Sad and disappointed. When I heard that Rao's was opening in Hollywood, I was really excited. I have been lucky enough to dine at the original in Harlem once and thought it was the best New York/New Jersey style Italian food I have ever had.
So, when the new branch in Hollywood opened, I rushed to get a reservation. I suffered through busy signals for 2 days when I tried to ring up the restaurant. I guess they haven't heard of Open Table!
Anyway, when it finally got through, the person on the other end of the line told me that (i) they weren't open on the weekends like the NY original (at the time, I thought this isn't NY and good luck) and (ii) they didn't have a reservation between 7:30 and 8:30 for the rest of the year!. So I took what I could get and made a 6:30 reservation for Friday night.
My party arrived promptly at 6:30. The restaurant valet was very friendly and quite efficient. The exterior of the renovated Hollywood Canteen was well constructed and I liked the "Rao's since 1896" stenciled on the window. Nice touch.
The inside of the restaurant is reminiscent of the location in Harlem, but that's where the comparisons stop. What you experience next can only be characterized as the "LA Hostess." Frankly, not even the LA Hostess, because, just like an old carton of milk, this woman had reached her expiration and didn't realize it. Combination of arrogance and rudeness was a lethal combination.
She immediately attempted to seat our party in one of the two tables in the bar area which was unacceptable. When we asked for another table, she looked like she was exhausting all of her brain power to final a solution to the situation. I asked her why we couldn't sit in the other 5 (and I not kidding!) open tables in the front room and she she said they were reserved for reservations later in the evening in the sweet spot between 8:00 and 9:00. That was complete BS and made us feel the caste system that's just not going to work in LA! Was the table reserved for Woody or Leo? Who cares! That's not going to fly in LA! The food's just not that good! Anyway, she moved two tables together in the back patio which is their Siberia, a complete after thought and we dined out there.
The meal itself was good, not great and definitely not worth suffering through the attitude! We enjoyed the fried cheese panini and the baked clams appetizers. The frito misto and the seafood salad were ok. The pasta and the veal parm were good, but Dan Tana or Pepponi are better. We finished with the cheese cake which was good as well. Our waiter Jason was very attentive and quite good.
Notice I spent only four lines on the food and the remainder the attitude. If the way we were treated is any indication of how the treat others, Rao's is going to get as cold as that left over pizza next to the couch in the morning in no time. It reminded me of Red O when it first opened and we saw what happened with that restaurant. I have no idea who goes there now to fill a quarter of their tables each night.
No way i'm ever going back. The food is just not that good to suffer though the attitude! Sushi Zoe - certainly, Rao's NFW!
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