For decades Rao's existed as a neighborhood restaurant. Its local customers would fill the tables with such regularity that eventually they were given standing reservations - bookings that persevere to this day.
The Rao's phenomenon exploded in 1977, when New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton gave Rao's a gushing, half-page, three-star review in front of millions of readers.
Since Rao's NYC location only has ten tables, and only one seating per evening, the resulting demand would have been overwhelming even if the tables weren't already spoken for.
That the tables were "owned" like a condominium translated to almost no empty seats in the house, night after night.
At Caesars Palace in Las Vegas , RAOs has brought their New York Best and is accessible to a whole new generation of foodies. Two ten-table rooms duplicate the original Rao's saloon in New York. At the helm of RAOs in Las Vegas is Chef Carla Pellegrino.
"I had the honor of learning with the best people," she says, "like Jacques Pepin, Alain Sailhac and Andre Soltner. But the chef that was really working closer to me at the time was Dominique Cerrone, former chef de cuisine of Le Bernardin and one of the deans of FCI now; I like to think of him as my mentor."
The Cuisineist has had the pleasure of dining and meeting Chef Carla Pellegrino on several occasions and her dishes and dynamic personality keep us coming back for more. Carla has graciously shared one of her wonderful dishes for all us to enjoy .
PENNE WITH CAVOLLINI E PANCETTA
Penne pasta in Brussels sprouts and Bacon sauce – serve 4 pp
Brussels sprouts (quartered) 2lb
Slab of bacon (cut off the rime and dice) 1lb
Extra virgin olive oil .5 cup
Tomato paste tea spoon
Vegetable oil table spoon
Kosher or sea coarse salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste
Penne rigate Dececco 1lb
fill a sauce pan with 3.5 quarters of water, add kosher salt, put it over a hi-medium flame to bring it to a boil
cut out the Brussels sprouts roots, quarter them and washer in cold water – set it aside
Cut off the bacon rime and dice it in about 1cm cubic –
Set a sauté pan over a medium-hi flame, let it heat for about 2 minutes add the vegetable oil, after another 30 sec add the bacon, give a quick mix and lower the flame a bit
Let the bacon render it’s fat first and then turn the flame up to give the bacon some color, once it gets to a golden color, drain and discard the fat; add the extra virgin olive oil and the tomato paste – lower the flame and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes
Go back to the pasta water, once it gets to a roiling boiling point, add the Brussels sprouts and the pasta at the same time, let it cook for about 12 minutes –
After 8 minutes cooking, bring your bacon back over flame to reheat it
Strain the pasta and the Brussels together in a colander let about half cup of the cooking liquid aside , once dry pour it into the sauté pan, mix it well, add the remaining cooking liquid in the pan, cook it for another 2 minutes and serve hot
This dish is light , healthy and of course delicious. Our Thanks to Chef Carla Pellegrino for sharing.