Drago Santa Monica to close at end of January


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Southern California will say arrivederci to another Italian dining institution when Celestino Drago closes Drago in Santa Monica after 21 years -- following on the heels of the shutting of Evan Kleiman’s Angeli Caffe on Melrose Avenue.

Drago, who also owns Celestino, Drago Centro, Dolce Forno, Enoteca Drago and Il Pastaio, says he is shuttering the restaurant at the end of January.


“I decided after a lot of thought to not renew the lease. The lease expired and I was thinking of doing some big remodeling, but it wasn’t making a lot of sense,” Drago says. “It was kind of a tough decision because it’s like my baby. The restaurant did a lot for my career. But I’ve got my hands full with so much.”

Drago says he’d like to reopen the restaurant at a new location if it’s “the right place with the right deal.” But with Drago Centro “so busy, it’s good to have one less thing to worry about for now.” He also will continue to run Drago’s catering business.

In the meantime, several dishes from the original menu will be offered through January, starting Monday. So, if you want to dine like it’s 1991 at Drago, there will be: polenta sandwich with wild mushrooms, fontina cheese and truffle fondue; sautéed duck liver with aged balsamic glace and grilled endive; baked ziti with meat and cheese sauce, wrapped with eggplant; black and white tagliolini with bay scallop sauce; spaghetti with bottarga; sausage-filled quail and saltimbocca sauce; and pan-roasted lamb loin with potato tart and grilled mushrooms agrodolce.

2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 828-1585,


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-- Betty Hallock