Dinner With Drago

Speaking and eating Italian on Sunset

The buona seras and buon appetitos thrown around at Osteria Drago are a bit too practiced, the Italian opera soundtrack a tad loud and dramatic.

They are especially overwrought for an Italian restaurant with a Japanese-American chef, Evan Gotanda, who previously ran the kitchen at Celestino Drago's now-shuttered Drago Santa Monica.

Still, it quickly became clear that the only accent diners should be attuned to at this newly opened Sunset Plaza spot is Gotanda's pitch-perfect culinary one.

The first course might be a hearty bean-and-kale soup ($8), or an artfully constructed seafood salad served over sea-urchin panna cotta ($16). The dishes show that Gotanda treads comfortably in both the high and low ends of the Italian cooking pantheon.

And as Gotanda showed in Santa Monica, he has a way with pasta. The numerous doughy choices are where we found some of the most interesting, exciting cooking.

Venison, which we also enjoyed in the guise of carpaccio ($14), is the base of his deeply flavorful Bolognese ($15). Clinging to chewy ricotta- and spinach-enriched cavatelli (made in-house, naturally), the sauce has us pining for winter even more than this heat wave has. 

 Osteria Drago, 8741 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-657-1182 or osteriadrago.com