The owner of New York City’s famed Rao’s Italian restaurant, reputedly the toughest place in the Big Apple to get a table, died this week after a bout with lung cancer. Frank Pellegrino Sr. was 72.
The restaurant has thrived in Harlem, through some of the neighborhood’s most dangerous times, since 1896. It features only 10 tables, and follows one of the most unusual seating policies in the industry. Seven of the 10 (two of which were added during a relatively recent renovation) are “owned” by regular customers. Those patrons in essence have a right of first refusal. They can come every night, lend the table to friends, or donate the seating for charity auctions. Continue reading