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About CENA Italian Trattoria
Welcome to CENA Italian Trattoria, formally The Place Downstairs. We look forward to serving you! We are located on the Lower Level of Mussel Burger Bar our sister restaurant.
Contemporary Italian, Italian
Hours of Operation:
$30 and under
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Banquet, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Chef's Table, Fireplace, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Private Room, Wine
Truly a hidden treasure!
Had dinner there with friends, food was fantastic, service was great and we really enjoyed the evening. We chose Cena because my friend had a gift card and we had heard it was going to close soon. We generally eat at Mussels and Burgers. After the experience, we were sad we had waited so long and will definitely visit the new restaurant when it reopens at the new location. My friend is a "foodie" and she raved about the experience!
Cena is a favorite!!
Cena is one of our favorite restaurants in Louisville. One of several culinary gems owned and operated by Fernando and Christina Martinez, it consistently stays at the top of our list of go-to places for special occasions. The food is always amazing and we quite often opt for the four-course tasting menu. The pistachio and chocolate torte is one of the best desserts on the planet! Great atmosphere, outstanding cuisine, and excellent service!!!
Our waiter recommended a couple of entrees. I did not enjoy my entrée nor did one of my two girlfriends. We sat for quite a while before he came back to check to see if everything was alright. At the end when he asked me if I wanted to box up my entrée I told him no, that I did not like it at all. He said he wished I had spoken up and he could have brought me something different, however he never checked back with us until the other two gals were almost done eating. Very disappointing. Ambience was great, however I will not return.
Get It While You Can!
I've said it before and I'll say it again, best restaurant in Louisville. The occasion, unfortunately, for our visit this time was to say "good-bye", after having heard the news that Cena will close on November 28th. Word on the street is that the "concept" will reopen at some point in a different location, but what I've heard sounds like quite a departure from what Cena is now - delicious, worth every dollar spent, and just an overall quality dining experience. So, go and enjoy while you can. A continuation of the concept will NEVER meet or exceed the current Cena experience unless it is, in fact, Cena in some downtown or Highlands or Frankfort Avenue digs. And order things you might not otherwise. I especially recommend the goat cheese appetizer, as well as the smoked egg appetizer and the spare rib ravioli. If you don't have them here, you'll likely never find anything like them anywhere else. Truly a sad day for the Louisville restaurant scene is on the horizon when Cena dims it's lights for the last time. Chef/Owner Fernando Martinez seems to truly know what he's doing in the wonderful world of restaurateurs, given his notable list of wonderful restaurants, but on this decision, I remain a skeptic. Goodbye Cena, I'll miss you.
We sent two appetizers and one entrée back to the kitchen to be heated. The pork entrees were so ordinary and so much was left on the plate, the server should have asked what was wrong them. The owner's other restaurants have been excellent throughout the years but this one was a real disappointment.
Not as good as the first time
I came back after a wonderful first experience, specifically because I wanted the same dish. I ordered, and 20 minutes later was informed that they were out of what I wanted. It was rather disappointing. I ordered something different and it was alright but nothing spectacular. Service was great and the appetizer was awesome. However, I probably won't be back for a while because of high prices and frankly this past time the price wasn't worth the experience.
I felt claustrophobic in Cena due to no ...
I felt claustrophobic in Cena due to no windows and low ceiling. It seems our waiter was trying to upsell the menu to us. We had to ask twice for the cooler for our wine after he said he would bring it to the table.
Surprise, surprise, surprise!!!!
My wife and I, along with another couple, experienced our first time at Cena. It was terrific. My wife and I are vegetarians, and our waiter was very helpful in that respect. In addition to the dinner that he recommended, he suggested a salad that was out of this world.
There were 3 problems that I would like to mention.
1) It was noisy.
2) One of the meals was not hot when served, and after the waiter took the meal back for reheating, it still was not hot.
3) The salad that we ordered was a special (not on the menu), and it was outstanding. However, since the waiter did not tell us the price when he suggested it, we were shocked to find out when we got the bill, that it was $14. Way more than the other salads. It was not really the cost, but the fact that we did not know it before we ordered it.
We also appreciate the convenience of making a reservation thru Opentable. A nice option.
Thanx for an enjoyable experience.
Great food, great server, took way too long
I don't mind waiting for good food. But our 4-course fixed price meal took 3 hours. We waited about an hour in between course 2 and 3. Our server (who was excellent) kept apologizing and did give us a glass of wine on the house while we waited. We wanted to see a movie at 9:30 (with 6:45 reservations) and didn't make it out of there until almost 10. Just 2 of us. While the food was excellent, no food is worth waiting 3 hours for 4 courses. Their kitchen needs to figure out a quicker approach.
GREAT way to celebrate an ANNIVERSARY
Went there for our anniversary (mentioned it in the notes when I made the reservation). We were seated in this very private area just for the two of us. The chef's 4 course tasting was fantastic ($45) and the service was beyond all expectations. Highly recommend!
Brought a friend for her bday last nite. ...
Brought a friend for her bday last nite. Told Amanda when I confirmed res. We were seated in that special little alcove. Monty was our server. He was just wonderful and every single thing he did made our night more special. Brought delicious ice cold champagne as we were seated. Took sweet photos of us. Knew the menu so well. Made wonderland recommendations. His pace/timing was perfect. Dinner was incredible but I always get the same thing bc I love it so much- the carbonara and prosciutto salad. She loved her
Gnocchi. Then came a special bday dessert that was just flipping off the charts. OMG. This was probably my 6th or 7th visit. Each time outstanding. I RAVE about you all to everyone.
You choose ur servers well. They are ur best ambassadors. Monty knocked it out of the park for us. Thank you! Can't wait til next visit!
I left Cena grinning from ear to ear.
Every single bite was a little party for my taste buds. I highly recommend the goat cheese Frito for an appetizer, the butternut squash ravioli or anything with their red sauce for an entree (make sure to sop that up with their mouthwatering bread). I had the chocolate pistachio dessert with the whiskey-chai seasonal cocktail. Just phenomenal! Our server Clayton was both professional and friendly and I left there grinning from ear to ear from the amazing dining experience my husband and I shared.
Food was wonderful. I was a little surp ...
Food was wonderful. I was a little surprised with the service. At this type of restaurant you expect good service. We waited at least 15 minutes and 3 table visits for a straw. Was told the drink would be taken care of due to having to wait and ask 3 times. That was offered by the waiter, not a request or expectation of ours. When we got the bill, not only was the drink still on the bill, we were over charged for 2 glasses of wine. Overcharged a total of $16.00. Not the end of the world, but something you shouldn't have to worry about at this level of restaurant.
Our first time there and won't go back. Our waitress was so kind in the beginning and informative about the food. Then, didn't see her much after that. I asked for more bread and finished my entre' by the time I got it. Asked for butter and got it after I finished my bread. No refills on drinks. The food was so so but may have been better if hot. My friend's steak was not cooked to order and the other's was lasagna and too many noodles and not enough sauce so it was doughy. Dessert was Tiri Mishu and not like any I have eaten before. Eatable discribes the dessert. All and all not a good experience and pricey for what we got.
Great and awful
The two meat dishes were wonderful. Two pasta dishes had great sauce but "homemade" pasta was very under cooked in one and the other very grainy. Oops. Staff comped us for dessert and coffee, which was thoughtful but didn't make up for two bad dinners.
The night we went they were doing a four ...
The night we went they were doing a four course menu where you were able to choose items from appetizers to desserts. The items were scaled down to make the meal not overwhelming. Every course was delicious and a mix of flavors that were well thought out. I also like that the restaurant felt very private and hidden. Although they will be moving in the coming months. Can't wait to go back again.
Both the buratta and the prosciutto sala ...
Both the buratta and the prosciutto salad as an apps were great. I would get the large portions of both next time. They were that good. The short rib ravioli as am entree was life altering. Also, tried the ribeye...great as well.
Fantastic Food and Service
Everything about my visit to Cena was wonderful. I treated my brother to dinner for his birthday, and it was the perfect location for this small celebration. Our dinners, wine, and dessert were delicious. I was surprised to see such a low total bill for how great the restaurant and food were (and very appreciative of the dessert being offered free of charge). I couldn't have asked for better service either. The hostess greeted us by name as we walked down the stairs, the wait staff was knowledgeable and observant, and our server went out of his way to give us updates on a football game on TV that we were missing.
Overall, I recommend Cena to anyone looking for an excellent meal with a fancy restaurant price tag.
Great Evening with Friends
Five friends from Norton Commons decided to check out Cena as none of us had been there. It was a great choice. We all ordered something different and shared our dishes. The short ribs and the spaghetti and meatballs were the hits of the evening. However, all the selections were very good. Our server, Monnie, did a great job! Thanks, Cena, for a great evening.
We went to Cena for a romantic evening. The open room we were seated in was loud and cold. Our server was inattentive , never checking in to see if we needed anything, never clearing plates and taking so long to bring us the dessert menu, that we left without ordering any. The pasta was good. The chicken was tough and tasteless.
One of the best in Louisville
This was our second time at Cena. Absolutely wonderful, every bite. We opted for the chefs tasting, though you get to pick your own off the menu. Fried goat cheese app is awesome. Short rib ravioli to die for. Pork loin and short rib entree awesome. The pistachio chocolate cake was exquisite. All around enjoyable evening with some of the best food in Louisville.
Went to Cena for anniversary on the recommendation of a relative, and based on the many positive reviews I read on their website. This first thing that we notices was the noise level; the din was distracting. The waiter seemed distracted during his service to our table; don't know what that was about. The meal was okay, but have had far better at other Italian restaurants in the Louisville area. This was on a Tuesday night, and maybe it was an off night, but the experience was such that I have no interest in returning.
Overall, a great find.
CENA has wonderful ambiance and wonderful food. One of the parties at our table ordered seafood, and it arrived at the table cold. However, the food was comped and sent back to the table piping hot the second time. The only other complaint was slow service at the outset. We were sitting at the table approximately 15 minutes before our drinks arrived. Other than that, everything was stellar. We definitely will return.
Why isn't this the hottest place in town?
I knew I would love Cena as soon as I saw the menu online. Still, it exceeded my expectations. The food was amazing. I was in pain from fullness, but still didn't want to stop eating. Best Italian in Louisville, comparable to some of the food I had in Italy. The service was also excellent. Attentive and accommodating, but not smothering. It is a travesty that we were able to get a last-minute reservation. Should be the hottest spot in town.
Quite good food
We did the four course tasting menu which I highly recommend for new people. The braised beef ravioli is good not great but the gnocchi is great! Desserts are very strong and though the pork chop was too salty from the prosciutto, once we removed that it was excellent. This place is a home run.
It was OK at best
The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. The food on the other hand wasn't as great as it sounded. The menu is vague and misleading. For an appetizer we had the roasted tomato and motzerrella crostina which was wonderful. We had the short rib ravioli for the main coarse. The ravioli was under cooked and crunchy and the chef has a very heavy hand on the salt.
Anniversary to Remember
We made the reservation on Open Table but didn't indicate that it was an anniversary celebration. They put us in the wine room as they knew they had seen us there before. They then mentioned that they like to use this room for special occasions and special guests. Once we told them about our anniversary they couldn't believe it. The took exception care of us, were there when we needed but weren't hovering over the table. The recommendations were awesome and Tito (our waiter) even remembered some of the items we liked from a visit before and reminded us of those. He even provided a Wine for my wife to pair with the Scallops and they finished with complimentary Prosecco to go with the Chocolate Dessert. Awesome Apps, entree and dessert. Its a hidden Gem. We recommend the tasting menu option and it gives you taste of multiple items. To top it all off they presented us with and anniversary card signed by all the staff in CENA.
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