REVIEW: Drago Ristorante delivers good food, slow service

On Valentine’s Day evening, the crowd at Drago Ristorante surprisingly filled up only three quarters of the restaurant. However, despite not having a full house, the service at Drago Ristorante was slow at best.

Nestled in the Petersen Automotive Museum, Drago Ristorante is the newest Italian restaurant to open on Museum Row. The design of the restaurant itself is sleek and modern — falling in line with the general aesthetic of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Clean lines and monochrome colors offset by colorful walls give the restaurant an elegant feeling and look. The restaurant feels open and larger than the space actually is as an open bar faces a  kitchen, while in between are perfectly spaced out seating.

Upon entry, the hostess was not present to greet patrons. As a result, it took a while before someone got seated. After being seated, it took at least another 20 to 25 minutes before a server could bring water or bread to the table. Afterward, it took another 15 to 20 minutes for the server to come back to take an order.

The restaurant offers a variety of Italian dishes commonly seen in Drago restaurants: pastas, pizzas, appetizers (antipasti) and entrees such as veal with truffle mashed potatoes. In comparison to other Drago restaurants, Drago Ristorante offers food under a similar price range. Dishes typically range from $11 to $28, and the other entrees could be anything above $25 to below $50.

The food is typically what people will find in many of the upscale, less traditional Italian restaurants throughout Los Angeles. Though the ingredients used were high quality, the dishes were not unique to the restaurant.

The waiting time between appetizers to entrees was long. However, the appetizer list does offer a unique twist at some points. In replacement of the typical bread that is usually served on a charcuterie board, there were square, fried bread pieces that are made fresh to order. These pieces were savory and a mixture of both crunchy and soft that complemented the cold cuts.

The main entree that stood out was the veal with truffle mashed potatoes. However, it was not the piece of steak itself, but rather the truffle mashed potatoes that was truly extraordinary. Unlike other restaurants, the mashed potatoes at Drago Ristorante were as smooth as a puree and infused with a heavy dose of truffle oil and truffle pieces that made the dish savory and fragrant.

Despite the quality of Drago Ristorante’s food, the restaurant wasn’t necessarily special — not for the price tags of the menu offerings nor the slow, unsatisfying service. The Drago brothers should focus less on the aesthetic of the restaurant and start improving the service they provide to their patrons.