CELESTINO RISTORANTE & BAR
SPECIAL SICILIAN CHEF MENU
I’ve been a fan of Pasadena’s Celestino Ristorante & Bar for years. Ever since I first reviewed the Italian restaurant, I’ve returned again and again to celebrate my birthday, for special family gatherings or just to enjoy a delicious dining experience.
I love the relaxed and casual atmosphere as well as the attentive and friendly service, and, of course, the spectacular Italian cuisine—among the best in Los Angeles. Its yearly truffle menu is an extravaganza not to be missed.
Recently, I was back for dinner and this time I put my dining experience in the capable hands of chef and owner Calogero Drago who put together a special multi-course Sicilian feast that goes for only $65 per guest. For over 20 years, Calogero Drago, of the famed Drago Brothers (Celestino, Tanino, Calogero and Giacomino)—the best Italian chefs in L.A.—has delighted guests’ palates with the taste of authentic Italian fare. This night’s Sicilian menu featured on and off menu items that absolutely wowed us. What follows is an example of what a Chef’s Sicilian Dinner menu can consist of. I highly recommend treating yourself right with this wonderful dining experience.
Sicilian cuisine staples include the use of citrus, as well as tuna, sea bass, cuttlefish, and swordfish, which are prominent on the island of Sicily—the biggest island in the Mediterranean. And don’t forget about Sicily’s beloved cannoli for dessert. Sicilian food also has Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences.
We started the evening’s Sicilian dinner with a sensational Swordfish Carpaccio, which was light and fresh and accentuated with terrific tangerines for some citrus zest. This paired perfectly with a wonderful white wine.
Our second course was a regular from the Specials menu, the Spaghetti Con Bottarga (spaghetti with dry tuna caviar). The pasta dish with tuna and garlic, which was hearty and so very flavorful, also paired perfectly with our recommended Gavi white wine.
Our elevated dinner kept soaring with our third course, a Risotto Marionette with Clams and Mushroom Sauce. This was another hearty dish that really delivered the goods with the clams and mushrooms and again went very well with a glass of white wine. This pairing was comfort food heaven.
For our fourth course, we were treated to Sicilian Style Breaded Swordfish with Lemon Olive Oil. Served with fresh vegetables and lemon zest, this is on the light side for a main entrée. While the swordfish is breaded, it is petite and yet fresh and very pleasing. Again, this is another great dish to go with white wine or you can even opt for a glass of red or rosé.
Sicilian dessert consisted of traditional Cannoli alla Siciliana (Sicilian cannoli with fresh whipped ricotta) and Orange Ricotta Cheesecake. Both were decadently delicious. The cannoli with fresh ricotta were fab and the cheesecake, again accentuated with citrus zest, was the perfect showstopper. As the perfect topper to a wonderful night out, it only got better with a pleasing glass of Limoncello.
I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Celestino enough for anyone looking for an amazing and truly authentic Italian dinner. It is absolutely time well spent and well worth the trek to Pasadena if you’re not a local.
Celestino Ristorante & Bar is located at 141 S. Lake Avenue in Pasadena. Open daily. Call (626) 795-4006.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Some Photography Courtesy Of: Celestino Ristorante & Bar