Step foot inside Drago Centro in downtown Los Angeles, and right away you’ll be enveloped in a sense of luxury. From the vaulted ceilings to the fifteen foot glass wine tower, to the large windows showcasing spectacular views of downtown L.A., you’ll feel the utmost Italian sophistication in the heart of L.A. And knowing the menu comes from renowned Italian chef Celestino Drago, you know you’re not only getting quality but also authenticity. That’s because Drago maintains the true essence of traditional Italian cuisine, while using modern cooking techniques to make it even better.
Per cominciare, to begin, as the menu states, la burrata is an excellent choice. You can never go wrong with burrata, creamy mozzarella, which just melts in your mouth, but add some endive, basil pesto and crostini to it, and your taste buds will be jumping for joy, ready to start your culinary adventure. As my friend simply put it, “you get a honking piece of burrata with pesto, you can’t go wrong!” By “honking”, she meant big…you get the picture. ;-) You can also choose from antipasti, such as il carpaccio di capriolo (venison carpaccio) and la pancetta brasata (braised por belly) to start off your meal.
For one of my primi piatti (first plates), I was treated to the gli agnolotti, ricotta agnolotti with spinach and pancetta, prepared with housemade pasta. You can tell the pasta was made in house, because of its freshness. This is a light, tasty pasta dish, which almost tasted “healthy” if you will. Definitely not sinful. If you’re in the mood for a lighter pasta dish, this would be a good option, but if you want something heartier and more flavorful, definitely go for the i garganelli…absolutely delicious! It’s garganelli pasta, pork sausage, parmesan and fennel seeds, in one of the most divine sauces I have ever tasted, made with the natural juices of the sausage and a red wine reduction. It’s no wonder it’s also the favorite dish of the restaurant’s managing partner.
That would have been enough to make my taste buds happy, but next I tried the risotto al funghi (wild mushroom risotto), which was delightfully sinful. When I learned it had truffle butter in it, I knew why! It was scrumptious! And with a perfectly cooked rack of lamb on top, it was absolutely perfect. Paired with a wonderful Italian red wine, recommended by our waiter, my taste buds were in heaven! I could’ve ended my tour there, but I had to try the dessert, of course.
I had small tastings of the spumoni, bomboloni (small doughnuts) and la crostata di nocciola, which was my favorite. It’s a chocolate tart with hazelnut butter and a bit of salt sprinkled on top to give it a wonderful contrast, served with banana gelato.
Drago Centro is also the perfect spot to grab a drink after work, offering small bites in its beautiful bar area. There is a also a private room, that used to be an old bank vault with a small test kitchen for private parties. There is also a private room you can book inside the main dining room. And Drago probably has the longest happy hour I’ve ever heard of. They have happy hour food and drink specials in the bar area every weekday from 11 am until 10 pm, and on weekends from 5 pm until closing.
Drago Centro is located at 525 S. Flower St. in downtown L.A. There is an underground parking structure with valet. For more information or reservations, call 213-228-8998, or visit their website at www.dragocentro.com. Buon appetito!