Drago Centro

Perfect pastas and a wine list for the ages in Downtown

By Jen Jones Donatelli

Drago Centro was one of the early movers and shakers in what’s now DTLA’s red-hot dining scene, and ten years later it continues to pave the way with its contemporary, cosmopolitan take on classic Italian cuisine. Making its home in the location of a former bank—appropriately, the kitchen is situated where the vault once was—this classy, low-lit yet sprawling place is the crowning achievement of chef and owner Celestino Drago. And given his family’s history in restaurants, that’s saying something.

At Drago Centro, pasta, surf, and turf rule. For the first of these, a tasty trifecta of different styles grace the menu: fresh egg pastas, like basil pesto spaghetti; hard durum pastas like farfalle; and filled and baked pastas, like lasagna Bolognese. Don’t miss the favorite pappardelle al fagiano, painstakingly prepared with roasted pheasant and morel mushroom ragout.

If you feeling like indulging yourself a bit, the five-course tasting menu makes ample use of a rotating cast of seasonal ingredients. Starting with foie gras torchon with strawberry and hazelnuts, this showcase goes on to offer pan-roasted jumbo scallops with pine nuts and pickled raisins, saffron tagliatelle with shrimp and zucchini, and a Colorado Wagyu steak, with an orange praline semifreddo to finish.

Other big events include the tableside presentation of tagliata per due—a convivial experience that includes bone-in ribeye for two, served with roasted spring vegetables and creamy polenta. If you’re leaning more to surf than turf, dishes like the branzino or the scallops are sure to satisfy.
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Of course, it wouldn’t be an Italian feast without a healthy accompaniment of vino. And you have plenty of options with sommelier Mark Sadr’s carefully curated wine list: 940 labels to be exact. Sadr estimates that Drago Centro has up to 10,000 bottles stored in its massive glass wine vault—something worth raising a glass, or two, to.

And speaking of glasses, a pour of grappa makes the perfect finish to your meal here. That is unless you’re in more of a gelato mood. Either way, you’re sure to leave here humming “that’s amore.”

Handkerchief pasta, jumbo lump crab, arugula pesto, chile flakes, lemon


Dinner: 5 PM–10 PM daily
Lunch: Mon–Fri: 11:30 AM–2:30 PM

price range

$18 (lasagne alla Bolognese) to $115 (tagliata per due)