Drago has been a favorite restaurant of ours since it first opened. In those days we had a system where we had our friends to our house for a drink about 30 minutes before our presumed reservation. But, we did not go to Drago until we called and found out if they had our table ready…no reason to stand outside. The lines used to be that long at Drago.
Drago’s service team were always Italian guys who were really knowledgeable about the food and really brought an Italian sensibility plus personality plus. That is not the case now. I would call it generic servers who could be in any mid-level restaurant in Los Angeles.
An amuse from the kitchen – Arancini. This used to be served with bruschetta with tomatoes and shaved parmesan – no more
Salumi – proscuitto, salame, mortadella, speck – we ordered this knowing that there was no way the kitchen could mess up cured meats
The salumi was served with fritto gnocco – excellent
Sous vide egg, parmesan espuma, proscuitto chip, toasted brioche, spinach souffle cubes – this was the dish of the evening – inventive and well-prepared
Spaghetti, cured tuna (bottarga), oil, garlic, lemon zest. The bottarga dish was awful…this is a dish that has had a special, distinctive taste since the restaurant opened. Last night it tasted like pasta in badly made dishwater…all of the unique character of the bottarga was missing. Jason, the new manager, came over to ask how everything was and my husband said he couldn’t eat one bite of the bottarga. Jason sought to explain this change to us by saying, “We knew you probably would order this and knew you would be disappointed. We can’t get the original bottarga and this one has to have lemon zest added to try and replicate the original bottarga. Sorry about that.”
The question, why not tell me? Why compromise? Why represent the dish as the “old standard”?
Small rigatoni, pancetta, onion, tomato – adequate
Sweet corn ricotta pillows, white truffles, parmesan cheese – the white truffles made this a $36.00 entree. The white truffles were tasteless and basically non-existent.
White corn agnolotti at Spago – what a difference.
The bottom line, not withstanding the delicious egg dish, we won’t go back — too many disappointing dishes and the whole feeling that we loved at Drago is gone.