ELV note: Rao’s hasn’t changed its menu since Ronald Reagan was President. So why is it “Essential?” Because, 1) the iconic, original one in NYC is impossible to get into; 2) the food is identical at both; 3) that food is about as righteous a rendition of Italian-American food as you’ll find in these here United States; and finally, because 4) ELV (the man, the myth, the deplore-r of all things low-class and Italian…as in “yo-Rocky!” Jersey Shore, low-class-Italian) has never had a bad meal or a bad bite in the joint. (And we’ve eaten here at least a dozen times since it opened.) That’s why the review below – and Top 50 status — still stands.
“Red and dead” describes the vast majority of Italian-American restaurants with their cookie-cutter menus and uninspired cooking, but few Americans seem to demand or expect much from their chicken Marsala or pasta Bolognese.
Lucky for the rest of us, Rao’s is the exception to all this mendacious mediocrity. (more…)