Chef Celestino Drago has played an integral role in the ever-evolving dining scene in Los Angeles for over two decades. Hailing from Sicily, Celestino has become one of the city's and the country's most lauded Italian chefs, with honors ranging from Food & Wine Magazine selecting him as a “Best New Chef” to being an invited guest chef at the James Beard House in New York on multiple occasions to being named Planned Parenthood LA’s FoodFare 2014 “Chef of the Year.” From his affable demeanor to his inventive and delicious takes on Italian fare, Chef Celestino Drago has helped lay the groundwork for Italian cuisine in America today.
Before launching his restaurant empire in Southern California, Celestino attended mechanical school in Italy while simultaneously working at a restaurant in the city of Pisa called Pierino. It was there that realized he “loved everything about the restaurant business.” Recognizing his culinary potential, the chef at Pierino worked closely with him and, in just three short years, Celestino took over as chef.
In 1979, Celestino was hired as chef at Los Angeles Italian restaurant, Orlando Orsini, prompting him to leave Italy to embark upon a new culinary career in the United States. After working at Orlando Orsini, Celestino worked at Spectrum Foods before opening his first restaurant, Celestino, in Beverly Hills. After receiving high praise, he was encouraged to open another restaurant, Drago, on bustling Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. Drago was met with rave reviews and was consistently rated in the top 5 Italian restaurants in Los Angeles before it closed in 2011. It was Celestino's success at Drago that led to his subsequent ventures, which include his artisanal bakery, Dolce Forno, the more upscale eatery, IL Pastaio in Beverly Hills, and Drago Centro in the heart of the Financial District in Downtown Los Angeles.
Celestino’s cuisine is deeply rooted in his childhood home in Sicily and since his arrival in Los Angeles he has been delighting diners with dishes that hearken back to his home country dishes imbued with the heritage and authenticity of true Italian fare. Celestino has been touted as one of the Best Italian Chefs in the United States by Bon Appétit and Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic S. Irene Virbila has called Celestino, "one of the best-known Italian restaurateurs in Southern California."