How We Ate A Meal From NYC’s Most Exclusive Restaurant

Rao'sWhile my blog is primarily about travel, I also write quite a bit about food.

Food and travel intertwine and great trip or destination is even better when enjoying local food is also involved.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we haven’t been traveling but we’ve still been eating some great food. I’ve made it a point to try to support local businesses that I hope will come out of this situation still standing (serving?).

A couple of weeks back, a friend of mine was texting me and asked if I got on the list to do takeout from what’s probably NYC’s most exclusive restaurants.

Rao’s, located in East Harlem was doing takeout for the first time in their 124 year history!

I read and get e-mails from various food sites so I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about this.

Rao’s only has 10 tables which are reserved by regulars. I’m pretty sure that I read that Warren Buffet has even been turned away. Basically, the odds of getting into Rao’s for a meal is more or less impossible.

For now, the restaurant is offering a Taste of Rao’s for $80. They say it serves two, I think it’s enough for more. There is no menu, everyone gets the same four dishes. The meal comes with Penne Marinara, Meatballs, Lemon Chicken and Salad.

Ordering the meal is an interesting process. If you’d like to order, you send raos_eastharlem a direct message on Instagram. The wait time is in the 2-3 week range and it has to be picked up at the restaurant. Payment is cash only and you can order more than one offer.A couple of days after sending a direct message to the restaurant, my friend called me up and said he got the message from Rao’s that he could place an order but he couldn’t make it. He asked me if I’d like to go in his place. Yes please!

When I picked up the bag, it was very heavy. I couldn’t wait to see to check it out.
Here’s what was inside. (The only thing not pictured is a small container or oil and vinegar.)

I bet you’re wondering one thing, how was the food?

Salad
I’m not much of a salad fan and this was nothing special, just a decent fresh salad. I’m not sure what more there is to say about it.

Penne MarinaraI’ve had Rao’s jarred sauce before and it is delicious (but pricey) so I couldn’t imagine this not being enjoyable.

While I would’ve liked the pasta a bit more al dente, it was still delicious. The sauce is so good that it would probably be good on just about any pasta.

Lemon ChickenThe lemon chicken had a nice grilled flavor to it and the lemon sauce was flavorful but a bit thin and oily. Kim and I enjoyed it but were too full to finish it. This was a good thing.

I had the leftover lemon chicken the following day for lunch and it was even better. The sauce thickened a drop and the flavor really seemed to soak into the chicken. After trying a bite cold, I decided not to heat it up.

If you order this meal, I’d say taste the chicken when you get it but save the rest for the following day!

MeatballsI expected the meatballs to be the highlight of the meal and they did not disappoint!

The meal comes with two huge meatballs the size of a baseball. They come sitting in a generous amount of delicious sauce. (I’m pretty sure the penne sauce was different but I’m not positive.)Kim, Lucas and I loved the flavor of the meatballs and couldn’t finish. The following day I ate the remaining half and it was just as good as the night before.

Final Thoughts:

I never thought that I’d get to eat food from what is probably NYC’s most exclusive restaurant. The closest I thought I’d ever come was when we’ve had their jarred sauce which is sold in supermarkets!

For $80, I’m not saying it’s cheap but it was a reasonable price to pay for. Kim and I both thought it felt like we were eating an excellent, home cooked meal. That’s definitely not a bad thing!

If I get the message from Rao’s that I can order for pickup, I’ll be offering the opportunity to my friend but I might consider heading over too for another Taste of Rao’s!

Rao’s is located at 455 E. 114TH Street, New York NY.

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