RAO's Caesars Palace Frank Pellegrino Jr. at the Las Vegas Food & Wine

Executive Chef Frank Pellegrino Jr.

Frank Pellegrino Jr.

Frank Pellegrino Jr. – Rao's Restaurant Group
Author: Rao's On the Grill

Being a restaurateur, let alone a successful one, has never been easy, even when you've got a legendary restaurant such as Rao's in New York in your arsenal. Frank Pellegrino, Jr., co-owner of the original Rao's in Harlem, Rao's at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and Rao's in Hollywood, however knows that a successful restaurant is made by making guests feel like they're part of the family.

"Frankie" as he is known to Rao's regulars, grew up helping his father and family at the restaurant – waiting tables, cooking, managing the restaurant – basically learning the family business, even though his father, Frank Sr. attempted to talk him out of it.

The fourth generation owner of Rao's, Pellegrino attended Connecticut State University on a wrestling scholarship; where he studied graphic design and eventually went on to open his own advertising agency in New York. The restaurant business never left his blood, as he continued to work at the restaurant nights. Frank, however, knew that this was his legacy and where he belonged, ultimately returning to work at Rao's full-time.

In 2000 he opened Baldoria in New York's tony Theater District, a 200 seat restaurant that managed to still carry off the intimate ambience, and stellar Italian cuisine of Rao's, except at Baldoria, people eventually would be able to get a reservation. Pellegrino then decided to bring his talents to Las Vegas to open the second outpost of Rao's, and eventually Los Angeles to open the third.

Pellegrino moved to out west to open Rao's at Caesars Palace in 2006 and Rao's in Hollywood in 2013, and has since brought the same Southern Italian fare and sense of family and camaraderie that one used to only be able to get if they had their standing reservation at the original Rao's. He can be found not only greeting guests, but floating from table to table, ensuring that the Las Vegas and Hollywood experience is the same warm, familiar and inviting one they'd feel in New York.

In 2012, Pellegrino released Rao's On the Grill (St. Martin's Press), which is full of signature Rao's dishes and new creations from "Uncle Vincent's Lemon Chicken," to pastas, salads and even desserts, this book is a must-have for anyone with a passion for cooking or dining al fresco.


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