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Young Drago Keeps the Family Cooking


Another Italian, Part 1: Giacomino Drago, the youngest of the eight cooking Drago brothers (the best known being Celestino Drago), has opened another Italian restaurant for the family. Piccolo Paradiso occupies the Beverly Hills location of the short-lived Le Stelle.

The decor hasn't changed much since its Le Stelle days, but Giacomino is there nightly, cooking and greeting his guests in the dining room. So if you don't know it's a Drago venture when you walk in, you certainly will by the time you walk out.

The food is slightly more formal than what Giacomino cooked at Il Pastaio (also in Beverly Hills), and Piccolo, unlike Il Pastaio, takes reservations. Piccolo Paradiso is open for dinner Monday through Saturday and for lunch Monday through Friday.

* Piccolo Paradiso, 150 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 271-0030.

Another Italian, Part 2: The Patina Group will open an Italian restaurant in downtown L.A. soon. Zucca has 6,000 square feet of space and seats 182 in its main dining room, two private rooms and patio. There's also a very Italian stand-up bar near the wood-burning oven at the entrance, where patrons can grab a quick espresso or a bowl of pasta.

Owner Joachim Splichal flew in Giancarlo Gottardo from Milan to be the chef for the venture. Zucca is at 8th and Figueroa streets, about two blocks from Staples Center; enter from Figueroa. It will open for dinner by Feb. 9.

* Zucca, 801 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A.; (213) 614-7800.

To the Max: Chef Andre Guerrero, who leaves Linq on 3rd Street Feb. 16, just took over JoeJoe's space (yes, JoeJoe's is closed) at 13355 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Guerrero owned Duet in Glendale back in the early '90s, so he's not a total stranger to the Valley.

His partner in this project is Michael Lamb, former general manager at Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas. The new restaurant, Max, is named after Guerrero's younger son, who plans to be a chef like dad. (His older son, Fred, has his heart set on music.)

The food will be Cal-Asian with Filipino touches. Max is slated to open April 1 for dinner, with lunch service to follow a month or so later.

Drink Like a Vintner: Vincenti is hosting a private dinner for Estate Wines and 22 of Italian exporter Marc de Grazia's Italian wine producers from Piedmont and Tuscany. Chef Nicola Mastronardi and owner Maureen Vincenti want to give all their diners that night an opportunity to have the same meal the wine producers. They've secured five of the Italian wines and will prepare a five-course meal to match on Feb. 5. The meal, including wine, is $125 plus tax and tip.

* Vincenti, 11930 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 207-0127.

Derek Shares: Derek Dickenson, owner of Derek's Bistro in Pasadena, will break out some oversized bottles (e.g., a magnum of '97 Cambria "Katherine's Vineyard" Chardonnay, a double mag of '96 Steltzner Cabernet) from his cellar for a wine dinner Feb 6. To accompany the wines, he'll also make shrimp avocado cocktail, Muscovy duck with a winter tart, bacon-wrapped monkfish and Grand Marnier souffles. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and costs $65 plus tax and tip.

* Derek's Bistro, 181 E. Glenarm St., Pasadena; (626) 799-5252.

Amie's Dinner: It's time again for the Amie Karen Cancer Fund for Children dinner. This jazz-themed formal affair (the invitation says to dress in "sparkling attire") benefits the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. This year it's held at the Knitting Factory, 7021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 7.

The chefs are Joe Miller of Joe's, Raphael Lunetta of JiRaffe, Josiah Citrin of Melisse, Michael Cimarusti of Water Grill, Mark Peel of Campanile, Josie LeBalch of Josie, Bill Bracken of the Belvedere and Sherry Yard of Spago. Tickets are from $102 to $5,002 for a diamond tribute and 20 tickets. Blind gifts from Tiffany will be sold for $102. Call the Amie Karen fund for tickets at (323) 655-5977.


Reach Angela Pettera at (310) 358-7647 or

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