WILSHIRE BLVD — After 21 years of serving Santa Monica, Italian restaurant Drago will be packing up its pans and closing its doors by the end of this month.

“It’s been an absolutely wonderful run in Santa Monica,” said owner Chef Celestino Drago, who opened the restaurant in 1991 and has operated it ever since.

The restaurant, located on Wilshire Boulevard near 26th Street, has been hailed by local and visiting foodies for its contemporary elegance and ever changing menu.

It is also credited by critics as being the first modern Italian restaurant in Southern California.

Santa Monica was the first site of Drago’s restaurateur presence in the Los Angeles area, but it has not been the last.

Drago also operates Drago Centro in downtown Los Angeles and Enoteca Drago and Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills.

Only the Santa Monica location is closing.

Although the Wilshire bistro is winding down, for the last month of operation the restaurant is featuring a special “throwback” menu. Starting Jan. 9., seven dishes from the original Drago Santa Monica menu will be incorporated into the current menu. Some of the retro options available to guests will be spaghetti with pressed, dried tuna caviar, or sausage-filled quail.

Despite the closure, Drago will be keeping a local presence, courtesy of catering services from Casa Bianca, Drago’s newest venue in Culver City.

“We’re going to recreate the Drago experience in the best possible place — the home,” he said.

For more information, call the Santa Monica Drago at (310) 828-1585.


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