TANINO RISTORANTE BAR
AN ITALIAN INSTITUTION IN WESTWOOD VILLAGE
When it comes to fine Italian dining in Los Angeles, the famed Drago Brothers are in a league all their own. Since the '80s, they have owned and operated some of the most popular, high-end Italian restaurants, including Il Pastaio, Il Fornaio Beverly Hills, Celestino in Pasadena, Drago Centro in downtown, and Tanino Ristorante Bar in Westwood Village.
Tanino belongs to executive chef/proprietor Tanino Drago, and his restaurant is rich in culture, exquisite architecture and filled with savory and delicious flavors of his home country. A native of Sicily, Tanino celebrates Italian cooking, eating and passion for life. Tanino believes his restaurant reflects his philosophy that food is the spice of life. And thank goodness for that.
Delighting Italian cuisine fans since 1998, you can always count on getting an authentic and delicious home cooked meal at Tanino. During our recent visit for dinner, we let the kitchen decide on our dishes and we thoroughly relished an Italian feast fit for kings.
Our first course started with the delicious Zuppa di Funghi—mushroom soup with fontina cheese, which was paired with Prosecco Zenato. If it’s one thing that the Dragos know, it’s truffles. If you see a mushroom dish on any of their menus, you should really get it.
Our second course was the Flori di Zucca in Pastella—fried zucchini blossoms filled with ricotta on a bed of tomato and basil sauce—paired with Gavi di Gavi Batasiolo (one of the most important dry white wines of Piedmont from the wine producing area of Gavi). This is a great, light and airy appetizer.
Pasta time and the kitchen created a mini sampler of three favorites. The Tortelloni di Zucca—pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage sauce—is ridiculously tasty. This one can easily become my go-to dish upon future visits. The Trofie alla Siciliana e Pistachio—housemade corkscrew pasta with rock shrimps, eggplant, and fresh mint in a pink sauce and pistachio—was delightful, while the Risotto Nero—squid ink risotto and calamari—was just devine. Although not as addictive as the squid ink risotto at Celestino (one of my absolute favorite dishes at the Drago Pasadena restaurant), this one was still a real treat and even outdid the same dish at Drago Centro. It’s definitely a Drago signature dish. All three pastas were paired with Cabernet Sauvignon Pappa Drago, a wonderful family wine.
Before our main course, we made an audible and ordered the Branzino alla grigli—a whole grilled imported Mediterranean Stripped bass served with sautéed spinach. Branzino is a favorite of mine and I just had to have it. This one is a great choice for anyone looking to have a not so heavy Italian meal. This one is not a decadent dish but is instead light and fresh.
Our main entrée was the Costine d’Abbacchio Scottadito—New Zealand lamb chops with Caponata in a white balsamic and mint sauce—paired with Brunello Di Montalcino Campofiore, an absolutely wonderful pairing. The chops were really tender and full of flavor.
Order any combination of these for dinner and you’ll be thoroughly satisfied, however, the kitchen will make sure you don’t skip dessert. We shared the Mela Rustica—warm apple tart on a crispy puff pastry with rum raisin ice cream—and the Panna Cotta ai Frutti di Bosco—baked custard with fresh Tahitian vanilla beans and seasonal berries—both of which were paired with a lovely Rose Moscato di Asti Batasiolo. Dessert was certainly overindulgent but it was also the perfect way to cap off a truly stellar meal. I really have to hand it to the Dragos, they have a great passion for food and love to share their fine fare with their guests, creating a memorable and palatable experience.
Tanino Ristorante Bar is located at 1043 Westwood Blvd. Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri from 11am to 2:30pm; Dinner Mon-Sat from 5pm and Sundays from 4:30pm Call (310) 208-0444.
Story by: Jose Martinez
Photography courtesy of: Tanino Ristorante Bar