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Photograph: Courtesy of Shutterstock
Photograph: Courtesy of Shutterstock

Rao’s, NYC’s most exclusive restaurant, is doing take-out for the first time ever

Emma Orlow

In light of everything that’s happening with the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants have had to develop systems in which their businesses, some for the first time, could now offer delivery and to-go options so that no one is congregating in their space. One of the more shocking developments of these new citywide rules is witnessing restaurants such as Rao’s, built on the premise of exclusivity, suddenly have to join the public eye.

You’ve got to know someone to get a table at the East Harlem red sauce joint that first opened in 1896—in fact, we’ve never eaten there ourselves—literally, every table has been booked for the 100 plus years that they’ve been in business. Tables are rumored to be “owned” by regulars, an absolute status symbol that no one gives up; seats are reportedly passed down the family lineage, like an heirloom necklace.  

However, just last week, an employee by the name of Marc Mel posted on his personal Instagram account, noting that Rao’s, for the first time ever, would be launching takeout service, vaguely stated that delivery could also be an option if you DM him. Even in a crisis, it seems the keep-it-in-the-family approach is in full force. The full restaurant menu—including their standout meatballs—are said to be available for pick-up. 

Of course, these days, many New Yorkers may know the restaurant group for their sauces, a pantry staple in many houses, widely available in almost all bodegas and supermarkets, and perhaps more relevant now than ever since we’re confined to at home, shelf-stable goods.
Rao’s is located at 455 E 114th St, New York, NY 10029.


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