Drago Drops Out of Fashion Island

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Photo: Drago

Remember Celestino Drago's plans for Osteria Drago in Newport's Fashion Island, a plan the O.C. Register labeled "a coup" for the revamped mall? It appears the deal is now off. The Daily Pilot breaks the news that Drago ditched Fashion Island to pursue "other opportunities," though the paper admits his reps are reluctant to spill much else. What's coming in Osteria Drago's place?

Chef Grant MacPherson will open an Italian restaurant of his own in the space, working fast within the last few weeks to fill what threatened to be glaring hole in the $100 million reopening's restaurant lineup. MacPherson is a veteran of Steve Wynn's hotels in Vegas, and now plans Rustica in 3,700 square-feet neighboring Nordstrom's. Rustica will have a large patio to serve house-baked breads and handmade pastas, all fresh with local seasoning, as well as gelato. MacPherson's name might not ring as many local bells as Drago's, diminishing the threat of a "coup" down South, but time will tell what Rustica brings to O.C.

Chef commits to O.C. eatery [Daily Pilot]