BY KAREN VILLALPANDO / SEPTEMBER 28, 2017
Drago at the Petersen
When the Petersen Automotive Museum underwent a $125 million renovation, it was only fitting to have a world class restaurant to complement the collection of priceless automobiles. The Drago brothers, Celestino, Calogero, Giacomino and Tanino, well-known Los Angeles restaurateurs, collaborated to create Drago at The Petersen, a colorful fusion of the museum’s slick architecture and the chefs’ innovative cusine. The curved, red stripes on the façade of the museum emulate motion. The motif is carried over in the restaurant with modern seating and eye-catching light fixtures. Celestino Drago helms the kitchen bringing his flair for Italian food to the Miracle Mile. Lunch begins with antipasti selections like mussels and clams in a spicy tomato broth and a calamari salad with julienned vegetables with a yuzu dressing. Beautiful burrata with prosciutto, heirloom cherry tomatoes and basil cream is a delightful starter. Grilled shrimp or chicken can be added to the Caesar salad with homemade croutons for a lunch-sized entrée. An interesting frisée and mixed green salad with Pink Lady apples, walnuts, smoked bacon and candied walnuts is tossed in a light champagne vinaigrette. I recommend sharing an antipasti and salad, and then selecting individual pastas to get the full Drago experience. The trenne al amaticiana is a simple yet highly satisfying dish with pancetta, onions, tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Risotto is one of Celestino’s specialties, so be sure to sample the risotto of the day. I’ve tasted his wild mushroom risotto with a splash of cream and pecorino cheese, which is excellent. He also prepares a version with butternut squash, zucchini flower roasted hazelnuts and Parmesan. The layers of flavors come through with each bite. If kids are in tow for your visit to The Petersen, they will find a burger on the menu as well as a variety of pizzas, like a simple Margherita, or spaghetti and meat balls. For a more sophisticated pizza, try the salmone affumicato, with smoked salmon, argulua, dill, pickled onions, capers and salmon caviar. I will come back again and again for this dish! Heartier entrées of pan roasted chicken and vitello Milanese showcase Drago’s Italian roots, expecially the spezzatino di bue, or beef braised in Barolo wine and served over polenta. Be sure to save room for dessert – Celestino’s tiramisu should not be missed. I enjoyed the crème brulee with a sugar crusted top and berries that was still slightly warm and oh so comforting. Drago at The Petersen is open daily for lunch or an early dinner from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. 6060 Wilshire Blvd. (323)800-2244.