty well: clean lines with a modern feel, mostly white and cool tones. Outside is a large patio where red plastic chairs contrast the interior with their vibrancy. The covering is quite pretty but doesn’t appear to do any good in keeping rain off people below, should that be needed. While the weather was pleasant, we were downtown, which meant our view was of a construction crew tearing up a street, filling the air with noise easily since no music played from the restaurant outside.
It is helpful in the world of lunchtime dining in that area of downtown, though. It’s better in ambiance, taste and surely nutrition than the limited options for people in office buildings nearby.
Is it worth driving to and paying a parking meter? Is it someplace I’d suggest to go after visiting the DMA? Probably not. And with operating hours only Monday through Friday, CiboDivino Centro doesn’t appear to be going for the neighborhood anyway.
CiboDivino Centro, 2001 Bryan St., Suite 100 (downtown). 214-214-8466. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.