Born in Eastern Europe near the Italian border, executive chef Mario Curko has an innate rapport with Mediterranean flavors, one that he's honed throughout his four decades in the restaurant business. His menu for the occasional celeb hangout Destino stays true to homestyle southern Italian cuisine, although the restaurant's environs are far from rustic—a Renaissance-style ceiling mural looks down over minority owner Justin Timberlake's piano and quilted banquettes, wooing diners with its vibrant colors achieved by layers of garlic-scented oil paint.
Atop white tablecloths, appetizers such as sautéed mussels and housemade meatballs rest in simple, elegant preparations. Mussels, clams, shrimp, and fresh fish of the day all catch themselves in the frutti de mare's net, offering a hearty complement to turfy plates of new york strip steak.
Destino's wine list rambles from California whites through dozens of regional Italian reds. The dessert menu shines a spotlight on four flavors of housemade gelato, molten chocolate cake, and traditional tiramisu.