“Authentic Southern Italian cuisine”
Rao's is a Southern Italian restaurant founded in 1896 and located at 455 East 114th Street (at Pleasant Avenue) in East 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 Italian Harlem, once a very large Italian-American 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." He was much more conservative in behavior and looks and refined the cuisine into a simpler Italian menu, with the help of "Aunt Jake." After Vincent Rao's death in 1999, the restaurant 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. The restaurant was featured in the 2013 Oscar nominated film, The Wolf of Wall Street.
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