Though Sicilian, Celestino Drago has always had a fascinaion with a formality not associated with the south. What results are dishes that are rigorously composed yet laced with the robust flavors of his native island. The salt cod cake is brought into relief with caper berry gremolata. There is something essential about Italy itself in the garganelli, dressed with pork sausage and fennel seeds.
Best Happy Hour, August 2011
It never ends at Drago Centro
, the upscale downtown Italian restaurant and bar. As long as the place is open, you can order select cocktails for a mere $5, along with tasty bites at tasty prices ($3 to $10). A Manhattan and salmon crostini
can cost less than a vodka and soda and peanuts elsewhere. Free three-hour parking starting at 5 p.m. should also gratify penny-pinchers.
Best Private Dining Room, August 2010
At Drago Centro, the Flower Room has velvet wall coverings and Murano glass chandeliers, but the restaurant's Vault Room really gets people talking. The space is a former Bank of America repository. It has the same crisp design as the main dining room, but here the walls are marble and stone, with burnt orange accents and seating for 42. The centerpiece is the exhibition kitchen, where namesake Celestino Drago or chef de cuisine Ian Gresik can prepare the entire meal. Watch pappardelle with roasted pheasant and morels made in front of you, or catch the action on closed-circuit TVs for added cooking-show-come-to-life appeal.