What a Drag-o! Celestino Drago Closing Santa Monica Flagship

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Celestino Drago Photo: Drago

Fast following the news that Evan Kleiman is shuttering her 20-year-old Melrose Italian institution Angeli Caffe, The Los Angeles Times reports that chef Celestino Drago will close his 21-year-old eponymous gem, Drago, in Santa Monica at the end of the month. The popular restaurant was scratching its head over how to handle a fading lease in this year of the dragon, leading the chef to decide against a renewal and subsequent renovation as he claims, "I’ve got my hands full with so much.” Drago is likely referring to his five other family-run restaurants, which include Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills and Downtown's Drago Centro, which remains successful, according to the chef. So, what does the future hold for a Westside Drago?

Drago is open to a new location, if the time and place is right, while he will take a page from the John Sedlar Experiment and offer options of some the restaurant's original dishes to close out the month. With endless options for mediocre Italian food crowing the Westside, it's difficult to part with a restaurant that consistently kept the bar raised so high, no less in the throes of Angeli's passing. Here's crossing our fingers that the 2012 apocalypse predictions weren't only tuned into the fate of L.A.'s time-tested treasures.

Drago Santa Monica to close at end of January [LAT]

Related: Drago Drops Out of Fashion Island [GS]