I was whisked away on an upscale Italian dining experience oozing with understated elegance at Drago Centro in Downtown Los Angeles. Twice.
The restaurant thought about every microscopic detail to make both my experiences thus far… exquisite. My white napkin was changed out for a black one when I wore a black dress (some white napkins shed). When we boxed up leftovers they were left in a to go bag at the hostess stand and a ticket was given to redeem upon departure (a la coat check). Plates and utensils were seamlessly interchanged throughout the meal.
To kick off my second visit, I selected la burrata with endive, basil pesto and crostinis. The creamy burrata danced with the flavors on the plate and seduced me as I enjoyed every. last. bite.
Since my first visit to Drago Centro, I’d been dreaming about the Chef’s pasta special I had ordered: le pappardelle al fafiano. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Fantasizing about it. Salivating over it. True Italian pasta dishes are quite simple and usually only contain a few ingredients. As an American, I’ve been jaded by pastas overflowing with merchandise where tastes get muddled and overpowered by the plethora of flavors and textures (not that American pasta is bad). With le pappardelle al fafiano, each fresh ingredient was showcased and savored with every bite. After this dish I gained a new appreciation for pasta. Homemade pasta elevated the dish and made a tremendous difference over boxed pasta. I could taste the love and energy that went into making these thick ribbons of pasta. This mixed with roasted pheasant and morel mushrooms was then doused in a sauce that I wanted to slurp off my plate. The pheasant was moist, not too gamey and full of flavor.
I kept flirting with the fifteen foot enclosed wine tower that was hard to take my eyes off of. Stocked sexily with rich wines from Italy, France and California, I batted my eyes and beckoned the full-bodied liquid to entice me. While most of the wines are expensive, Drago Centro has a solid offering of reasonably priced wines that are fantastic. I was pleased with the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon bottles I enjoyed.
While not normally a dessert person, I was enticed by the menu and devoured the pumpkin, persimmon, brown sugar caramel and brown butter gelato. This combination was like a warm Fall afternoon in my mouth. Full of deep flavors and rich textures, I was reminded of family feasts during Thanksgiving and wearing sweaters as I walked in the crisp Fall breeze down Wilshire Boulevard.
From every angle Drago Centro has nailed it. I continuously recommend this restaurant and cannot wait to go back.
Drago Centro. Los Angeles, California.