THIS SIZZLING, PAN LATIN INSPIRED DINING AND NIGHTLIFE DESTINATION IN RED BANK REIMAGINES THE LEGENDARY SUPPER CLUB EXPERIENCE FOR THE MODERN ERA
BY AMANDA MCCOY PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO
The 1940s saw the golden age of the fabled supper club. Buzzy, beautiful, and brimming with energy, the dining plus entertainment concept popped up throughout Cuba, Manhattan, and Los Angeles, inviting socialites, celebrities, and patrons of high society on a thrilling journey through flavors, top end cocktails, and performances. Seasoned restaurant veteran and COO of ESPERTO Hospitality Group, Anthony Fiorentino had long been enamored with the classic supper club, experiential destinations that, as he said, “attack all the senses.” He wanted to bring a similar experience to Red Bank, but revamped for the 21st century diner. Earlier this spring, after two years of planning, building, and conceptualizing, Centrada Cocina & Cocktails opened its doors.
“Red Bank has a ton of great restaurants,” noted Fiorentino, whose resume includes high level positions with several impressive names like Cuba Libre in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, and the Light Group in Las Vegas. “But it was missing a place that had a true New York City meets Miami vibe. We wanted to launch something that was new and fresh, that’s not solely a restaurant or nightclub, but an upscale mixture of both.”
Housed in an historic, three story building in Red Bank’s booming downtown district, Centrada features a kaleidoscope of Latin cultures. Upon entry, the style of Cuba hits first, from luxurious, oversized leather seating, brooding mood lighting, and vibrant hand painted murals by local artist Michelle Mila.
Next on the attack is Tulum, through hand woven lighting fixtures, colorful accent pillows, and plenty of leafy plants. For Fiorentino, the atmosphere is an integral part of the experience.
“IBO Construction really brought our vision to life,” he added. “We partnered with NYC based interior firm Celano Design on the interiors. And as for the artwork, Michelle was incredible. I knew I didn’t want only framed pictures on the walls, but something more organic. We also knew we wanted to partner with someone local, to foster the community feel, which is an important theme of the restaurant. Latin cuisine and culture is similar to that of Italian culture which revolves around family and friends socializing around the dinner table. Red Bank as a community is the perfect area to create this atmosphere of togetherness.”
Centrada spans three floors, boasting two dining areas, three bars, and a thirdfloor mezzanine available for private events. Open Tuesday through Saturday at 5 p.m., Centrada starts the evening as an upscale dining destination, with fragrant apps, seafood, and steaks piled high on colorful plates. But as night approaches, the energy heats up.
Overhead lights dim as Latin dancers many with fire wands in tow take center stage, and beats bathe the interior with bongos, saxophone, or Latin house.
“We are less focused on a standard night club feel, but rather a nightlife that enhances the food, cocktails, and atmosphere,” said the owner. “Thursdays we host old school, house style music with entertainment such as Manny the Greek and DJ Charlie Cavallo. On Friday and Saturday, our music is performed by DJs like DJ Chelli and Olive Oil, accompanied by bongos, saxophones, and Latin style dancers.”
Chef Norman Reola, culinary director and partner with ESPERTO, leads the menu. Described as upscale fusion fare, his dishes dance along the intersection of several Latin cultures, from empanadas stuffed with cream cheese and king crab (and accompanied with a side of mango chutney) to scallop and grapefruit ceviche abetted by fresh tomatoes, cucumber, Fresno pepper, guava, and spicy leche de tigre. The lumpia Havana starter has a massive cult following. The owner described it as a Cuban sandwich in eggroll form, accompanied with pineapple chimichurri for dipping.
“The idea was not to create a true and authentic Latin restaurant, but rather a fusion of Latin cultures for inspiration to create Centrada’s great dishes,” explained Fiorentino. “With chef Norman’s extensive steakhouse background, we wanted to incorporate high end steaks, such as the Wagyu tomahawk and infuse it with Latin flavors and seasonings.”
The menu’s reigning top seller is El Gaucho, a juicy skirt steak topped with scratch made chimichurri and served with rice, borracho bacon beans, and vegetable escabeche. The Plancha Salmon, however, is nipping at its heels, along with the whole fried snapper, served with warm tomato salad and caper chimichurri, perfect for sharing.
Centrada also boasts an extensive cocktail program, designed by the multi award winning (and Mixologist of the Year in 2015) Carlos Ruiz. His signature sippers include the Havana Days, a blend of Magdalena rum, fresh squeezed lime, mint, kumquat, and soda water; and the cheekily named Drop the Beet, made with Mendel garden pea vodka, beet juice, simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime, and sage. For the purists, there’s a massive tequila library with 60 different labels, available alongside dozens of wines, champagnes, and beers by the glass.
“The fusion of pan Latin food, high end cocktails, and a vibrant nightlife has created a vibe that is unlike any other,” added Fiorentino, who noted plans are in the works for more ESPERTO restaurants. “We pride ourselves in being a place to enjoy great food, drinks, and music in a unique, high energy atmosphere. Our idea is to honor an iconic space with a vibrant, guest revolved culture and to pump new blood into downtown Red Bank. The old school supper club is back, but with a fresh, modern twist.”
Centrada Cocina & Cocktails
8 W Front St, Red Bank / 732.430.2330 / centradarestaurant.com