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Any Tips on Getting into Rao's ?


Visiting from out of town and would like to get into Rao's the Friday after Thanksgiving...any tips on how I might get a reservation or get in or forget about it?


455 E 114th St, New York, NY 10029

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  1. It might help if you were in The Mafia. (A high-ranking union official at the very least.)

    1 Reply
    1. Buy it at a charity event,

      1. Words has it you can eat at the bar as a walk in. I'm sure if you time it right, you can also get a table as a walk in. That doesn't help you with a reservation, or put you anywhere near a good backup if you don't luck out. The original Patsy's is nearby, so that would be one good suggestion.

        The day after Thanksgiving sounds like it might be prime for people to use their tables, or give a reservation for a gift.

        9 Replies
        1. re: sugartoof

          "Words has it you can eat at the bar as a walk in. I'm sure if you time it right, you can also get a table as a walk in."

          To the OP - I would call and attempt to confirm that. That sounds like Babbo, not Rao's.

          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

          1. re: Bob Martinez

            It's not something they're going to confirm over the phone. It's something confirmed by the countless reports of having done so.

            One just has to go expecting to get turned away, so their night isn't ruined.

            1. re: sugartoof

              "It's something confirmed by the countless reports of having done so."

              Have any of them ever posted that information of Chowhound? If so, could you link to it?

              1. re: sugartoof

                "Countless" reports of people walking into Rao's and eating at the bar or a table? Can you point to, let's say, two of those reports here on CH?

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    Did you even read those topics? You can't eat at the bar.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      You just linked to 2 threads that don't support your position in any way. You said they occasionally served walk-ins. Not one post on either thread mentioned that. Yes, you can get a drink at the bar but they won't serve you a meal.

                    2. re: gutsofsteel

                      Perhaps a couple of years ago, while doing research in the neighborhood, I walked by Rao's in midafternoon and saw the door open. "You want, you can have a look around, just no pictures," said a fellow who stepped outside. Another fellow, more senior, showed up some minutes later as I was perusing the photo gallery. After we exchanged pleasantries (but not names), he told me that I could stop in any evening and sit at the bar for a drink. "But you won't eat," he added, in a just-so-you-know manner of speaking.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  If you are feeling down and need a good laugh call the restaurant for a reservation. The recording you will get is hilarious.
                  I hear there is a Rao's in Las Vegas.

                2. Not to be snide, but if you are posting that question on this board, you can't.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nmprisons

                    You can get into the Rao's in Vegas.

                  2. Funny, the country is in a Depression, and business owners just sail along as if they're bigger than the economy. Good luck RAO with your attitude.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: RedTop

                      Funny how this country is in a Depression, and restaurants like Rao's can STILL be full every night without letting in strangers.

                      I'm sure when Rao's stops being filled up using its current policy, it will reconsider.

                      1. re: RedTop

                        I don't think Rao's or any of the city's other restaurants with exclusive reservation policies are exactly suffering. (Rao's has been around since 1896, by the way.)

                        1. re: loratliff

                          The Monkey Bar quickly changed its exclusive reservation policy, i.e., private phone number to book a table, when the regulars, who didn't cotton to the very mediocre food being served, stopped coming. But even going on OpenTable didn't help, so now, Grayden Carter has brought in a whole new team to try to turn things around.

                          I've never understood the fascination with Rao's. From what I've heard, the food is nothing to write home about.


                          Monkey Bar
                          60 E 54th St, New York, NY 10022

                      2. Although I read the book a long time ago and don't remember all the details, I believe Steven Shaw, in his book Turning the Tables, wrote that he ate at Rao's by first drinking at the bar. Not 100% certain about that.

                        1. Show up with a supermodel and hang out at the bar or with an old mafioso, just make sure that he is from the right "family". ;-)

                          1. For kicks, here's the photo I took of Rao's shortly before I was invited inside for a look-see. It has no evidentiary relationship with the restaurant's seating policy, only with its location on the corner of a one-way street.


                            1 Reply
                            1. I was there once, trick is having a connection to someone who has a table... I was 2 degrees from the table holder but my friend got his friends rez...

                              It is good red sauce Italian. The crowd is, well, connected in one way or another

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: dyrewolf

                                The dishes served at Rao's are more Italian-American than anything that you would find in Italy. Having said that, they do a very respectable Pasta e Ceci, Penne with Tomato and Eggplant sauce, (Salas di Pomodoro e Melanzane) and the Lemon Chicken. We have been there as guests of a regular "table holder", several times, and always have had a very good, and hearty dinner.

                                455 E 114th St, New York, NY 10029

                                  1. re: princeofpork

                                    As I recall, prices are high but not excessively, for NYC. Antipasti dishes are up to $22.00 pastas $20.00-30.00 meat/seafood courses can be as high as $35.00--45.00, though we were guests of the "table holder" each time we have dined there, Pricing is what I would expect to pay.

                              2. Hey El Chevere...call spur of the moment on a very bad weather night (sleet, freezing raIn)...or go to the bar and plan on just a drink followed by Patsys or PuertomRican food nearby

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Simon

                                  Someone mentioned a charity event. Well, beware. Friends invited us to join them for a dinner they "won" at an event, so we said sure. Turned out what they'd bought was the privilege to actually eat here at someone's regular table. The cost of dinner (and it as high) was extra.

                                  1. re: niia

                                    COmpletely agree. When Raos is offered as a prize or a charity event it is always just fo the table/reservation. I have never seen it include the cost of the meal.

                                    1. re: princeofpork

                                      Not always true - I won dinner there at a school auction last year. One of the regulars donated their table for a night. It also included food. And that was made clear at the auction. We stuffed ourselves with a multi-course meal and lots of drinks and didn't pay a penny extra. That may not always be the case but it was in mine. The food, by the way, is quite good. Not the best Italian you'll ever have but really very good old-school red sauce Italian. But you're not going for the food, you're going for the experience.