Rao’s is a restaurant founded in 1896. Rao’s is located at 455 East 114th Street, Italian Harlem, New York City. The restaurant was started in 1896 by Charles Rao, who moved with his parents from Italy to the United States. He bought a small shop in Harlem, once a very large Italian community, and ran the restaurant until his death in 1909. Louis Rao took over the business. He was seen by many as a very suave man. He had his hair cut at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and wore many fancy suits. Current co-owner Frank Pellegrino describes those days as “the days of big Cadillacs and usually convertibles.” In 1958, when Louis Rao had died, the convicted Lucchese crime family consigliere Vincent Rao took over the family business. He was much more conservative in behavior and looks and refined the menu into a more simple Italian menu, with the help of “Aunt Jake.” After Vincent Rao’s death in 1999, it was taken over by Frank Pellegrino, Anna Pellegrino Rao’s nephew, and Ronald Straci, another close relative. Anna Pellegrino-Rao refined the menu even more with the help of Vincent and she is the source of the menu’s identity today.
It is a popular landmark in New York City because of its exclusivity and reputation in food. Rao’s has only ten tables, which are purchased by very famous people, and they own those tables for life. Frank Sinatra owned a table in Rao’s, and when he died, the table was put up for sale and bought by another famous musician. (LeRoy Neiman painted a picture of Sinatra at the bar in Rao’s.) Even when the customer is not sitting at the table, it is not used by anyone else. Occasionally customers trade tables or allow friends to use the table.
Provided by wikipedia.com