On the Sunset Strip is LA’s famed Italian chef Celestino Drago’s latest, Osteria Drago. The space is a study in schizophrenia, classic Italian meets cheesy mod design. The service is pure LA, incredibly warm and inviting at one turn, slightly surly and off-putting at others. As for the menu, it is Italian of the moment meets greatest hits of the past, meaning you’ll find a salad with kale, one with beets, things like venison carpaccio and sea urchin panna cotta and lots of pastas and expensive meat and fish dishes.
The question is, does it all work?
The zuppetta di cozze, p.e.i mussels, tomato and garlic is a classic preparation and stands on its own fairly well. Nothing here will blow you away but you’ll be happy enough with the order.
A special, spaghetti with lobster is the second course and is loaded down with the crustacean (great) but a little lacking in taste (not so much). Luckily, you’re paying for all that lobster so take out a second mortgage or hope the agent you’re with is footing the bill.
As for the last course, grilled ahi tuna, beet greens, gremolata – you’ll probably feel like you’re eating from a menu fifteen years ago but damn if it doesn’t taste great.
How does Osteria Drago compare to the happening Italian of the moment? Places like Bestia, Sotto etc. That really depends on what you want out of your meal. The clientele on this night was a lot of wealthy blue hairs, cheesy hipsters with rich parents and The Monster and his friends.
Some people appeared to be in gustatory heaven while others looked like they’d walked onto the wrong set altogether.
Know going in this is a pricey experience and you’re eating on Sunset with all the good and bad that entails. If you were an Il Sole acolyte you might find yourself bemoaning the spaces closing or praising the newcomer.
All in all, Osteria Drago is the kind of place The Monster will gladly go back to. If you are paying.
Why go? You’re diamonds are vintage Liz Taylor and your dress is straight Kardashian.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
8741 West Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069