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Drago Centro: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011 

Thursday, Nov 10 2011
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Celestino Drago's grand restaurant, opened in a banking complex at the depth of the financial crisis, has in the last few years had to reinvent itself a dozen ways in order to stay vital, and it is possible to regard it as a wine bar, a center of the Italian snacks called stuzzichini, or a relaxed, Italian-flavored cocktail lounge without ever making it back into the main dining room. Over drinks, you can even get pizza. And it's apparently great for corporate functions — I'll let you know if I'm ever invited to one. But at its heart, Drago Centro is an old-school, service-oriented Italian restaurant that just happens to have a modern kitchen, so that almost as soon as you ask for a menu, your waiter knows just what you want to eat. Unless you dislike Barbaresco or have gluten issues, that waiter is usually right. Do you want salad and pasta for dinner? Fine. But as in Italy, you probably are best off deferring the major decisions to the captain, who will set your party up with cured meats and the puffy beignets called gnocco; the spaghetti with hand-pounded Trapanese almond pesto and the duck with braised chard in a tart sauce flavored with cherries. Drago Centro is a new sort of luxury restaurant, skyscrapers blazing outside the big windows, wine towers reaching to the sky. 525 S. Flower St., dwntwn. (213) 228-8998, dragocentro.com. Lunch, Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner, Mon.-Sat., 5:30-10:30 p.m. Full bar. Evening valet parking, on Figueroa between Fifth and Sixth streets, includes free shuttle to Staples Center, the Music Center or Nokia Theatre. All major CC. Italian.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN

Location Info

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The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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