Some restaurants sell T-shirts and coffee mugs, but family-owned Rao’s restaurant at Caesars Palace has stuck with what they know: classic Italian food and the wines that complement it best.
The Rao’s brand, based on the famed 113-year-old Rao’s restaurant in East Harlem – one of the hardest tables to book in Manhattan – and Rao’s Las Vegas, which opened in 2006, saw an opportunity in the grocery aisle. Instead of having customers leave dinner marveling over pomodoro and vodka sauces with a balance they’d be unable to imitate at home, Rao’s moved into retail. Now, the restaurant sells pasta sauces, 12-year balsamic vinegar and roasted peppers locally at area Whole Foods.
This week, Nevadan Rao’s regulars will be able to snap up another product from the Italian authority: Rao’s wines.
For the last three years, Rao’s has teamed up with winemakers Susan and Robert Summer (former President of RCA Records and Sony Music International) of the Vineyard at Strawberry Ridge in Litchfield County, Conn. Using California-grown grapes, the 17-year-old winery has produced three West Coast wines for use in Rao’s restaurants: a Napa Valley Chardonnay, a Napa Merlot and a California Cabernet Sauvignon. Specially crafted to bring out the flavors in the restaurant’s menu, the wines are an obvious complement to hearty pastas and other Italian dishes.
Rao’s New York owner Frank Pellegrino Sr., Rao’s Las Vegas managing partner Frank Pellegrino Jr. and Executive Chef Carla Pellegrino and the Summers will introduce their wines to costumers this weekend at a pair of complimentary tastings at Whole Foods Town Square on June 19 and Whole Foods at the District on June 20.
Besides sampling the trio of wines, guests can get a taste of Rao’s food with accompanying cooking demonstrations by Carla Pellegrino.