Notable Chefs and Restaurateurs

Notable Chefs and Restaurateurs

Piero Selvaggio, Celestino Drago & Drago brothers, Evan Kleiman

Celestino Drago. Sicilian-born restaurateur and chef (from Galati Mamertino, province of Messina) and member of an active brood of restaurateur brothers. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1979 at the age of 22, and is now considered one of our celebrity chefs. Drago "dreamed of owning and operating a restaurant that truly expressed his creative soul and in 1991, Drago Ristorante was born." This highly successful restaurant in Santa Monica, was followed by il Pastaio in Beverly Hills, Celestino Ristorante in Pasadena (now owned and operated by his brother Calogero) and Celestino Italian Steakhouse in West Hollywood.

Tanino, Giacomino and Calogero Drago, a trio of brother restaurateurs, who recall their direct experience on the land (picking olives, milking cows, making wine) with great fondness. They have created successful establishments such as Tanino Ristorante Bar (Westwood), Il Pastaio, Piccolo Paradiso (Beverly Hills) and Celestino (Pasadena), have expanded into the San Fernando Valley with Panzanella. See "Family Biography" at:

Evan Kleiman. Majored in Italian and Film at UCLA but discovered her true passion to be cooking, spending much time in Italy, fascinated with the traditional cooking methods and culture of the Italian kitchen, which led her to the homes and trattorie of Italian women and to her own cooking philosophy of cucina rustica. Evan felt there was a need for a "modern family restaurant," a restaurant that would serve light and simple food that was both stylish and affordable. In December of 1984, she opened Angeli Caff╦, a hip Italian restaurant on Melrose Avenue designed to serve "simple rustic food in a modern environment." "Probably no restaurant concept has been so widely copied in LA as the original Angeli Caff╦." It was here that the L.A. Convivium of Slow Food, organized by Evan, was founded (See FOOD: Associations). For "All about Evan" see:

Evan Kleiman hosts KCRW's "Good Food," has authored numerous cookbooks, and is active in sustainability projects and farmerÝs markets.

Piero Selvaggio: Perhaps the most famous Italian restaurateur in Los Angeles (via Modica, Sicily). Valentino, his flagship restaurant (founded in 1972), known as one of the finest (and most expensive) restaurants in the U.S., also has the best and largest wine cellar anywhere of over 230,000 bottles (cf. Wine Spectator). In the earthquake of the early 1990s, the gutters outside his restaurant ran red with the wine lost from this cellar! Selvaggio now devotes much of his energy to his Las Vegas restaurants: Valentino Las Vegas, The Grill at Valentino (at the Venetian), Giorgo Caffe e Ristorante (Mandalay Bay Resort). For more on Piero Selvaggio: See also for an interview with Selvaggio in Italian and English. Antonio Casa