The white tablecloths are set. All photos courtesy of Rao’s

The RundownMiami

Everything You Need to Know About Rao’s Miami Beach


Rao’s in New York has long been one of the most coveted reservations in the country. Now, the beloved restaurant has made its local debut with Rao’s Miami Beach, located in the St. Moritz Tower at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, formerly home to another South Florida iteration of a New York hot spot, Lure Fishbar.

The homey Southern Italian spot has been around since 1896 (not a typo) and it remains family-run by third- and fourth-generation owners. Even though executive chef Dino Gatto may not be family by blood, that red sauce bonds you. He has been with Rao’s for the last 28 years – that’s about half his life – and says it feels like he’s serving family.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new Rao’s Miami Beach, including how to snag a reservation.

Photo courtesy of Rao’s
Photo courtesy of Rao’s

First things first: Here’s what to do if reservations are hard to come by…

The original Rao’s in New York is widely considered to be one of the toughest reservations in the United States — the type of place where you need to know someone to get in, the intimate restaurant’s 10 tables are typically reserved for regulars and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, and Tom Hanks. (They stopped taking reservations from non-regulars back in the ‘70s after getting a three-star review from the New York Times.)

With 160 seats in Miami, you’d think this would be an easier reservation to score. But with Miami locals eager to experience the legendary Rao’s and New Yorkers coming into town, tables at Rao’s Miami Beach are quickly filling up. “We’ve already had guests coming in for dinner [during our soft opening] and before they leave, they make multiple reservations for the future,” Gatto explains.

Don’t get discouraged, though. Here at Resy, we’re always here to help with tips for getting a table. Reservations for Rao’s Miami Beach open a day at a time, 90 days out, so be sure to plan in advance. Or you can always hit the Notify button to get notified if a table opens up before then.

Photos courtesy of Rao’s
Photos courtesy of Rao’s

Rao’s has a long history, as does its new Miami home.

The iconic East Harlem restaurant first opened in 1896, making it one of the oldest family-owned and operated restaurants in the country. Bringing with it 127 years of history and tradition, Rao’s new Miami location is housed in the St. Moritz building, an Art Deco tower that dates back to the 1930s.

“Ultimately it felt right to go in the St. Moritz building at the Loews South Beach, as it is an Art Deco hotel that is a historical Miami landmark,” Gatto says.

The Rao’s team reportedly faced some challenges with designing the new restaurant in such a historic space – where the original Art Deco structure was required to be preserved – but the results are sure to impress. Red doors, red carpet, red drapery, red sauce … are we sensing a theme here?

Photos courtesy of Rao’s

Yes, expect red sauce … and lots of it.

Rao’s homestyle menu is simple southern Italian comfort food at its finest. With a focus on Naples and the wider Campagna region, you can expect plenty of red sauce favorites, like pasta with marinara sauce that’s a family recipe. In fact, their red sauce is so popular it’s even become a fan-favorite tomato sauce brand on grocery store shelves.

The menu includes raw bar options, antipasti, soups and salads, pasta plates, grilled steaks and chops, and other traditional entrées like parmesan any way you want it (veal, chicken, or eggplant). And of course, don’t forget the staple desserts: tiramisu, cannoli, New York cheesecake, and beyond.

While we’re all looking forward to the legendary favorites – from Rao’s Traditional Meatballs to Uncle Vincent’s Lemon Chicken – Gatto has also created several new menu items exclusively for Miami. There’s a seafood tower fitting of the restaurant’s new seaside location, and plenty of caviar.

Seafood and outdoor seating. Photo courtesy of Rao’s
Seafood and outdoor seating. Photo courtesy of Rao’s

You’ll immediately feel like family.

Dining at Rao’s feels like Sunday dinner at a family member’s house, any night of the week. Co-owners Ron Straci and Frank Pellegrino Jr. are third- and fourth-generation family members of the original owners, and the Rao’s team is known for creating a family ambiance at their restaurant. This made the partnership with Loews Hotels – a family-owned and operated hospitality brand that also focuses on welcoming guests like family – a perfect fit.

“Similarly, like Loews, the Rao’s team knows what it takes to give customers a memorable authentic experience, one that will make Rao’s Miami Beach a remarkable addition to the Miami culinary scene,” Alex Tisch, President & CEO of Loews Hotels & Co, said.

Photo courtesy of Rao’s
Photo courtesy of Rao’s

VIPs, the Rao’s Room was created especially for you.

If the expansive main dining room feels like too much of a departure from the original, perhaps the exclusive Rao’s Room will be more your speed.

“This room is really meant to pay homage to the original location in NYC,” Gatto says.

Designed to look like the smaller New York location with celebrity photos hanging on the walls, this intimate dining room (previously the private events space of the former Lure Fishbar) will be held for VIPs and regulars. The cozier space has only 11 tables and its own small bar, much like the original Harlem institution.

Lyssa Goldberg is a Miami-based freelance writer and content strategist. She loves telling stories about food, wellness, and travel, and you can find her byline in Parade, U.S. News & World Report, American Way, Mashable, Time Out, and more. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.