Jonathan Gold bemoans the lack of sidewalk dining in L.A., surveying what he sees as the perfect climate and landscape to go al fresco on the curbside. This desire to take it to the streets is one of the first things that has him in love with Osteria Drago, though a few lost strains of The Crüe on Sunset Blvd. may also help. The restaurant is charming for being "just far enough from the mediocre sidewalk restaurants of Sunset Plaza to feel apart from them," while his server seduces him in Italian before de-boning a Dover sole table-side as the famous stretch keeps him entertained.
Recounting his decades-long adventure "attending the restaurants of Celestino Drago and his brothers" like a proud, beaming babbo, the critic calls Osteria "a simpler version of the Santa Monica Drago," improving the former Il Sole by scrapping penne alla vodka with cavatelli with a venison ragù and ditching its chicken mila-malaise with an improved roast cluck "with fresh artichokes, peas and fava beans." Comparing Drago's reinvention to the urgency and necessity found in a new Stones album, Gold may have been just as content with Drago' Santa Monica's Exile on Main Street menu instead of Osteria's Emotional Rescue, ultimately declaring, "Nothing here is revolutionary; almost everything here is good." [LAT]