Named after the famous meeting place in the TV show Friends, Central Perk Café is located right off Central Ave (presumably why they chose such a name) in Cedarhurst, NY. Because of the pandemic, the inside of the café wasn’t available for seating. The waiter instead led us to a seating area in the back of the restaurant which has the feel of a New York City park because of the brick and pavement, which I thought really added to the whole Central Perk/Friends theme of the restaurant.
Central Perk Cafe: Atmosphere
Something that confused me a bit was that the references or comparisons to the café from the show really ended there. The menu was clearly more focused on the food as opposed to the TV show in which the café is more of a coffee meeting place without the sit-down layout plan of a regular restaurant.
In the show, the couches, sofas and rugs really give it the look that I would not think be so hard to recreate. After having a look at the menu, nothing really caught my eye at all. All the regular dairy restaurant/cafe staples were on there, which basically consisted of the 4 main categories: pastas, pizzas, paninis and salads. Being that by the time I got to the restaurant it was already 11:30 and I hadn’t yet eaten anything that day, I didn’t hold back from ordering things on the heavier side: zucchini fries, an avocado panini and penne rosa.
We wanted to order linguini primavera instead of the penne, but the waitress informed us that it wasn’t necessarily the most popular dish they served, which was a gesture of honesty that I really respected. There is no shame in feeling as though some dishes are better than others on your menu, and the waitress sharing her opinion made me feel that the dish I would be ordering would be something to look forward to.
After getting the food, my confusion was put to rest. The zucchini fries were prepared exactly how anyone would like them to be, crispy but not too heavy on the breading, as well as zero to no grease. The zucchini itself had the tiniest bit of crunch while still being cooked, something that I know is hard to achieve having been a big zucchini fan for much of my life. The marinara dipping sauce was clearly blended to a nice thicker consistency which made it perfect for dipping, a detail I have noticed that often restaurants don’t pay much attention to. The avocado panini was simple but constructed very well, with a very nice light mayo sauce.
Something that stuck with me about the avocado panini was that it wasn’t very toasted, as paninis usually are. I feel as though they did this purposely in order to not smush all the contents of the sandwich, and it worked. With an avocado panini, which also included tomatoes and onion, you want to keep it fresh, and this was a very fresh sandwich.
Penna rosa is not something I am often seen ordering because it’s the type of pasta dish that every Italian place, or any place that serves pasta, will have in order to serve to the pickier customers. I was blown away. The flavor that was packed into such a simple dish was really impressive, and it was something that I would recommend to anyone from food critics to children.
Overall, I clearly can understand the popularity of the Central Perk Café, and why it’s a favorite of so many who live in the Five Towns area. Perfected simple foods will always be a winner in my book.
Central Perk Cafe
105 Cedarhurst Ave, Cedarhurst, NY 11516
Google Reviews for Central Perk Cafe
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