Drago Centro

Drago Centro is refined enough that an empty bowl for shells accompanies the linguine alle vongole, but on occasion chef-owner Celestino Drago and chef de cuisine Ian Gresick will roast a whole suckling pig. A private party (seated in what used to be a bank vault) beams as waiters file in with platters of chanterelles and truffles. In the main dining room people linger, looking toward the steps of the Central Library as they relish the last drop of Gaja.

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.