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reservation at Rao's


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  1. Forgetaboutit. Not doable unless you know someoe who's a regular. (See numerouus posts on this subject.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ann900

      Ann got that right. Fageetaboutit,,,, go to las vegas you can get in to that Rao's no problem And dont let anyone tell you Frankie Pelligrino's baldaria in the 40's is same as Rao's the only similarity is the roasted peppers which are great

    2. There is no way that I know of, unless you are a guest of someone who's a "member". I've been only once with this way and the best part hands down was the scenery. The food was totally secondary. Don't get me wrong, it was good and fresh and well prepared, but no better or worse than you'd get at your Italian grandmother's house.

      1. Sorry.

        If one has to ask, one ain't gonna eat there.

        There was a time when one could enjoy a cocktail or two at the bar and feel quite comfortable. There was a time about a year and a half back when people were abusing that privilege. There is *no way* you're going to segue from the bar to a table *unless* you're invited by the "owner" of the table.

        Vinnie Rao's in Heaven, and he's probably laughing at all the people carrying on about things down here on earth...

        1. Since it's not likely you're going to be able to eat there here's a link to a CH post which will give you a feel for the food. (It's good, not great.)


          1. I got there when a friend won a table at a charity auction. Agree with everyone else that the food is very good, but not spectacular. The theater is priceless. I'll never forget Frank P and 2 very well known moguls who were dining together all singing Under the Boardwalk. Lucky for them, this was way before anyone had video on their phones - it would have been a You Tube sensation!

            1. Buy the cookbook and have your Italian grandma help you make one of the dishes (that's what I did).
              It's about as close as most of us will ever get to eating there.
              If you don't have an Italian grandma, you can borrow mine for a day--Grandpa won't mind as long as you save him some food :)

              1. I went a few times several years ago when I was dating the son of someone with a regular table. You can make better Italian-American food at home without even trying too hard. It's all about the mystique.

                But if you have your heart set on it, as Harrison also mentions in his post , I have seen dinner at Rao's offered for auction at more than one NY-area charity event, most recently at a food industry event this fall. So, you could sniff around in that direction or just ask everyone you know if they know someone with a table.

                1. just managed to get myself a table for next Thursday- will report back

                  2 Replies
                  1. I'm so dismayed by all the allusions to mediocre food. I have memories, from my youth, of delightful fare, well-prepared and simply served.

                    We went at least once a month back in the late '70s-early '80s. Ann and Vincent were alive then, and working in the restaurant. My "in" was the guy I worked for. Eight or more of us would go up.

                    I have memories of richly-flavored hot appetizers contrasting with a cool, delightful salad of good mozzarella and *perfectly* ripe tomatoes.

                    I recall angel hair pasta, done perfectly, and sauced with a bright red, almost orange fresh tomato sauce that was an exercise in lightness.

                    Entrees tended to be full of flavor and very rich.

                    The meal ended with espresso and anisette for everyone, and then a splendid platter of the most perfectly ripe fruit -- chilled -- would be put before us with knives and plates as accessories. The grapes, plums, and oh, the peaches!

                    I was young and not very experienced in restaurant eating, but I had already gotten a taste of haute cuisine and mediocre cuisine. Rao's wasn't haute cuisine but it certainly wasn't mediocre at all.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: shaogo

                      I've eaten there several times as an invited guest of a table holder. The food was good but not spectacular..Much better 'Nonna' meals are to be had at Enoteca Maria on SI.

                      Enoteca Maria
                      27 Hyatt St, Staten Island, NY 10301

                      1. re: Tay

                        Too bad Monte's Venetian Room isn't open anymore. Monte's in it's heyday blows away Rao's for the scene. Food is the same.

                        1. re: captainspacefood

                          Did Monte's close recently? It was still there about 6mo ago.

                          1. re: EJC

                            The building is still there but it's been closed for more than a year.


                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                              It was for sale for $300,000 a few months ago. No idea if it was bought.

                    2. Somehow many years ago my wife was able to get a reservation at Rao's twice. Once was in 1986 and again a year or 2 later. As has been stated, the food is good, not great. It's your typical red sauce meal. Service was good and there was the requisite celebrity or 2. It's expensive for what it is or was.

                      1. Allright so it has been a loooong time since I've been there. About 25 years. I'm going in a few days. I've heard that the food is basic red sauce Italian, but is good. Is there anything in particular I should order? Yes, yes, the famous meatballs. But what else should I aim for?

                        Also, what is the dress code these days? I am hearing some folks say wear a tie, and others say jeans are fine. Color me confused.

                        I started a new post about this yesterday but it got deleted after a few replies, not sure why though, and I didn't get to see any of the responses. Would love some input. Thanks all.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: captainspacefood

                          Wear a tie and a jacket. You'll feel better there dressed that way.

                          1. re: gutsofsteel

                            Perfect, thank you. Now if we could only get one member of our party to take his lip ring out. Ha.

                          2. re: captainspacefood

                            It's changed a lot. 25 years ago, maybe jeans were okay. Not now.

                            Beside the meatballs, veal dishes are good. Start with the fish salad unless you hate seafood. Don't order steak.

                            The singing and the fun that're part of the show these days didn't happen 25 years ago. It was a different place. Not worse, not better -- just different.

                            1. re: shaogo

                              Rao's was great. The food was solid all around. Seafood salad was a great start. Calamari. Sausage and broccoli rabe pasta. A ziti red sauce pasta too. The meatballs. Very good, tender. Veal piccata. Pork chops. Chicken. Ice cream. Cheesecake.

                              I would encourage everyone to check this place out. The bill was rather large, but we drank a lot of wine. Definitely get there for a meal, it's a great experience and staff were super accommodating and friendly. I can't wait to go back. It's been too long.

                              1. re: captainspacefood

                                But you can't check the place out unless you are invited by someone who has a regular table.

                                1. re: Wilfrid

                                  True. I would highly recommend snagging an invite from a friend. It's well worth it.

                                2. re: captainspacefood

                                  How did you manage to score a reservation?

                                  1. re: whitneybee

                                    Oh a friend of mine was invited to sit at a table and was able to bring a few folks with him.