Ina Garten

Thank you for calling Rao’s in East Harlem. Currently reservations for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 are closed. Thanks for calling……

Are you kidding me? You mean to tell me that a restaurant is booked for all of 2018? I mean I could probably get a table at Per Se or that Fish joint on 51st street if I asked nicely, aka….greased the reservation clerk. How in the world can a joint be booked? Welcome to New York and the “Who’s Who” of New York.  Now if you are scratching your heads wondering what I am talking about let me give you a back story.

According to their website Rao’s New York is a culinary national treasure. Widely acclaimed for its authentic, southern Neapolitan Italian cooking and its home-style family ambiance. Rao’s was honored with a Pinnacle Three Stars from New York Times Restaurant Critic Mimi Sheraton describing the cuisine as “exquisitely simple Italian cooking.”

The Joint opened in 1896 and is one of the countries oldest family owned and operated restaurant running in its original location. Handing down cherished Pellegrino and Rao Traditions as its main ingredients.

The list of regulars reads like the “who’s who” of New York cognoscenti, including Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, Nicholas Pileggi and Danny Aiello. Legions of politicians, sports figures and matinee idols have jockeyed for a reservation. There, dining at Rao’s is a legendary experience so beloved that getting a seat is only possible if you are a regular and have, “table rights,” or if you’re lucky enough to be invited as a guest by someone who does. In Las Vegas, you are lucky enough to be our guest. From our family to yours, we invite you to sit back and relax while filling yourself with more than food. Cheers!

Sorry I hate to cut and paste so much I didn’t’ want to miss anything. What all that means is what the title of this worthless dribble of a post says – You ain’t getting in there for dinner. That is what is so funny about this place. It is only open Monday through Friday and is closed on the weekends. Who does that? Who can not be open on the weekends and still stay in business? Obviously the Pellegrino family is doing something right.

Now there are those who have gotten tables there. My cousin posted that she had dinner in this 10 table shoebox and I would love to hear the story. Even one of my fellow tour bus ticket sellers has boasted a bet with one of my contemporaries. Yep Amanda Astoria has made it clear that she will get a table (remember – we go in half for a table and I got the wine bill) when she found out that her main squeeze Jimmy Fallon has dined in one of the famous booths.

The guest list of those who “own” tables is pretty remarkable and I won’t spread rumors since you can GTS (Google That Shit) on your own. So who wants to go have drinks at the bar and see if we can get a table?

IMG_0884As you can see the place is very small and quaint. There is only one ‘deuce’ and the rest are either booths or larger tables.

IMG_0886Prosciutto and Peas – This is the dish that Frank and Ina cooked on her show one day. I can’t think of a better marriage.

IMG_0887Frank Pellegrino standing outside his namesake. Sadly Frank passed away this year but the business still runs under family ownership.

IMG_2287Snapped a pic the day I was up in that part of the world. Trust me when I say it is small.

So Muphranks – When are we going?

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Just Call us Ina and Jeffrey

Ok, let’s get one thing straight. You ever, ever call me Jeffrey I am punching someone in the throat or kicking them in the baby maker. I will admit that when we started watching “The Barefoot Contessa” I was not a fan. That voice, the doting of “Jeffrey will love these” and all the gay dinner guests would put me on the ledge. It wasn’t till Mrs. CBT made a couple of her dishes that I turned the other cheek. I believe it was at a Live at the Garden concert that she made some artichoke salad that really was killer. The only problem with the Ina’s menus is that you need to go knock off a bank because she cooks some expensive shit! Lobster, Caviar, Frozen Artichokes (which I may add is not available in Memphis) and cheeses that I have never heard about. Even my boy Tony Bourdain poked fun at Ina’s husband on his speaking tour “Jeffrey really loves his meatloaf, if you know what I mean.” Anyway when we moved up here I knew that we would be exposed to some new foods and naturally cuisines that one would not normally get in Memphis kind of like when we watch the show.

Mrs. CBT and I keep our expenses down so that we can visit all those Dive Bars and pay for many vacations by eating 90% of our meals at home. This also keeps our weight down since we try to eat more lean meat and we watch our portions. Let me stop you before you say “Way to go CBT” because in the pantry right next to the quinoa is a package of double stuffed Oreos because CBT is a fat kid at heart. Ever since I got relieved of my cooking duties (so I use a half a pound of butter when cooking) the menus are designed by Mrs. CBT. She takes great pride in creating the menus and I get to unpack the Fresh Direct boxes. This past Monday I get the Fresh Direct order and I am looking it over where I see under produce ‘Wild Ramps’.

“Honey, what the hell are Ramps?” I inquired to Mrs. CBT.

“They are very popular up here and are in season, Ina loves to cook with them.” She informed me from the other room.

“Honey, we are just getting into the spring, what the feck plant grows in the dead of the winter except for a weed?’ then I take a look in the box and what do I see…..a bunch of weeds that we just paid $6.00 bucks for.

So Mrs. CBT sautéed them up in the skillet with some “Good Olive Oil” and brown butter (you see what I did there KLC Man) and served them with Crab Cakes and oven roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest. Now I consider myself a true adventurer when it comes to the cuisine up here in New York City. I will try everything at least once and rarely have gotten boinked. Well I found something out my friends. I am not a fan of Wild Ramps.

IMG_0972Here is the menu for the week

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Here is the Fresh Direct invoice, Wild Ramps??? I bet you guys have never seen that shit at Gangsta Kroger have you!

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Here it is in all its glory. A wild ramp still with the loose soil on it.

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Pic on the top right is what they looked like. Sadly I didn’t get a picture of the plate.

Again, you feckers call me Jeffrey and we are going to fight!