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“Rao's LAS VEGAS--no normal person can get into the one in NY”
3 of 5 bubbles Review of Rao's Restaurant

Rao's Restaurant
Ranked #2,074 of 13,559 Restaurants in New York City
Price range: $41 - $80
Cuisines: Italian, American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
stamford, ct
Level Contributor
378 reviews
257 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 175 helpful votes
“Rao's LAS VEGAS--no normal person can get into the one in NY”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 26, 2012

fter living in the NY area for many years and being told that only glitteratti get in to Rao's (unless it is a Bobby Flay Throwdown--oh wait, that took place in Vegas too) we finally succumbed when we were in Las Vegas, this Spring. The place is huge, and seemed to be made for "high roller types" or big fat old men who eat a lot. We had 9:30 reservations, after a show, and didn't eat a crumb until after 10:30. By the, I was very disappointed, and was more tired than hungry, but I somehow feel that their reputation (aside from the marinara sauce in a jar that we don't live without) far exceeds their culinary capabilities. Highly, highly overrated. Don't go--if you are in Caesar's. go to Brad Ogden's restaurant instead.

Visited April 2012
3 Thank reginalampert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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64 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Westchester, NY
Level Contributor
27 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“A unique experience”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 27, 2012

We were invited to join a "member" for dinner and it was a unique experience to say the least. It really feels like you are entering a private club where most of the diners are regulars and well known by the staff. We were made to feel very welcomed, however, by the genuinely friendly and attentive staff. I have never had their commercial tomato sauce so didn't know what to expect. We ordered family style and tried the spicy sauce with a couple meatballs for the table. Both very good. The seafood salad was excellent- very tender and nicely dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. The chicken and sausage combination was very tasty and cooked just right. The prices were very reasonable for NYC with the markup on the wine only 100 % over retail. it was a fun evening for the unique experience described in other reviews.

  • Visited April 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank CJV_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Authentically Uncommon”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 14, 2012

My 'meatballs and gravy dish was fabulous. Although there are arguably better restaurants in NYC and elsewhere when it comes to just the food, the authentic 'wise-guy' feel of the place and the difficulty getting a table makes this place, in my opinion, the best Italian restaurant in the city.

  • Visited February 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank RSBNY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Hollywood in Harlem”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 19, 2011

Some friends invited us for dinner at Rao’s. I confess that not knowing the restaurant or that it was the hardest reservation to get in New York, we at first declined only to change our minds upon learning of its exclusiveness.

We were seated in a booth in a relatively small restaurant with a bar and 11 tables: three tables to the center of the room and the remainder booths along the walls. The walls are literally covered with signed celebrity photographs. The floor is wide planked wood. The ceiling is tin. The tables are covered with white tablecloths. The ambiance was the epitome of the New York neighborhood Italian restaurant. The waiter, maître de, and host/owner all wore sports jackets without ties with the maître de, and host sporting handkerchiefs in their coat pockets. All three spoke with a faint “fugetaboutit” accent. The waiter pulls a chair up to your table and tells you what is to eat talking about “gravy”, pasta, and veal. You ask for a wine list and are told the waiter is the wine list: “what do you want.” Prices are not discussed unless you ask. Disney could not have better captured a scene from "Goodfellas" or the "Sopranos".

However, once you get past the shtick you get to the food. I have spent so much of this review dwelling on the atmosphere because that is what Rao’s excels at. The food while good was not excellent, and no better than what you get in many local “red sauce” Italian restaurants not just in New York, but also in small towns throughout the United States. And, do not expect espresso or cappuccino at the end of the meal. They do not have an espresso machine!

The price, for New York, was reasonable. The wines appear to be marked up three times retail.

In summary, go for the experience, but not the food.

  • Visited October 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
3 Thank TravelingFleet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
11 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“You have to try it once”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 24, 2011

I hate saying I was "lucky" to be allowed into an establishment where one ends up paying the prices asked for the services rendered, but recognizing the reality of things I will concede that it was a stroke of luck that I was able to eat here. It's not about the food, clearly -- the food is mediocre -- but when you take it in context, the gumpadres (fake and real) in the place, the overthetop, fuggedaboutit and campy atmosphere, the smugness from saying to yourself "I actually am here and got past "Frankie No!" you are happy. So forget that the pasta in some cases is about as good as the slop at one of the Ray's Famous, pretend you're in "Goodfellas" (or "Mickey Blue Eyes") and savor it. You're probably not coming back.

  • Visited May 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
9 Thank Morningstar10065
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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