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Rao's comes to Hollywood

Veggo Sep 17, 2013 08:04 AM

Rao's, the legendary 117 year old Spanish Harlem institution serving great Italian, and said to be the most difficult reservation to get in America, has opened in Hollywood. 323-962-7267 for reservations. Good luck. Try the meatballs.

  1. m
    maudies5 Sep 17, 2013 08:08 AM

    Or buy the great Raos cookbook and make the meatballs.

    1. t
      thimes Sep 17, 2013 08:12 AM

      Their Harlem location is legendary.

      I ate at their location in Vegas (friends made the reservations) and it was horrible. One of the worst italian meals I've had in a really long time. I hope their Hollywood location is better . . .

      1 Reply
      1. re: thimes
        kevin Sep 17, 2013 01:17 PM

        If I were a gambler, I would bet that the Hollywood location will be subpar too.

      2. k
        kevin Sep 17, 2013 01:18 PM

        I don't think the reservation will be difficult at all.

        It's only the original East Harlem location that is beyond difficult to get into where the regulars essentially own their seats year in and year out.

        17 Replies
        1. re: kevin
          wienermobile Sep 17, 2013 01:58 PM

          New York's Rao's has only 10 seats, Hollywood will offer 95 seats and both indoor and outdoor dining.

          1. re: wienermobile
            Veggo Sep 17, 2013 02:22 PM

            Not 10 seats, 10 tables. They are booked through the rest of 2013, call Harlem in November for 2014 reservations.

            1. re: Veggo
              ipsedixit Sep 17, 2013 07:39 PM

              There are really no such things as "reservations" at Rao's Harlem (at least not in the traditional sense).

              1. re: ipsedixit
                maudies5 Sep 17, 2013 07:57 PM

                True. A friend of mine who was a famous journalist (R.I.P.) loved that he could eat at Rao's. He got another famous journalist's table when he was in NYC. I know one other person who managed to dine at Rao's in NYC. Suffice it to say he "knew a friend who knew a friend."
                Don't knock yourselves out looking for WeHo reservations & expecting a slice of NYC. What makes Rao's is it's history (for better or worse). I suspect you are likely to find an adequate Italian restaurant of the "old stye.". I posted earlier about the cookbook. It is really excellent. The meatballs, bolognese, lemon chicken are all stellar. BTW, Rao's Marinara sauce is availabile at Bed and Bath for about $2.00 less than supermarket prices.

                1. re: maudies5
                  ns1 Sep 17, 2013 07:58 PM

                  Which rao's cookbook? There are several.

                  1. re: ns1
                    maudies5 Sep 17, 2013 08:12 PM

                    Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking
                    I am pretty sure this was the first one. I so mangled my first Rao;s cookbook, that I had to buy another. It is really that good. Nothing frou frou about that food. I have tried most of the recipes and they are all damn good.

                    1. re: maudies5
                      ns1 Sep 17, 2013 08:12 PM

                      thanks; added to wishlist.

                      1. re: ns1
                        James Cristinian Sep 17, 2013 10:40 PM

                        They've got a few recipes on their website, meatballs and marinara are a couple.


                        1. re: James Cristinian
                          maudies5 Sep 18, 2013 04:37 PM

                          Just took a look at their online recipes. It appears that it is designed to sell their retail products, e.g. Lemon Chicken calls for their bottled lemon dressing and the roasted peppers antipasto calls for their jarred roast peppers. Please do not make these recipes. Get the cookbook and make your own lemon chicken using fresh lemons. The one recipe which remains authentic on website is Meatballs.

                          1. re: maudies5
                            James Cristinian Sep 18, 2013 08:05 PM

                            I certainly wouldn't use their products in these recipes either, but for instance the meatballs call for Rao's olive oil as does the marinara plus Rao's Italian tomatoes. These are easily subbed with things most people have in their pantry, roast peppers and lemon dressing as well. I use these recipes as a guide only.

                            1. re: James Cristinian
                              Dirtywextraolives Sep 19, 2013 12:31 PM

                              It's a very common marketing ploy to write the recipes of their popular dishes with the ingredients listed as their own products. It's called cross - selling.

                              I wouldn't bother to buy any of their products...... Homemade marinara is always better tasting than anything jarred, IMO.

                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                James Cristinian Sep 19, 2013 01:37 PM

                                The only reason I got involved in all this is because it's finally cooled off enough where I can use my stove top for meatballs and marinara. I looked at Rao's meatballs but have decided to go with the Bobby Flay recipe I've had success with, only I cut out the veal and go 50/50 pork beef. I tried it with veal, but the wifeacita and I prefer it without.


                                Yes, it's a Food Network recipe, but delicious.

                                1. re: James Cristinian
                                  Dirtywextraolives Sep 19, 2013 02:55 PM

                                  I mainly use all pork & beef too, as veal, as much asi love it, tends to make them a bit soft, and we all love the flavor the pork adds. I save my ground veal for meatloaf ;)

                    2. re: ns1
                      maudies5 Sep 17, 2013 08:16 PM

                      Don't bother with the Rao's sequels. Get the original with the original recipes.

                    3. re: maudies5
                      ipsedixit Sep 17, 2013 08:11 PM


                      Rao's (Harlem) is like a public restaurant cum private diner's club.

              2. re: kevin
                Dirtywextraolives Sep 19, 2013 06:42 PM

                I agree, kevin.... And once the hype has died down, I think out of us will agree,it's not gonna be as good as the authentic east coast Italian, no matter whose name is behind it. It will just never be the same here on the left coast, so lets get over it already.....

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                  maudies5 Sep 19, 2013 09:19 PM

                  For those old enough to remember, Rao's is Villa Capri redux.
                  IMHO, those who really love good Italian food in that neighborhood will still eat at close by Osteria Mozza or Angelini. Not venturing east to Rao's for that "cuisine." I will say that this thread has motivated me to make that lemon chicken this weekend, So good and so easy with FRESH lemons.

              3. JeMange Sep 17, 2013 10:14 PM

                As someone who was lucky enough to eat at the NYC Rao's a handful of times, I've gotta say that it is excellent but no better than what you'd get at Sunday dinner at my nana's house - she was born and raised on Mulberry St. in what used to be Little Italy , Manhattan - or from any other Italian American grandma with a knack in the kitchen.

                The recipes are old school Italian American and their Sunday Gravy - the recipe is in the first cookbook, I believe - is something you can easily recreate at home given the time, effort and access to ingredients.

                Now, finding the crusty coal oven baked Italian round loaves to go along with the gravy is a different story entirely. Still haven't found anything even close anywhere in SoCal.

                1. m
                  maudies5 Sep 18, 2013 03:10 PM

                  Apparently, the back patio is considered to be "Siberia."This, according to folks who were there on opening night. Source: eater LA quoting THR.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: maudies5
                    ns1 Sep 18, 2013 04:01 PM

                    The actual quote:

                    "By 8 p.m. on opening night the place was packed, except for the rear patio, which was treated as Siberia."


                    For the person who hated Rao's LV...

                    "It no doubt helps that Nicole Grimes, the executive chef, transferred from the well-oiled third Rao's location, at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas"

                    1. re: ns1
                      thimes Sep 18, 2013 04:22 PM

                      Well hopefully she had left when I ate there this past Memorial Day. If not I hope the glow of Harlem keeps them running.

                  2. wienermobile Sep 18, 2013 03:19 PM

                    Does anyone know Rao's LA's menu prices?

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: wienermobile
                      Servorg Sep 18, 2013 03:35 PM

                      No but you can figure "Capoesque" pricing will be in effect. And they are going to be closed Saturday and Sunday.

                      1. re: Servorg
                        maudies5 Sep 18, 2013 03:41 PM

                        Perhaps the prices will be similar to the Rao's Las Vegas

                        1. re: maudies5
                          Wayno Sep 18, 2013 03:42 PM

                          Holy smokes! Thatsa some pricey meataball.

                          1. re: maudies5
                            Veggo Sep 18, 2013 03:52 PM

                            Sexy menu. I want to make the salad with roasted red peppers, pine nuts, golden raisins, and OO.

                            1. re: Veggo
                              maudies5 Sep 18, 2013 04:06 PM

                              That salad is in the first cookbook and is really delicious. Beautiful peppers today at Santa Monica Farmers Market. That is an easy dish to make, particularly when you find great peppers

                              1. re: maudies5
                                kevin Sep 18, 2013 04:47 PM

                                Maudie. If you can hook up dinner in Harlem, it's my treat. :)

                          2. re: Servorg
                            kevin Sep 18, 2013 04:46 PM

                            What's Capi-esque pricing ????

                            1. re: kevin
                              maudies5 Sep 18, 2013 04:51 PM

                              I believe the reference was to the high prices at Capo in SantaMonica

                        2. Veggo Sep 19, 2013 09:31 AM

                          Their phone is a perpetual busy signal. At least the Harlem number gives a message to call back in November.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo
                            Ciao Bob Sep 19, 2013 10:39 AM

                            November? What year?

                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                              Servorg Sep 19, 2013 10:44 AM

                              "What year?"

                              Evidently it doesn't matter...

                              1. re: Servorg
                                maudies5 Sep 19, 2013 11:05 AM

                                Exactly right!

                                1. re: Servorg
                                  kevin Sep 19, 2013 11:55 AM

                                  after the apocalypse.

                                  1. re: kevin
                                    Servorg Sep 19, 2013 11:58 AM

                                    The first sign of the apocalypse is ACTUALLY getting a reservation (or maybe having the phone ring at the LA location).

                                    1. re: Servorg
                                      Veggo Sep 19, 2013 03:01 PM

                                      At this moment, the phone is still busy.

                                      1. re: Veggo
                                        Servorg Sep 19, 2013 03:13 PM


                                        1. re: Servorg
                                          Veggo Sep 19, 2013 03:32 PM

                                          I just spoke with Angie at the new Hollywood restaurant. They are booked for a few weeks out, the lemon chicken is $26 and the meatballs are $16.

                                          1. re: Veggo
                                            Servorg Sep 19, 2013 03:34 PM

                                            They can always consult with Pizzeria Mozza if they need some advice on how to keep the mob in a frenzied state of reservation pandemonium...

                            2. j
                              js76wisco Sep 20, 2013 10:00 AM

                              My friend at work was trying to make reservations to take clients out. He was told that every single 7pm and 7:30pm reservations for any number of people is completely booked for the rest of 2013. It might not be as hard getting a reservation as the original but they're obviously doing pretty well even with the much bigger space. Their reputation precedes them.

                              1. n
                                ns1 Sep 26, 2013 05:32 PM

                                Eater brings pics:


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ns1
                                  kevin Sep 26, 2013 08:25 PM


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