After this 10-table Italian eatery opened in 1896, locals who frequented the family-run establishment were given standing reservations that are still in place today. Thus, year-long waits for a table are the norm, unless would-be diners are invited by a table “owner.” Behind the unassuming façade, Rao’s exclusive dining room is lined with photos of former guests, a group that includes Tom Cruise, Madonna, Celine Dion, and Donald Trump. There’s no printed menu, but signature dishes include the seafood salad, meatballs, and lemon chicken. During the meal, the owner chats with patrons and occasionally sings along with the famous jukebox.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.