RAO’S Meatballs

We’re not normally a recipe and cooking Web site — preferring to leave the minutiae of cooking and food obsessions to those cooking and food obsessives who love to debate the finer points of King Arthur v. Gold Medal Flour, or burning questions like: Genovese Sweet Basil: Overrated or Essential?

But if you’ve ever bitten into a Rao’s meatball and fallen in love at first bite, and let’s face it who hasn’t? — then you should take a gander at this recipe for them brought to you by the James Beard Foundation.

And if you’re looking for something to do in The Big Apple on March 21st, you could do a lot worse than headin’ down to 167 West 12th St. in Greenwich Village, and tasting an array of the Southern Italian-American classics that made Rao’s-New York the toughest table in town. Click here for the JBF Event page highlighting this dinner, and if you go, be sure to get a cocktail from Rao’s world-famous bartender Nick The Vest.*


455 E. 114th St.

New York, NY 10029



In Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.731.RAOS (Call after 4 PM and ask for “Bubbles” — we kid you not — he’s straight from Central Casting)



* When ELV was a bartender, his nickname was: John The Slightly Ill-Fitting Cardigan.

6 thoughts on “RAO’S Meatballs

  1. Try JR’s place on Durango – they make a decent meatball ! It might give Rao’s a run for the $$ – it’s definitely priced better.

  2. Has anyone back-to-back tested Rao’s polpetini to Martarano? Would Schoenegger’s (Sinatra) and Chin/Armeni’s (Pips) rank?
    Your thoughts, sensei…

  3. I’d be down with staging a meatball smackdown…John, EC, I feel a guest judge scenario where you would fit in nicely.

  4. LOVE Rao’s at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. Love it. No matter how long I stay, one dinner is always reserved for Rao’s. Honestly, it’s not the most expensive in town, but ranks in my view with the best of the best. Better food and better value than Zeffirino @ Venetian. I live in Chicago so there are plenty excellent, authentic mom & pop Italian restaurants here to help educate my palate. (if I do say so myself)

    I get the penne with vodka sauce with an order of meatballs with a glass or two of Italian wine. Outstanding.

    I’ve not played bocce ball with the ‘bocce bellas’ yet, but will try to next time.

  5. Interestingly .. that is virtually the same meatball recipe my family has been using my entire life (I’m in my 50’s).

  6. best thing about Rao’s meatballs is the meatball burger in the afternoon, its a very original variation on the theme. As for the meatballs themselves they are great if you are looking for classic 50’s style Italian-American food, but we have to be honest – Italian American food is not Italian, its American. For example the overwhelming abundance of garlic was used by early Italian settlers to mask the bad produce available at the turn of the century. Its sad that few American’s have tasted the real thing, they have no idea what Italian food really tastes or looks like.

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