Famed Italian eatery Rao’s reopens, but will keep online ordering

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Rao’s has reopened.

The impossible-to-get-into Italian eatery welcomed back in-person diners this week for the first time since the pandemic hit, in accordance with state rules.

We hear the hotspot’s meatball maestro, executive chef Dino Gatto, said of the doors swinging open again: “Everyone was happy to be back in the restaurant. It was like seeing your family for the first time in 14 months.”

But the East Harlem institution is also going to keep its Rao’s to-go operation going so that diners can still get takeaway orders.

“They want to keep it going for everyone who supported Rao’s during this time,” a regular said. Among those hoofing it back to the spot in-person was famed foot specialist Dr. Rock Positano, spies said.

With just four tables and six booths, Rao’s one of the city’s most exclusive reservations — before the coronavirus put the city’s heated dining scene on ice. We reported that during the forced closure, owners began to make ordering available online, and even launched a pop-up “ghost kitchen” for delivery downtown with other top eateries.

Its Los Angeles location always offered to-go orders.

Manhattan restaurants have been able to reopen at 50 percent capacity since March, and allowed to move to 75 percent this week, according to state guidelines. The Post has reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said limits on capacity will be lifted later this month.

Rao’s had also been donating food to staffers at area hospitals during the pandemic, as well as members of the FDNY and NYPD.

The Post previously reported in 2019 that the 123-year-old East Harlem institution had been booked solid for 42 years. The spot has been on the same Manhattan corner since 1896.

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