Notes from a recipe reader: During a weekend in New York City, we found ourselves in Baldoria’s on 49th Street, highly recommended by our concierge at the Central Park Inter-Continental. Two diners at a nearby table were discussing a dish — at the time I had no idea they were anything other than more diners — one thing led to another, and we wound up trying the dish (probably the best polenta I have ever eaten, and something I would definitely go out of my way to eat again). Turns out the folks discussing the quality of the night’s food were Baldoria’s owner and executive chef. In addition to the polenta, Peter and I shared a selection of wonderful oysters, including a few we could not get in Seattle recently, Peter and Andrew had excellent veal, and I tried the linguine with clam sauce, which was excellent.
At the end of our meal, we talked with Frank Pellegrino, Jr., the owner and member of a long-line of NYC restaurateurs.. He gave this advice to Andrew: whatever you do, do with passion! Be careful to follow your own heart, and do what works for you. Frank is the son of Frank Pellegrino, Sr., the co-owner of Rao’s, and grandson of Anna and Vincent Rao. His dad encouraged him to try other avenues. He tried, but now, with passion, he is following his heart, and has his own restaurant near Times Square. Frank’s enthusiasm for his customers, his family, the restaurant and the restaurant business reminded us of our old friend, Fred Nulli.
Frank gave us a copy of his family’s cookbook, published in 1998 and available from Random House. (Click here on Rao’s Cookbook for more information on getting a copy.) No, the book does not have a polenta recipe, but it does include many other mouth-watering recipes and photos, some of which include popular media folks you may recognize. (I am thinking of encouraging Peter to grow a mustache again; folks used to mistake him for Meathead, Archie Bunker’s son-in-law. With the mustache, we might just be able to get a table at Rao’s.) Dining at that exclusive East Harlem establishment may be difficult for us out-of-towners, but we are happy to head back to Baldoria’s, an up and comer. We advise getting in there for a meal now while you can.
If you are intrigued by Rao’s and its recipes, click here to view a recipe for Linguine with Clam Sauce, or, click here on Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage for a tempting pasta dish, recipes reprinted with permission.
Just added a recipe for Mozzarella in Carrozza, another for Lasagne and a very simple Chicken Siciliana.
To see the jacket photo of Rao’s legends, Frank Pellegrino, Sr., the co-owner of Rao’s, and Anna and Vincent Rao click here on RAO’s COOKBOOK.
Baldoria’s has since closed at the mid-Manhattan location. Frank Jr. & Gina are now restaurateurs in Las Vegas.
You can find the above recipe(s) by tapping here on the Home Cookin’ index.
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