New York City stalwart Rao’s — considered NYC’s hardest reservation — has debuted its first location in the Sunshine State. Housed within the St. Moritz Tower at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, the restaurant boasts southern Neapolitan Italian cuisine and home-style family ambiance.
Established in Harlem, New York, 127 years ago, Rao’s is among the country’s oldest family-operated restaurants, best known for its classic red-sauce Italian dishes. The original venue, with just four tables and six booths set against a backdrop of year-round Christmas lights and photographs of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli, gained notoriety for its elusive reservations after earning a three-star review from The New York Times in 1977. Regulars are known to have weekly, monthly, or quarterly reserved tables that only they can gift out.
The Miami branch promises Rao’s popular dishes like meatballs, a blend of veal, pork, and beef, Sunday gravy, and Uncle Vincent’s lemon chicken, charcoal-broiled and dressed with Vincent’s popular lemon sauce — all designed for sharing. Additionally, it will offer new dishes tailored for Miami diners, including a seafood tower, a caviar presentation, and a rotating selection of the day’s catch. The Miami location offers much of the red-forward decor, just with a larger dining room and outdoor seating.
Given the notoriety Rao’s has garnered over the years as one of the most challenging reservations to snag in the U.S., many wonder if the same will be said of the Miami location. Executive chef Dino Gatto, a nearly 30-year veteran of the restaurant, acknowledges this enthusiasm. “We have guests coming in for dinner, and before they leave, they are making multiple reservations for the future.” Reflecting its New York counterpart, several guests have already inquired about securing standing reservations.
Rao’s Miami Beach is now open nightly for dinner at 1601 Collins Avenue from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are available up to 90 days in advance. To book, visit here.