VEGAS RESTAURANT ROUNDUP: Rao’s to Rao-pen on Strip

Posted on: January 31, 2024, 03:18h. 

Last updated on: February 3, 2024, 12:40h.

Rao’s, the beyond-exclusive Italian eatery, is reportedly scouting locations for its second Las Vegas run. According to the New York Post, this will happen while its owners are in town to serve five nights of pop-up dinners to VIP invitees at a secret location during the Super Bowl.

Rao’s co-owner Frank Pellegrino Jr.,
Rao’s co-owner Frank Pellegrino Jr., shown at Rao’s Caesars Palace in 2017, claimed that even he couldn’t get a table at the eatery’s New York City location. (Image: Getty)

The original Rao’s, which has operated in the same tiny New York City building in East Harlem since 1896, is so exclusive that “table rights” are required to reserve one of its four tables and six booths.

When Rao’s opened only its second location in 2006, it chose Las Vegas. Its 260 seats at Caesars Palace could be reserved by anyone, and just about everyone did, just to sample what they had been precluded from eating for their entire adult lives.

Las Vegas misses you, Bubbles! (Image: Las Vegas Sun)

The experience was most remembered not only for the famous food smothered in red sauce, but for the presence of beyond-congenial, 380-lb. host Robert “Bubbles” Ubriaco.

Rao’s closed at Caesars nine years later, a victim of the pandemic shutdown. And Bubbles, tragically, died of a stroke in 2011.

Two other Rao’s have opened, and reportedly thrived, since the Las Vegas venue opened its doors — one in Hollywood in 2013, and another last year in Miami.

Dining Ins & Outs

When we reported that Resorts World would get a Happy Lamb Hot Pot, our sources weren’t far off. Copper Sun, the first fine-dining concept from the Happy Lamb chain, will serve Inner-Mongolian cuisine at the resort starting this summer.

The Rio is shuttering its All American Bar & Grill after service on February 13. Its replacement will reportedly be a $2M restaurant called American Fix. Earlier this month, the Rio opened the Canteen Food Hall on the site of its former Carnival World Buffet, as we reported it would back in November.