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Rao's in East Harlem, the original G

kevin Jan 24, 2014 03:22 PM

Does anyone happen to have a hookup to get me in here ?

I will be in NYC in March.

Thanks a bunch.

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  1. f
    foodiemom10583 RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 03:59 PM

    Kevin, you're a funny guy.

    Good luck.

    1. grampart RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 04:04 PM

      Just show up. A classy guy like you should have no trouble talking your way in.

      5 Replies
      1. re: grampart
        Veggo RE: grampart Jan 24, 2014 04:08 PM

        I dunno, most Kevin's are Irish, and their last name doesn't end with a vowel...:)

        1. re: Veggo
          kevin RE: Veggo Jan 24, 2014 04:09 PM

          Yeah, I'm not a classy guy and I'm not Italian, so sadly I guess I won't be able to grab a perch there.

          Veggo, I'm presuming you've been many times before ????

          1. re: kevin
            Veggo RE: kevin Jan 25, 2014 05:10 AM

            Only in my dreams, when my name is Vito.

            1. re: kevin
              James Cristinian RE: kevin Jan 26, 2014 10:06 AM

              Go in and drop a lot of f bombs like you occasionally do. I'm sure they'll effing let you in.

              1. re: James Cristinian
                kevin RE: James Cristinian Jan 26, 2014 10:28 AM

                Sounds pretty fucking good. :)

        2. Motosport RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 04:12 PM

          Just call for a reservation. Highly entertaining.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Motosport
            kevin RE: Motosport Jan 24, 2014 04:13 PM

            Ok, but calling won't get me anywhere, right ????

            1. re: kevin
              Motosport RE: kevin Jan 25, 2014 10:32 AM

              Did you call??

          2. shaogo RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 05:20 PM

            They open at about 4:30 and just about anyone can get a drink at the bar. But not a table.

            There's a reason co-owner Frank Pellegrino's nick-name is "Frankie No."

            And this thread's in the wrong category. Rao's is indeed on the island of Manhattan.

            1. c oliver RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 06:36 PM

              Here's a fun read...and you ain't goin' :)


              8 Replies
              1. re: c oliver
                tpigeon RE: c oliver Jan 24, 2014 08:55 PM

                That is funny. What is really funny is the one time I went, I saw Rusty Staub there.

                1. re: c oliver
                  Bob Martinez RE: c oliver Jan 25, 2014 08:24 AM

                  Here's another good read.


                  1. re: Bob Martinez
                    c oliver RE: Bob Martinez Jan 25, 2014 08:33 AM

                    It IS a good read. And, as I suspected, it has really NOTHING to do with the food. It's an event. A happening. And from what I've read, it sounds like, nowadays anyway, the majority of the diners aren't even Italian :)

                    1. re: c oliver
                      kevin RE: c oliver Jan 25, 2014 08:36 AM

                      Please do let me know if you do garner a table. Dinners on me if I can join up in time.

                      And that ain't no joke.

                      1. re: kevin
                        c oliver RE: kevin Jan 25, 2014 08:43 AM

                        Ya know, when we're in NYC, we're so focused on GOOD food that it's unlikely we'd even try to go. But a drink at the bar is always possible.

                      2. re: c oliver
                        coll RE: c oliver Jan 25, 2014 08:46 AM

                        The food is fine, and you always get a good story out of it, which is priceless.

                        1. re: coll
                          c oliver RE: coll Jan 25, 2014 09:03 AM

                          As the saying goes, to each his own. Our visits to NYC don't happen nearly often enough so, when there, we want better than "fine."

                          1. re: c oliver
                            coll RE: c oliver Jan 25, 2014 09:23 AM

                            So, then, we'll agree: To each his own. I like a full experience and luckily I can afford to take some chances. Tomorrow's another day, either way.

                  2. f
                    foodwhisperer RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 07:47 PM

                    Tell them Frankie Pellegrino sent you.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                      c oliver RE: foodwhisperer Jan 24, 2014 07:50 PM

                      And they'll tell you that his name is "Frankie No" :)

                      1. re: c oliver
                        kevin RE: c oliver Jan 24, 2014 08:06 PM

                        Oliver, have you been before ?????

                        1. re: kevin
                          c oliver RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 08:08 PM

                          Oh, heavens, no!!!! I think I'm an EXTREMELY persuasive person but they're above my pay grade :)

                          1. re: c oliver
                            kevin RE: c oliver Jan 24, 2014 08:18 PM

                            If you get in, please post in copious detail how you gained entry. :)

                            1. re: kevin
                              c oliver RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 08:25 PM

                              I DO like Harlem so if I venture over there I might try. But I'm not that charming :)

                              1. re: c oliver
                                kevin RE: c oliver Jan 24, 2014 08:42 PM

                                I thought you mentioned you are an extremely persuasive person. If you are, then you don't even really have to
                                Be charming.

                                Sadly, I'm neither and hence the post which you guys prolly get about once or twice a day on this board.

                                1. re: kevin
                                  c oliver RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 08:44 PM

                                  From what I've read no amount of charm or persuasion will work. If I'm in the nabe I may try just for the fun of it.

                                  1. re: c oliver
                                    kevin RE: c oliver Jan 24, 2014 08:46 PM

                                    And if you don't get in there's always the Red Rooster or Chalres' Southern style kitchen.

                                    1. re: kevin
                                      c oliver RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 08:49 PM

                                      We love Amy Ruth's in 'real' Harlem.


                                      1. re: c oliver
                                        kevin RE: c oliver Jan 24, 2014 08:51 PM

                                        Oh yes. I haven't tried that just yet.

                                        1. re: kevin
                                          Ttrockwood RE: kevin Jan 25, 2014 01:28 PM

                                          Amy ruth's is absolutely worth the trip! Just be sure to go hungry....

                              2. re: kevin
                                foodwhisperer RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 08:29 PM

                                I've been there a few times. I only got in because my friend has a" table" on Thursdays. The food is good, not gourmet, the roasted peppers are delicious. The atmosphere is exactly how you would imagine it. Sometimes people auction off their table for charity. They get around $5000 just for the seats, no food.

                      2. a
                        Ann900 RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 08:37 PM

                        How to eat at Rao's:
                        1. Buy a Jar of Rao's pasta sauce (available at many, many food stores).
                        2. Pour over cooked pasta.
                        3. Eat.
                        4. As you eat, suddenly become aware that the sauce doesn't taste all that special or better than many other sauces on the market and is over-priced for what it is.
                        5. There- now you've had the exact same experience you'd have if you ate at the restaurant.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Ann900
                          tpigeon RE: Ann900 Jan 24, 2014 08:51 PM

                          That is just not true. Rao's has a unique ambiance. The best I can describe it is like it is Christmas every day there. You should go once if you have the opportunity.

                          1. re: tpigeon
                            kevin RE: tpigeon Jan 24, 2014 08:52 PM

                            Pigeon, how'd you gain entry ????

                            1. re: kevin
                              tpigeon RE: kevin Jan 24, 2014 09:01 PM

                              I will be absolutely no help here...

                              An old friend of mine won a bid for a charity event back when the bidding was not so high and you got a free meal for 4 people with the winning bid, which apparently is not the case anymore. The food was not amazing, but the experience was. I am generally an all about the food guy, but this is one of the rare restaurants I would go back just for the experience.

                              I think foodwhisperer did a good job describing the food...

                          2. re: Ann900
                            foodwhisperer RE: Ann900 Jan 24, 2014 09:27 PM

                            The sauce in the jar, is not like the sauce at Rao's. It was supervised to get the sauces in the jar tasty, but it is made by Victoria Packing, who makes many brands including there own. Actually the Victoria Brand tastes better than Rao's brand. Another thing is, the contadina ( chicken , sausage potatoes is the best dish there. Simple, no sauce.

                          3. Gio RE: kevin Jan 25, 2014 05:31 AM

                            Buy the cookbook:

                            Rao's Recipes from the Neighborhood: Frank Pellegrino Cooks Italian with Family and Friends
                            by Frank Pellegrino


                            Buy it used, it's cheaper.

                            1. shaogo RE: kevin Jan 25, 2014 06:36 PM

                              We dined about once a month, with my boss's boss, at Rao's, from about 1978 until 1982. Vinnie and Ann Rao were still alive and working. The dishes were delicious but it was also a lot about great, hand-picked ingredients. And just when you thought you couldn't have another bite, they'd bring out a beautiful platter of chilled, perfectly ripe fruit -- which they said Ann Rao selected herself each day at the greengrocer. Back then it wasn't the big celebrity magnet it is now, but we got an eyeful of some of New York's most note-worthy and also most notorious. The guy I used to go with passed on in about '85.

                              Speed up to about 2001 or so. I went in on a Tuesday or Thursday night and sat at the bar and had a drink. Frank Pellegrino was there and I got his attention by talking about a business idea he'd pitched to my boss and others at our table, so many years ago. Even the fact that he remembered me, my bosses, *and* the business idea, the way the conversation went it became very clear to me that if I asked him for a seat for dinner, the answer would nevertheless be "no."

                              Another small detail that *may* make the original poster feel a bit better, the Rao's you pass when you visit the corner of 114th and Pleasant Avenue *looks* like it's been there over a hundred years, but it's actually a very clever, expensive re-creation. The place burned completely in the summer of '95.

                              The Vegas incarnation is nothing like the original. Decent food and a great, energetic vibe -- but nothing like the original.

                              I'd hazard a guess that the best advice I could give Kevin is that he needs to get in touch with someone who could perhaps advance Mr. Pellegrino's acting career. It's my understanding that lots of people ate there who didn't "own" a table during his gig with HBO's "The Sopranos."

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: shaogo
                                chowdom RE: shaogo Jan 28, 2014 07:02 PM

                                That is so true, I have a friend an actor from a popular tv detective series no longer airing who never has a problem getting a table when he is in NY.

                                1. re: chowdom
                                  c oliver RE: chowdom Jan 28, 2014 07:04 PM

                                  And I'm betting he's neither Italian nor a part of "the mob."

                                  1. re: c oliver
                                    kevin RE: c oliver Jan 28, 2014 07:05 PM

                                    So acting it is.

                                    Perhaps the time has come to pursue acting.

                                    1. re: c oliver
                                      chowdom RE: c oliver Jan 30, 2014 08:13 PM

                                      He is in fact Italian...

                                      1. re: chowdom
                                        c oliver RE: chowdom Jan 30, 2014 08:19 PM

                                        Cool! Do you think he gets a table cause he's Italian or cause he's a celeb?

                                        1. re: c oliver
                                          coll RE: c oliver Jan 31, 2014 07:38 AM

                                          He gets a table because he "knows somebody". That's how it goes usually.

                                          1. re: coll
                                            c oliver RE: coll Jan 31, 2014 07:51 AM

                                            And he may KNOW somebody cause he is/was a celeb.

                                            1. re: c oliver
                                              coll RE: c oliver Jan 31, 2014 08:45 AM

                                              Or a thousand other reasons.

                                              1. re: coll
                                                c oliver RE: coll Jan 31, 2014 08:46 AM

                                                Or at least two :)

                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                  coll RE: c oliver Jan 31, 2014 08:50 AM

                                                  Could have put in the sound system. Could be the food purveyor salesman, or the owner of that company. Could be the liquor salesman, or the garbage company owner. Could be someone doing a small favor and it's a payback. Could know somebody who can ask a favor for you. The possibilities are endless. You don't have to be famous! Or Italian.

                                2. s
                                  Stuartmc910 RE: kevin Jan 26, 2014 04:23 PM

                                  According to the NYt it isn't worth it. Open a few cans of chef boy at dee and enjoy yourself.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Stuartmc910
                                    foodwhisperer RE: Stuartmc910 Jan 26, 2014 07:44 PM

                                    Oh please! Rao's is good home style Italian/American food. It is better than most restaurants, although not gourmet by any means. But to even think of it on a Chef BoyarDee level , sheesh. BTW i had a can of Chef Boyar Dee meat ravioli a few weeks ago.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                                      Stuartmc910 RE: foodwhisperer Jan 27, 2014 09:23 AM

                                      That's joke FW, a joke.

                                      1. re: Stuartmc910
                                        foodwhisperer RE: Stuartmc910 Jan 29, 2014 09:16 PM

                                        I have no sense of humor. I'm grumpy when it's cold outside

                                  2. f
                                    foodiemom10583 RE: kevin Jan 28, 2014 07:35 PM

                                    Why don't you try the Rao's in L.A.? The experience would be an interesting conversation-starter for you and Frank.


                                    1. k
                                      kevin RE: kevin Jan 28, 2014 07:40 PM

                                      Also,, does anyone happen to have a link to Mimi sheraton's original review of Rao's from 1977 ?????


                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: kevin
                                        squid kun RE: kevin Jan 29, 2014 02:03 PM


                                        1. re: squid kun
                                          kevin RE: squid kun Jan 29, 2014 02:07 PM

                                          Damn. It costs money to access the article ?

                                          Anyone have a free link or a code ?

                                          Thanks again.

                                          1. re: kevin
                                            coll RE: kevin Jan 29, 2014 03:43 PM

                                            You must have looked at the Times 10 times already this month, that's your limit for free stories. Wait til Saturday and google it then.

                                            1. re: coll
                                              kevin RE: coll Jan 29, 2014 04:00 PM

                                              Ok. Thanks.

                                              1. re: kevin
                                                Monica RE: kevin Jan 29, 2014 06:42 PM

                                                If acting fails , try comedy. I think you may have a true talent.

                                                1. re: Monica
                                                  kevin RE: Monica Jan 29, 2014 10:03 PM

                                                  Ok. Will definitively do.

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