Drago Centro

After Drago’s recent glowing review in the Times by S. Irene, and its already solid reputation from its other LA establishments, I just had to try the new Drago Centro located in City National Plaza. Yes, it’s slightly hard to find, and while it’s address is on Flower, valet parking is available a hop, skip and a couple of turns around the block on Fig.

The place is buzzing on this Friday night before Valentine’s Day. Mostly filled with an older crowd dressed in suits, ties and and black dresses, there were still some other young couples and groups savoring Chef Celestino Drago’s exquisite Italian food.

To the right when you enter is a bar and casual seating area for those who don’t have a reservation. Chef Drago was out and about saying hello and talking with friends. We were seated after checking out the impressive and transparent wine closet placed conveniently as you enter the restaurant. But, as I do most of the time, I brought my own bottle of wine tonight. A 2006 Larkmead Cab. I don’t mind paying the $25 corkage for something I would have paid at least $150 for in a restaurant.

The wine closet displays all their finest wines.

The wine closet displays all their finest wines.

Our bottle of Larmead Cab was deserving of it 94 Robert Parker rating.

Our bottle of Larmead Cab was deserving of it 94 Robert Parker rating.

The sommelier opened and poured our wine and we were on our way. We started with the il tagliere di affettati con gnocco fritto, a house selection of charcuterie, gnocco modena style. A good amount of speck, salami, sausage, prosciutto, and something else I missed the name of, filled the plate. All the meat was delicious, and for $15, the portions were great.

For our second course we split a plate of one of their hard duram wheat pastas, the i garganelli ($16) had garganelli pasta with pork sausage, parmesan, and fennel seeds. The salt and fennel from the pork was well balanced with the cheese and garganelli (similar to penne) pasta. They even brought it out in two bowls, so sharing was easy.

For the third course, grilled piedmontese porterhouse for two, panelle fries, mushrooms ($75) This massive steak comes out on a sizzling skillet and is cut and served table side. The t-bone side of the steak was perfectly marbled, the fillet side delicate and delectable. The best of both cuts. The selection of flavorful earthy mushrooms was fantastic, but the panelle fries had an odd flavor, and we steered clear of those.

The amazing charcuterie plate.

The amazing charcuterie plate.

garganelli pasta

The garganelli pasta.

piedmontese porterhouse for two

The piedmontese porterhouse for two.

donuts with ricotta creme

Donuts with ricotta creme.

Even though we were stuffed to the gills, we managed to scarf down some of their home made donuts with ricotta creme, poached pears, and brown butter gelato ($9).

The service was spot on, and the floor was filled with hard at work servers, busboys, and floor managers. The menu is full of other great dishes I can’t wait to return and try. Like venison carpaccio, walnuts, and a sherry vinaigrette or the oxtail ravioli vaccinara style, with celery root, and broth.

On my way out I checked out the former bank vault turned private kitchen. Two employees were cleaning up after a private party in the kitchen and we chatted for a bit. For parties of 16 or more, you can set up a private dining experience. A private chef cooks you a four course meal right in front of your group. With close up cameras and TV’s on the wall, getting right in on the action is no problem. I thought it would be some outrageous price, but was told generally, depending on the menu, can cost around $55 a person. Sign me up!

Drago Centro on Urbanspoon

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Author:Matt Mitchell

A lover of everything LA has to offer, Matt created Dig Lounge to tell his friends about all the fun things to do in the city. Matt has worked in the dot com world since 1996, including some of the top online entertainment companies and digital marketing firms. He currently works as a Digital Producer.

6 Responses to “Drago Centro”

  1. Maury
    February 18, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    Great write up of the place! I am dying to check it out especially since I have been reading nothing but great things about this place. Thanks for sharing with everyone.

  2. February 18, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    i had a superb lunch here and now im dying to go back just for that gorgeous charcuterie plate. WOW

  3. February 18, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    nice review. i gotta try that charcuterie. i work right next door so maybe for a quick “snack” after lunch. you gotta try that venison carpaccio though.

  4. February 27, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    Looks good! Put this restaurant down on my “to-try” list! ^^

  5. Ann
    March 10, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    Went on Friday, March 6 before a Laker Game. Great staff and service. Had moules (wonderful), paparadelle with pheasant and morels (the sauce was velvet) then a veal chop with sweetbreads (perfect). Husband had venison carpaccio, pumpkin canneloni and quail. All was great!! Desserts (“doughnuts” and semi-fredo) were also wonderful…Will definitely go back – nice walk to Staples…and the Lakers won!


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