Drago Centro: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011
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:
Church & State
Din Tai Fung
El Huarache Azteca
Euro Pane Bakery
Fab Hot Dogs
Good Girl Dinette
La Casita Mexicana
Lazy Ox Canteen
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Night + Market
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Pollos a la Brasa
Sapp Coffee Shop
Son of a Gun
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Waterloo & City
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