One of the country's oldest family-owned restaurants (and still in its original location), Rao's in East Harlem has been serving red sauce Italian classics for over 100 years. The 10-table VIP establishment is notoriously hard/impossible to get into, so if you do score a seat, eat as much fried mozzarella, meatballs, and penne alla vodka as you can. If not, don't worry -- there are Rao's sauces and cookbooks available for purchase so you can DIY at home.
With its origins dating back to 1896, this legendary restaurant on a quiet East Harlem corner is notorious for its impossible-to-score reservations. However, once in the door at Rao’s, diners can expect year-round Christmas lights adorning its walls while enjoying home-style Southern Italian cuisine served family-style. Signature dishes include the Pasta Alla Vodka, Double-Broiled Lemon Chicken, and Rao’s Meatballs. And if there’s a silver lining that’s come from the pandemic, the eatery now offers its food through delivery platforms, along with a product line of sauces, dry pasta, and more that are available throughout retail stores nationwide.