Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Rao's


awbrig
 Share

Recommended Posts

We went there several times when our son was at school in NYC and when Anne was still alive and cooking. I simply sat on redial until connected, and begged and snivveled for a reservation, telling Frankie that we would only be in town for x number of evenings, were desparate to eat there, etc, etc.. Because our name, Pilgrim, is the same as Frankie's in Italian (Pelegrino) we established a joke about it. He would concede that he had to find room for his San Francisco relatives. You probably do have to demand to talk to Frankie.

How was it? Funky. A time warp. God-awful decor. Amazing clientele. Memorable. Frankie's routine from which he didn't waiver: he pulls up a chair and sits on it backwards and says, "What's good? It's all good. So what do ya like to eat?" Then he coaches you through an order. "No, you're all gonna have the same pasta. We're not making 3 pastas for one table. You're gonna order two antipasti for the table, one pasta for the three of you, and then each of you can order a main course." The Strega bottle was left on the table with coffee.

The food was quite decent Italian-American. Service was slow as determined by the kitchen. The table was ours until closing. :cool:

eGullet member #80.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Been there three times in the last two years. A friend is Frank P's.(owner) first cousin. All three times I got former Senator D'Amato's table. However after the second visit, I was told I could go on the waiting list for the next opening for a regular table. I never followed through.

The food is good, nothing spectacular. The place is the thing. Most of the recipes come from Frank's aunt's kitchen. It does seem they have been commercialized a bit over the years.

The bar is pleasant and someof the stories you hear are "funny." But the best attraction is Louie, the "parking valet." When you walk in, he's sitting on a stool outside the place and says in a very grizzled voice, "I'll watch your car," (even if it's not in sight). When you leave he says "I watched your car." Naturally you tip him for this service, even though it's the safest block in the city. On warmer nights, you can get your car washed by some local businessmen for a nominal fee.

All in all, an interesting experience, but not for the food.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Frankie came to the cooking school at the store where I work, and taught a class. I got to work with him. He made huge, delicious meatballs. He told a lot of stories. He drank some wine and sang a Sinatra song to the customers in class. Afterwards, he signed cookbooks. When he asked me where my book was so that he could sign it, I told him I couldn't afford it ( it was $40.) He pulled out a big wad of 20's and paid for my book. Then he signed it.

He's a really nice guy....and the food was good, too. Specially the meatballs....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

Never made it to the restaurant. But I've cooked a number of recipes from the cookbook - they have all turned out really nice. When I visit my mother she requests a really simple sausage in red sauce over pappardelle dish that I got from The RAO's cookbook.

johnjohn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

does it count if a friend of mine went? probably not. but, she said that it certainly wasn't "all that". i stopped trying to figure out a way to get in about 4 years ago. i'd just buy the jarred crappy sauce they make if i wanted the pasta, or follow the simple recipes from the book if i wanted that chicken dish of theirs. as far as rubbing elbows with celebs, i'd rather do that at a RHCP show.

edit: me and awbrig, 2 peas in a pod. :unsure:

Edited by tommy (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

does it count if a friend of mine went?  probably not.  but, she said that it certainly wasn't "all that".  i stopped trying to figure out a way to get in about 4 years ago.  i'd just buy the jarred crappy sauce they make if i wanted the pasta, or follow the simple recipes from the book if i wanted that chicken dish of theirs.  as far as rubbing elbows with celebs, i'd rather do that at a RHCP show.

edit:  me and awbrig, 2 peas in a pod.  :unsure:

I hear the food's solid, the warm family feeling unlike most....You don't to Rao's for a culinary extravaganza....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

does it count if a friend of mine went?  probably not.  but, she said that it certainly wasn't "all that".   i stopped trying to figure out a way to get in about 4 years ago.  i'd just buy the jarred crappy sauce they make if i wanted the pasta, or follow the simple recipes from the book if i wanted that chicken dish of theirs.  as far as rubbing elbows with celebs, i'd rather do that at a RHCP show.

edit:  me and awbrig, 2 peas in a pod.  :unsure:

I hear the food's solid, the warm family feeling unlike most....You don't to Rao's for a culinary extravaganza....

the food was mediocre, and the atmosphere is what it is, and isn't anything more than what you should expect at a neighborhood joint. i know why you go to Rao's.

whats-his-head is a fine actor, however.

Edited by tommy (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

asked Tony Bourdain , when he was in Austin, if he has ever eaten at Rao's. He got this funny look on his face and said, "That's the only place in the whole world where I can't get a reservation."

What Tony had to say about the place we took him to in Chicago...

Jesus! WHO EVER discovered that place??!! What a find--maybe the most amazing fucking meal I've had since..since..I dunnno. It makes Rao's look like Carmine's for accessibility. Food like that in the back of what? A wrecking yard? The "dining room" looked like a half a Conex container-andI KNOW that the bathroom I hadda walk all that way to was a fuckin PortaSan!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Ahhh, the much asked and often dreamed over question... "How do I, can I, will I-get an 'In' at Rao's?"

How much wood would a Woodchuck chuck if a....

The tales of my attempts to walk through the Gilded Door Of Mama's Parlor Cooking-

#1. Though misguided as I was, I thought I could be totally sincere and honest. I called when I first moved to the area from Western Pa. and said that I had read many fine things about their food and now that I was living in the area and was pondering a career in Culinary could I possibly find a table on their slowest evening to partake in their offerings.

Answer, "Nope, we don't have 'slow' evenings." The voice on the phone chuckled and was completely unimpressed with my plea.

#2. A year and a few months later(I figured I needed to work this whole thing very slowly and carefully-like coaxing an aging porker to that key spot of terra firma for the largest truffle ever unearthed). I called once again and explained that I was just in from Italy for a few days and that as the assistant to Sophia Loren's assistant could I stop in for a quick meal to give feedback to my boss so she could then, in turn, pass the info onto Miss Loren who might like to dine there on her pending trip to NYC.

Response, (laughing)"That's a good one... one a the best I ever heard! She's been here. She's welcome here. She loves it here. In other words, No." Ok, I was down for a 10 count but I wasn't out. Yet.

#3. My most honest and thus, heartbreaking attempt...

I became engaged to my wife and she being from Michigan had only ever heard the legend of Rao's(whereas I knew the reality of it :blink: )was taken with my idea that we should dine there as a sort of 'post-honeymoon-just-back-in-from-Europe' kinda deal. I spoke of it to her with all the confidence of a soon-to-be-husband. "Yeah, sure Honey. No problem. How can they say No? Right?"

Wrong.

I called twice. I emailed 4 times.

They weren't having any of it.

Or for that matter...

Me.

Answer, (in a very understanding tone)"We're sorry. No."

Postscript-

For our 1st Aniversary I bought my wife The Rao's Cookbook, presented her with it 3 days early, had her select 5 recipes that interested her most, spent the next 2 days shopping like a wild banshee, cooked for 8 1/2 hours on our Big Day, waved a huge beach towel at our smoke detector on the ceiling-on and off-for a total of 12 minutes while roasting peppers on our Viking and that night sat down with her to a romantic feast. She loved it. I barely ate due to equal parts exhaustion and smoke inhallation BUT in the end, in some sort of perverse, other-worldly-kinda-way... we ate at Rao's.

Damn them.

PS... I'm new here but have lurked for a couple months... great place you all have here!! Bravo! :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The food at Rao's is completely mediocre. The reason to go there is not to experience wonderful food. The reason to go to Rao's -- the only reason to go to Rao's, really -- is to say you've been there.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...