Charles Rao, who immigrated with his parents from the southern Italian town of Polla, buys a small tavern on 114th St and Pleasant Avenue in an Italian neighborhood of New York City
Charles’ sons, Vincent and Louis Rao take over Rao’s and manage to keep the business open through the prohibition years.
After Louis’ passing, Vincent Rao takes over the family business and begins transitioning the tavern into a restaurant by introducing southern Italian dishes.
Anna Pellegrino Rao begins working with her husband Vincent and brings an expertise in southern Italian cuisine and an elegant style to help the Rao’s restaurant gain prominence. The restaurant begins to collect a number of “regulars” from the neighborhood and beyond.
Frank Pellegrino Sr. begins helping his aunt and uncle at Rao’s. Over the years, Frank emerges as the leader, heart and soul of Rao’s and becomes one of the foremost restauranteurs in America. Frank’s emphasis on simple, pure, delicious ingredients vastly improves the perception, taste and healthfulness of southern Italian cuisine. Frank Sr.’s notoriety and authentic Italian presence landed him rolls in Warner Brothers’ “Goodfellas” and HBO’s “The Sopranos.”
Famed New York Times restaurant critic, Mimi Sheraton, gives Rao’s a glowing 3-star review stating Rao’s serves “wonderfully simple, delicious and honest Italian food, all prepared strictly alla casaligna – home style.” This turns Rao’s into one of the hottest restaurants in NYC. To remain loyal to their “regulars,” Rao’s assigns “table rights” for specific nights of the week or month. The rights were prized family possessions passed from generation to generation.
At just 12 years-old, Frank Pellegrino Jr. became the fourth generation of the Rao’s family to work at the restaurant. This begins a career of over 35 years working at Rao’s.
Tired of saying “no” to people who want reservations, Frank Pellegrino Sr. decides to package and sell Rao’s sauce, “so this way I don’t have to say ‘no’ anymore and everybody can have it at home.” Rao’s Homemade Pasta Sauce is born with only the best ingredients and refused to add sugar, tomato paste, water, starches, fillers or color. Characteristics that still are central to the product line today.
Rao’s Homemade continues to develop traditional sauces like Tomato Basil and Sausage & Mushroom.
Rao’s Homemade celebrates 25 years of bringing one of the best-tasting sauces home.
Rao’s Homemade continues to expand their sauce flavors offering Alfredo sauce and also begins offering dry pasta.
Rao’s Homemade begins offering soup, bring high-quality ingredients and flavors to another part of your pantry.