The view from the new Drago Centro is fine. An expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows looks across Flower Street to the Central Library building and the adjacent garden. At dinner recently, Celestino Drago was at the bar, pouring Prosecco for friends and generally showing off the crown jewel in his Italian restaurant portfolio. The silver-haired, Sicilian-born chef is usually found at one of his Westside restaurants -- Drago in Santa Monica or Il Pastaio and Enoteca Drago in Beverly Hills. But with this chic Italian newcomer, he's moving into the downtown L.A. scene.
Drago Centro, in fact, feels much more urban than his other restaurants. Black Murano glass chandeliers sprout from the ceiling. A glass wine tower divides the bar from the dining room, where the ceilings are vaulted and the white leather dining chairs are slipcovered in linen. Break out those Armani suits, gentlemen.
The menu from Drago and chef de cuisine Ian Gresik starts off with a long list of antipasti and primi (first courses). Venison carpaccio sings with a deft sherry vinaigrette and a sprinkling of walnuts. Bufala mozzarella arrives on toast with tomatoes. There's an ample salumi plate, sauteed mussels with cracked black pepper or a lovely salad of artichokes with Belgian endive, pistachios and an extra virgin olive oil sabayon too.