Centerville Café gets a delicious update with a new chef and owner

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Elizabeth Moro brings the Centerville Café in Wilmington into a new era with delicious breakfast dishes, desserts and more.

Walk on the porch and go through the main door of Centerville Cafe, you might think you came across someone’s house by mistake. And in a sense, you have. In front, a stairwell and a small hallway lead to the house, and on either side, two rooms with high ceilings are reminiscent of historic residences. The furnishings are also more homey than you might expect in a new downtown restaurant.

At any time of day, you’ll likely spot a diner poring over the daily newspaper while enjoying an apricot scone and warm latte, while at a larger table in the same room four or five friends can have lunch, their chairs casually moved away from the table at different angles as if they were in their own kitchen.

“I wanted the place to feel like home,” says new chef and owner Elizabeth Moro. Earlier this year, longtime cafe owner and founder Susan Teiser, who brought a taste of what you might call casual dining with a degree of sophistication to this quaint village just south of the line of Pennsylvania, retired. Moro is now putting his own stamp on this local favourite.

“I had been looking [to buy] a place where people could come together in a welcoming setting,” says Moro. On this wintry day, a dozen patrons are gathered in the restaurant’s two dining rooms as cafe staff come and go with lattes, late breakfasts and lunch sandwiches. Moro smiles: “I’m a business woman with a passion for cooking.

Photo by Joe Del Tufo

Regular hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (closed Mondays) and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends. Later this year, Moro hopes to be open seven days a week.

“A few months ago three different people asked me on the same day, ‘Have you heard that Susan wants to retire?’ Moro recalls. “So I called her and told her I was interested. …I worked in the kitchen with her for two months before we officially took over. My husband and co-owner Vince Moro helped with the logistics and modest renovation.

By intention, the café now looks a bit cozier than when Teiser was in charge. Moro proudly displays a long wooden table where a group can mingle, come and go throughout the day over a meal and a drink. “This table is from us, as is a lot of the furniture here,” says Elizabeth, who lives near Chadds Ford.

Now, a few months after the change, the food service and cafe menu reveals some changes. The name of the restaurant will not change, nor will that of Montrachet, the sister restaurant business, which Moro will continue to operate. There will always be special food events and, as was the case with Teiser, wine merchant Linda Collier just doors down Kennett Pike will continue to co-host wine events.

“We also took the upstairs room, which Susan used as an office, and turned it into a room where people can have meetings or group meals,” says Elizabeth. The cafe lives in a converted vintage residence and Moro plans to acquire licenses to serve alcohol.

“For the menu, we kept all the old favorites, but I added my own twist to it,” she says. The Moros also want to significantly expand the offer of ready meals to take away.

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Elizabeth Moro of Centerville Café hopes customers will feel like they’ve entered a warm home with her family-style dining room./Photo by Joe Del Tufo

People using the restaurant’s alternative entrance from Owls Nest Road enter a bustling order bar with a takeaway display case and a view of the open kitchen. Espresso machines, other beverage services, and a cashier are located just beyond. A menu with daily specials is displayed on the wall behind.

At the moment, the menu reads like a cozy mix of comfort food that would appeal to Uncle Herman, who fed the cows before dawn, and his daughter Jane, who has just returned from her second year at the university.

Sandwiches range from the traditional – The Bubba (grilled, with roast beef, cheddar, pickled onions and grainy mustard on white bread) – to the more urban The Chuckie (also grilled, but with chicken, brie , avocado, lettuce and tomato on a croissant). There are also daily iterations of seasonal soups and quiches.

The breakfast entrees form a similar pattern. There’s the traditional breakfast sandwich with the usual variety of meats (but no junk), and it can be served as a wrap or between slices of Kaiser or toast, or on a bagel. The Sammy, however, would be at home in Brooklyn, with smoked salmon with wasabi or plain cream cheese, capers, red onion, tomato and cucumber on a bagel or in a wrap. Prices are very reasonable, with most sandwiches, salads, and breakfasts costing between $10 and $12.

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The menu features a salmon dish large enough to feed a crowd. And, the freshly shaved P’tit Basque adds to the experience with a Boska cheese reel./Photo by Joe Del Tufo

“I like to use local producers and vendors as much as possible. The coffee now comes from La Colombe, a Philadelphia roaster,” she says. Moro also retains much of the same staff.

“There have also been changes in what we serve and how we do things that come from the staff,” Moro says. “I tell them I want them to be empowered to suggest ideas and changes.”

Moro seems to be successful in transferring a personal philosophy into a business strategy. “I’m looking for a way to give back to the community,” she says, “and I believe hospitality should be a way to bring people together. I love conversations and providing a place where people can have conversations.

A former real estate broker, Moro and her husband Vince have a combined family of five adult children from former marriages.

She created an organization called Little Barn of Big Ideas and started a blog called “The Civil Graces Project”, which turned into a book of the same name (Balboa Press, 2020). A passage from it reads: “Despite all the upheavals and disappointments that life has presented, I am still a dreamer for a world where we can make things equal, free, happy and more loving for everyone. world.”

Now she is enjoying her dream. “I wasn’t sure how my kids would react when I told them I was going to run a restaurant,” she says, “but they weren’t surprised at all. They said, ‘Mom, everything in your life so far has been preparation for this.’ »

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