I just love the Drago brothers, each one of them are kind and add so much to our culinary world here in Los Angeles. Their newest collective incarnation is just the best thing I’ve experienced in a very long time. It’s a fresh, fun and modern cuisine at its finest.
Inside the Petersen Automotive Museum is the perfect foodies’ oasis. Drago Ristorante is located inside the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard, along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Petersen Automotive Museum is one of the world’s largest automotive museums, housing more than 300 vehicles and specializing in automobile history and education.
When you’re hungry and tired from looking at all of the classic cars there’s a wonderful restaurant right there. This location was completely overhauled very recently and when they renovated it they brought in Drago which used to be Johnny Rockets.
Then there’s my old friend Oscar who I know from the great Nonna’s restaurant on Sunset that I reviewed twice a few years back. Seeing Oscar made me feel right at home. The food and ambiance is just so remarkable. Simple and modern, elegant and subtle, it’s everything you would want from dining in a great establishment.
Here’s What I tried:
Pomegranate Martini, served in a proper martini glass, not too sweet, more on the sour side, but a great starter.
Calamari Fritti Con Verdure, fried calamari and vegetable, lemon caper tartare. It’s light and fluffy, the tartare sauce is so delicious.
Delizie Vegetariane, caponata, marinated roasted bell peppers, seasonal roasted vegetables, pea puree, toasted ciabatta bread. The best part of this dish for me was the pea puree, you would mistake it for guacamole, but once you taste it you too will fall in love with its rich pea flavor.
Mozzarella Caprese, mozzarella cheese, heirloom tomato, roasted bell peppers. A nice well rounded salad with the perfect heirloom tomatoes.
Cosa Buone chopped salad, tomato, romaine, beans, avocado, cheese, salami. I have tasted many chopped salads but never like this one, really fantastic.
Cesare – Caesar Salad, romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, croutons. This is the perfect Caesar salad, nice light anchovy dressing, truly great.
Mele e Indivia, pink lady apple, smoked bacon, candied walnuts, frisee, mixed lettuce, champagne vinaigrette. The bacon and the candied walnuts really make for one elegant salad.
Carne e pesci:
Burger, Beef Burger, caramelized onions, Portobello mushrooms, Fontina cheese, truffle fries. What a burger, is all I can say.
Salmon, pan roasted Atlantic salmon, season sauté vegetables. This salmon is very fresh and light and the vegetable are cooked to perfection.
Filetto di Brazino alla Livornese European sea bass, tomato olives caper broth. Its got a crispy skin and the flavors will make you come back for more.
Bucatini Carbonara con Piselli bacon, peas, egg yolk, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Just the right amount of creaminess and the smoky bacon adds to the over all precision is in the dish.
Spaghetti Frutti di Mare, shrimp, calamari, bay scallops, salt spring mussels, Manilla clams. This one has a bit of a kick to it, probably from the pepperoncini that they don’t tell you about, but the seafood is wonderful and the tomato sauce is rich with goodness.
Linguine Vongole, linguine, Manilla clams, garlic, fresh parsley. The clams are tender and pop in your mouth, with a very delicate simple sauce.
Lasagna Bolognese, baked meat lasagna. It is served in a mini casserole dish, with a nice meaty sauce, one of my favorite lasagnas.
Risotto Porcini e Mascapone risotto with porcini mushrooms and mascarpone cheese. This is a creamy, rich, mushroom packed risotto, very wonderful.
Fusilli Vodka fusilli with prosciutto and vodka. Springy type noodles lap up the sauce. It is a simple and direct sauce that has nice vodka nuances.
Culurgiones Sardi, black and white shrimp filled pasta, lobster bell pepper sauce. This was by far my favorite dish of the day. It is rich with shrimp goodness and the black and white kidney shaped raviolis are just amazing. The black part is a squid ink pasta; this complicated dish is so worth tasting.
Funghi e Peperoni mushroom, salami, mozzarella. They have a wood burning pizza oven so of course the pizza would be fantastic.
Salmone Affumicato, smoked salmon, srugula, dill, pickled onions, capers, and salmon caviar. This is kind of a Spago’s type salmon pizza but with more elegance, I just loved it.
Crostata de Cioccolato e Caramello chocolate and caramel tart. A nice chocolate caramel ending to my incredible lunch.
Cream Brulee Limone e Lavanda lemon lavender cream brulee, the lemon adds a nice nuance to this special brulee.
Sauvignon Blanc, Cakebread cellars, Napa Valley, 2015, I would drink this with the salmon or branzino, and both work perfectly with the fruit forward grapes in this wine.
Chardonnay, Ronco del Gelso, Sietvignis, Friuli Italy, 2014, anything that has shrimp in it will be a great pair with this wine.
The history of the Drago kitchen: Born and raised in the Messina area of Sicily, are the four Drago brothers, Celestino, Tanino, Calogero and Giacomino. They have owned and operated some of the Los Angeles area’s most prolific Italian restaurants. Celestino Drago immigrated to Los Angeles from Sicily in the mid-1970s, and held his first job with Osteria Romana Orsini on Pico Boulevard as a chef before leaving to launch Celestino, “his seminal Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills (now defunct but re-created in Pasadena under the same name)”. He brought over three of his brothers from the family restaurant in Messina. Celestino parted ways with investor Art Vella in 1999. The restaurants feature hand-cranked pastas, pizza, fresh-baked bread. Drago Ristorante offers elevated, yet authentic Italian fare and a heavy dose of classic Italian hospitality that the Drago brothers have been providing Angeleno’s and visitors alike for over three decades.
The Drago family has owned and operated some of the most famous high-end Italian restaurants in Los Angeles, California since the 1980s. They are known for their homemade pasta dishes. Past and present Drago restaurants include: Celestino (in Beverly Hills until 1991; now operating in Pasadena), L’Arancino (closed), Celestino Steak House (West Hollywood, closed 2009), Drago, Santa Monica (closed), Il Pastaio, Enoteca Drago Beverly Hills wine bar, Drago Centro (a Stanley Felderman designed restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, opened 2009), Osteria Drago (West Hollywood, opened 2012), Tanino Ristorante Bar, and Panzanella Ristorante Sherman Oaks.
Drago has a catering and special events division. They offer full catering and production services for any event, from wedding receptions, elegant dinners, corporate cocktail parties and charity galas. With award-winning menus that change seasonally, Drago Catering Special Events has an ongoing commitment to bring innovative, high quality food and impeccable service to all catered occasions.
I am awestruck with this new addition to the Drago’s fleet of restaurants, each one has its own specialties, but this new Drago really has my attention. The design is very modern with a view to the first floor cars at The Petersen. But what sets this new one apart is how they were able to do everything in such a small compact space. They will be opening up their patio soon, which will add some more tables, but the intimate small setting for me makes all the difference in the world. Once they have completed their renovations for the patio they will have dinner service as well. Being able to have a luxurious lunch and then tour the cars is just the right amount of fun for my Sunday.
Bon appetito, enjoy Drago at The Petersen it will put a big smile on your face like it did mine!
Open Daily: 11:00am – 6:00pm
6060 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Inside the Petersen Automotive Museum
* Note some content was taken off of their website