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“I'm now on the "A list."”
Review of Rao's Restaurant

Rao's Restaurant
Ranked #2,205 of 14,125 Restaurants in New York City
Price range: $41 - $80
Cuisines: American, Italian
Good for: Special occasions
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions
Reviewed February 1, 2013

I've heard the stories of not being able to get a table at Rao's. When you call their telephone number, the message states that all reservations for the year are taken........I've heard that message for 2011, 2012, and 2013. I decided it was time for me to experience Rao's, if only at the bar.

My best friend and I dressed up for our visit to Rao's. We settled in at the bar. Around 30 minutes laters we were asked if we wanted to have dinner. Yup, they asked if we wanted to eat........We were seated at the table for two in the front of the restaurant.

The food was delicious. We started with Mozzarella in Carroza, divine. crispy bread with melted mozzarella in tasty tomato sauce. If only I could have licked the plate.

Next up was the spagetti with white clam sauce...........the sauce lingered on the pasta. With every bite, my tongue was caressed by the garlic, olive oil and fresh clams. I loved that the sauce stayed on the pasta.

The Famous Rao's meatballs arrived at the table and they tasted unlike any meatball you've eaten. I've googled the recipe to find out what unusual ingredient they use. But, sadly, it is just their mastery of average ingredients......meat, bread crumbs, cheese, etc....

The Lemon Chicken is their signature dish...........the contrast of the tart lemon sauce and the crunchy broiled skin of the chicken. I am salivating thinking of the magic of the tastes......

Frankie and Ronnie, the owners/managers - my new best friends, surprised me with a candle on a cheese cake. Then the entire restaurant joined in for a chorus of Happy Birthday. They overheard me saying that it was my birthday................

Remember, I walked in off the street, no reservation, no connection, no Public Relations Advance team!

Like Shangri-la in Lost Horizon, I want to find my way back.

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18  Thank ParkAveSnob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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49 - 53 of 68 reviews

Reviewed January 16, 2013

Rao's is a well known institution in NYC. You have to know a "regular" to get here to dine, and when you do, you'll enjoy people-watching all night long. From Senators to A-list actors/actresses, to rock stars, they all come here to dine. The first time I came here to eat, the food was so-so; nothing memorable; the next time I came here I was pleased to have a 'GREAT ITALIAN MEAL!" So this is a place where, if you let them order the meal for you, platter after platter of pastas and meatballs and various side dishes will please you---be sure everything is served hot. They are well known for their sauces too. The place is packed so if it's a private conversation you want to have, careful, there is always someone within hearing distance....and alot of biz is discussed here! p.s.:one of the safest areas in NYC!

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1  Thank acbas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2012

Unfortunately people want to go to Rao's because it is so hard to get in unless you are invited or pay a hefty price for a reservation at an auction... So we were invited and had a fun night (because it was a fun group), but I felt like I was at a cheesy restaurant in Disney. The food is not the best - Elio's and Nicola's on the UES are so much better! Now you know.

9  Thank Tiffkap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 11, 2012

My husband and I were invited here by another couple who scored a table and boy was this a treat. Having been to the one in Vegas each and every year we go, we were excited to actually dine here. The place is packed with ppl who don't even have a table, hanging by the bar, and this was 10pm!! The food is what an Italian grandmother would make but 100 times better!! Gotta love it here.. No menu.. This is what we have... We wanted it all! Words cannot describe the authenticity, the bold flavors and the sheer yumminess of the food here.... Meatballs were way better than the ones in Vegas (and those are really good!), veal cutlet with the salad on top melted in our mouths, seafood salad was like nothing I've ever tasted, and the cheesecake I will remember the rest of my life. It was a great dining experience and I'm humbled to have gotten the chance to experience this iconic restaurant!!

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1  Thank froggy618
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

3  Thank reginalampert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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