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Rao's History

Anna and Vincent Rao

Anna and Vincent Rao

In 1974, business had become so brisk that Vincent’s wife, Anna Pellegrino Rao, brought her pots and recipes to the restaurant.  Anna was an unlikely restaurant chef.  She was as elegant as her husband was homespun.  Anna’s deft touch improved all the traditional Italian dishes and Rao’s became a favorite for a small army of steady customers. Anna wondered how the family could bring this simple Southern Italian style cooking to the customers they couldn't fit into the tiny Rao’s Restaurant. It was Anna's wish that eveyone would someday be able to enjoy a good homemade marinara sauce, and in 1993 Rao’s Specialty Foods was formed.

Vincent Rao

Vincent Rao

Vincent Rao was a very different kind of man. Instead of tailored clothes and Waldorf haircuts, Vincent Rao preferred a cowboy hat and casual clothes.  He also preferred cooking in the kitchen at the saloon.  He was born in 1907 in the house next door to the Rao’s Bar & Grill, and lived there all his life.

 

Louis Rao

Louis Rao

Louis Rao, in his tailored Chesterfield topcoats and white-on-white shirts, was, by neighborhood standards, very suave. He enjoyed being behind the bar at Rao’s and ran the place until his death in 1958.

Charles Rao

Charles Rao

Charles Rao was a child when his mother and father arrived in New York. As a bright and resourceful young man Charles Rao bought a small saloon from the George Ehret Brewery at the corner of 114 Street and Pleasant Avenue in upper Manhattan.  It was 1896.  He called the place Rao’s. In 1930, Charle's sons Louis and Vincent became the operating owners.