Why mess with perfection. Celestino in Pasadena doesn’t need to do anything other than continue to serve fantastic food, while also charming the heck out of their customers.
You are always greeted by Calogero Drago, the younger brother of Drago fame. He is a wonderful host, making you feel special with each culinary turn. When you walk into Celestino the energy consumes you, and the staff makes you feel so welcome and wonderful.
Nicole the hostess is very gracious; she has been at Celestino for many years and is loved by the customers. The night I was there one of their customers gave her a Christmas gift.
My waiter Girgio Vizia from Leguria came complete with a very heavy Italian accent, but spoke perfect English. His good looks and formidable knowledge about all things Italian made for a very exciting experience.
Regular customers Geri and David were sitting next to me and they live in nearby Glendale. David has lived in the area most of his life and they come in once a week to Celestino. Geri says that the waiters always remember them and the cooks are always happy. She says, “Happy Cook, Happy Life”. They love the ambiance and the great service. The other folks to my left were a mother and a 3 daughter ensemble. The Mom told me that she brought her husband to Celestino to tell him that she was pregnant with her twins, and low and behold they were siting right next to me, and that was 11 years ago. So pretty much Celestino can also be viewed as a place to have a very special occasion, like the announcement of twins.
The night I went the dining room was decked out for Christmas, with lovely merry decorations. Making the beginning of my holiday season truly magical.
Here’s what I tried:
Arancini with peas drissled with balsamic. It similar to a croquette, but with a more Italian feel. What ever they do it’s totally worth the calories.
Porcini Mushroom Soup with Black Truffle. Velvety smooth with such great mushroom flavor and the luscious shaved truffle on the top, what more could you ask for.
Insalata Frutti Di Mare: Mixed Seafood Salad (shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops.) All of my favorite food items in in one fresh salad, need I say more!!
Burrata con Basilico e Pomodorini di Pachino: Buttery Mozarrella cheese with Basil and Cherry tomatoes. This is my go to antipasti; the burrata is just oozing with fresh cheese flavor.
Homemade Wide Pappardelle with baby scallops. The pasta is all homemade at 4 am each morning. It is an egg noodle, with great texture cooked al dente. I loved this pasta.
Gnocchi with pesto sauce. I don’t order enough pesto when I am dining out, this was a special delight.
Tortellini with Veal and cacao pepe sauce, and fresh truffle. Another miraculous recipe, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
Risotto with Sea Urchin, shrimp, and asparagus. This pasta has much to offer, with all of its fantastic components, this is one to order.
Carne e Pesce:
Ossobuco alla Milanese: Veal Shank with Saffron Risotto. The veal shanks fall right off the bone and the sauce is a bold hearty meat sauce.
Filet Mignon with Montrelle Mushrooms. They cooked the steak very rare, but it’s so tender, great menu item!
The Wine I tried:
Inzolia Chardonnay 2012 – Feudo Zirtani- White Terre Sicliane . A little fruity and tangy, both with such great terroir how could you go wrong. It worked great with all the pasta’s and the seafood salad.
Cesus – Sangioveses Di Toscana 2003 – Red . This wine was a stand out with the steak and the ossobuco. It added the right hint of fruit forward essence.
The Drago Brothers are consistently bringing amazingly delicious food to this Pasadena favorite restaurant. Calogero Drago has created a variety of handcrafted dishes using the freshest seafood, finest homemade pastas, organic meats, and desserts made on-site. Celestino has been delighting locals and tourists from all over the world with the greatest authentic Italian cuisine anywhere in Southern California. Calogero infuses Celestino with all the hallmarks of a famed Drago Brother’s restaurant — expertly crafted food made with the finest, freshest ingredients, combined with an elegantly casual environment where every customer is made to feel like family. They made Pasadena Magazine’s Best Of list in 2009, in addition to being lauded by Zagat, Food & Wine, and many others.
Celestino offers three dynamic private rooms to accommodate to the specific needs of each individual, Lake Room: can accommodate up to 25 people. Garden View Room: is a much larger space and can accommodate up to 55 guests. Garden Patio: their back patio is appropriate for groups of up to 30 people.
I was so lucky to be bestowed with a huge container of dried pasta, 4 different kinds by Calogero. He showed me their pasta machine and was just so proud of his chef making their glorious pasta at 4am.
Really… run don’t walk to this best kept secret in Pasadena. Come with an empty stomach and you will leave with a full heart and be one of the many satisfied customers!!
141 S. Lake St.