While there's plenty of food on tables inside one renown Manhattan restuarant, none of it is actually being eaten there.
For the first time ever, Rao's will be making deliveries of its legendary southern Italian dishes. A big change for what co-owner Ron Staci said is the oldest restaurant in America that's never moved and been owned by one family.
The East Harlem staple, where wannabe patrons either have to know someone or get extremely lucky to get a seat at one of the 10 tables inside, has never offered delivery in its 124-year-history.
Starting this week, Rao's will be teaming up with Thrillist and working out of a ghost kitchen downtown for a two-week period. Some of its most popular menu items will be offered up as part of a program where Thrillist partners with city restaurants to give more people the option of trying some renown dining destinations.
"Over the next six months, 10 chefs, 10 restaurants, will be invited into our kitchen to serve up super limited edition specialty meal sets," said Thrillist's Mattew Kestenbaum, who said they're hoping to introduce popular spots to customers hungry for new options at a time when going for sit-down meals isn't much of a option.
The concept isn't totally different from the what the establishment has been doing since March. It began serving takeout when the pandemic hit, but now hungry customers won't have to leave the comfort of their homes to get their hands on some of the most-sought after grub in the city, including their famous meatballs.
"What we do is stuff that I grew up with my grandparents cooking," said Rao's Executive Chef Dino Gatto. "It's like going to your grandma's house for Sunday dinner."
Except now, Sunday dinner can be delivered to dining rooms across the city.