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Revolutionizing Spaghetti Celestino Drago Serves Traditional Italian Dish With Spirit
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Date: Jun 28, 1987
Start Page: 30
Section: Los Angeles Times Magazine; Times Magazine Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

"The dish was one of the signature specialties of my mentor, Ignazio Diana, the head chef at Pierino in Pisa, where I received my early training," owner and chef [Celestino Drago] says. Drago inherited the dish when Diana left to open his own restaurant and Drago replaced him. "There are many parchment dishes in Italy (forerunners of the en papillote dishes of France), but no one had tried aluminum foil. I made some further changes, adding curry to the sauce, but it was one of those dishes you never forget. It became part of my repertoire, and I promised myself it would be a specialty when I owned my own place," says Drago, whose establishment has become a star among Italian restaurants in Los Angeles.

Drago, who had been brought in from Italy by the owners of Orlando-Orsini restaurant in West Los Angeles, was among the first of the professional Italian chefs to revolutionize Italian cooking in Los Angeles. "It wasn't an easy road," Drago confesses. "In the early '70s, we had a hard time finding basic ingredients-things like fresh basil and Reggiano Parmesan, not to mention white truffles." Drago and many of his colleagues fought misconceptions about Italian cooking by diners who expected Italian sauces to be thick and the scaloppini batter-fried, and that the only pasta served would be ravioli, manicotti and spaghetti.

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