A disagreement over what's best for a sauce distributor is reportedly straining the partnership that runs the show at Rao's, a cozy Italian eatery that's been doing business in Harlem for over 100 years. The Post reports that Rao's is locked in a legal battle over whether shareholders in the company's signature sauce and olive oil operations were taken advantage of by Ron Straci, one of restaurant's co-owners, and his wife.
The suit was filed earlier this month by Frank Pellegrino Sr. and alleges that Straci and his wife Sharon—who were both named as defendants—ran the business as a "personal fiefdom," leaving Pellegrino and other shareholders out of key decisions. Pellegrino also claims in the suit that Sharon threatened to leave Rao's and set up a competing company in order to get her way.
"I hope it will work out," Straci told the Post. "We try to keep ourselves above the fray and not let it affect people who work for us…Sometimes [Pellegrino] is on one side [of the room] and I am on the other."
The Rao's waiter-turned-owner rebuffed the charges against his wife, calling the lawsuit "cruel and full of untrue allegations."
Longtime patrons of Rao's have described palpable tension on the dining room floor. "Frankie usually sits in the first chair by the bar, and Ron stands on the far wall, but now, when one shows up, the other leaves," one regular told the tabloid.