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Home > NOTEWORTHY DINING > Las Vegas Noteworthy Dining > Rao's > Space
Walking through Caesar's Palace, it's easy to think you've taken a wrong turn and wound up at New York's landmark restaurant, Rao's of East Harlem. The facade is so realistic that there's even a real newspaper machine outside it selling The Wall Street Journal, not to mention signs for Thomas Jefferson Park, which happens to be right near the New York original. Indeed, while you know that you're in Las Vegas, this area of the restaurant is a true New York replica. Called "The Park," it features a 50-seat lounge from which you'll enjoy a facsimile of the same street corner facade that has graced East Harlem for more than 100 years, along with the faces of one of the popular Rao's cookbooks. Of course, the facade isn't exactly like that in New York. You don't have the four steps down into the restaurant, for instance; instead, you have two steps up to a raised platform, which is flanked by old-fashioned New York City streetlights. There is a ramp toward the side, if stairs are an issue. Large trees in oversized planters that are decorated with small white lights are strategically placed amongst the tables, which are adorned with crisp white linen tablecloths. The name "Rao's" graces both sides of the bold red street corner facade.

As you enter the magical restaurant that is Rao's, you'll immediately note the warm comfortable feeling that is prevalent throughout, from the service and the food to the generally congenial atmosphere. At the right, where you check in, a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel prevails with a plaque that reads, "To Frankie, Ron and Frank Jr., May our lady of Mount Carmel bless Rao's of Caesar's Palace as she has for the past 100 years in the window at Rao's of East Harlem, 2006." This comes as no surprise to people who know East Harlem, which was once home to one of New York's largest concentrations of Italian Americans. In fact, East Harlem, New York, has one of the oldest -- and once upon a time, largest -- religious festivals for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, held annually in July, Once you pass the blessed Madonna, you'll notice the first in what is a vast collection of signed celebrity photos, featuring actors, politicians and athletes, as well as friends and family. Toward the right you'll see a window into the open kitchen, in front of which is a table that features a sampling of Rao's delicious gourmet shop items. Currently, there's a store attached to the restaurant where these items are sold; if you decide you'd rather grab some of these delectable treats when you get home, however, you can find them at many high-end retailers, such as Citarella and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Although Carla and Frank Jr. won't be with you, you can enjoy the authentic Rao's accoutrements at any time. Of course, if you just want to prove that you were at the veritable Italian legend, you can buy T-shirts, hats, potholders and teddy bears, as well as the restaurant's popular cookbooks!

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