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Frank Pellegrino Jr.- Bringing Rao’s To the People

Being a successful restaurateur is never easy. Being the son of a legendary restaurateur sounds like it might be easier but not always. This is especially true when your name is Frank Pellegrino Jr. and your dad, Frank, Sr., runs New York City’s toughest table-to-book in town, Rao’s (pronounced RAY-ohs). We’ve never snagged a table at Rao’s NYC, which is on our dining bucket list. I think tables  end up in the wills of its regulars.

Frank Pellegrino Jr. Rao's Restauranys
Frank Pellegrino Jr., Rao’s Restaurants


It takes (meat) balls to follow in the footsteps of Frank Sr., and Frank Pellegrino Jr. (“Frankie” to Rao’s regulars) has done just that overseeing  Rao’s Caesars Palace, Las Vegas (opened 2006) and Rao’s Hollywood (opened Fall 2013). The tables are easier to book, and the Southern Italian fare served with a large helping of hospitality is just as satisfying. That’s why Rao’s has a loyal following everywhere.

Frank Jr. earned his chops working at Rao’s NYC at night while running an advertising business by day. His Mad Men career took him to many restaurants and prepped him well to step out on his own in 2000 with his first restaurant, Baldoria, located in Times Square. It opened with great fanfare; I remember the party.

Rao's Hollywood
Rao’s Hollywood

Vegas came calling, and Frank followed with the first Rao’s. Today, with the two Rao’s restaurants and a book, Rao’s on the Grill, Frank Jr. has accomplished something his Pops never did at the “original”- make a dinner table at Rao’s accessible for the rest of us folks. Mangia!

Connect:   Twitter@Rao’sRetaurants

Melanie Young, July 7, 2015


David and Melanie chewed the fat with Frank Pellegrino Jr. July 8, on The Connected Table LIVE! and Here’s the show!



David Ransom Drink Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Modern Mixology with Tony Abou-Ganim

He’s a Modern Mixologist and creator of numerous signature cocktails featured on bar menus throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. What are the craft and creative process for developing a memorable and perfectly balanced cocktail?

We pose this question to Tony Abou-Ganim (a.k.a. The Modern Mixologist) on The Connected Table LIVE! June 10th. Tony’s amazing career has spanned the heights- from Harry Denton’s Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco- to the lights of Las Vegas working with hotel and resort kingpin, Steve Wynn (Bellagio, Wynn Resorts).


Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist
Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist

Wherever you go and whenever you order a cocktail on a bar menu, Tony’s hand is probably in the mix.

Connect and follow Tony on Twitter and Facebook.

Tony Abou-Ganim’s Signature Cable Car Cocktail  

(courtesy of

The Cable Car was created in 1996 as a signature cocktail for the Starlight Room, a stunning nightclub and cocktail lounge atop the historic Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Its name comes from the geographic location of its house of origin … One of the city’s landmark properties, the Sir Francis Drake is located along the world famous Nob Hill cable car tracks, and its Starlight Room is affectionately referred to as the lounge that can be found “between the stars and the cable cars.”

6-10-09 162
6-10-09 162


  • 1 ½ ounce Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • ¾ ounce Marie Brizard orange Curacao
  • 1 ½ ounce fresh lemon sour *


Directions: In an ice filled mixing glass add Captain Morgan, orange curacao and fresh sour; shake until well blended. Strain into a chilled sugar-cinnamon frosted cocktail glass* and garnish with an orange spiral – (Orange spirals can be easily cut fresh using a citrus zester, also known as a channel knife). Mixing 2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice with one part simple syrup will easily make fresh lemon sour.

Hint: To sugar-cinnamon frost a cocktail glass, first chill the glass, rub the rim’s circumference approximately ¾ inch in depth with a lemon wedge, then dip into a bowl of superfine sugar – (regular granulated sugar does not adhere as well).


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The How of TAO- Secrets of a Top Grossing Restaurant

TAO: the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony (

 Tao (pronounced “dao”) means literally “the path” or “the way.” It is a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings. The workings of Tao are vast and often beyond human logic. In order to understand Tao, reasoning alone will not suffice. One must also apply intuition.

What’s it like to oversee the kitchens at the highest grossing independent restaurant in America? We’ll ask Ralph Scamardella, Executive Chef and Partner for The TAO Group. Ralph joins us on The Connected Table LIVE! May 20th 2pm ET on W4CY and iHeart Radio.

After three decades cooking in kitchens at some of the most esteemed restaurants on the world, Chef Scamardella divides his time between his home base in New York and Las Vegas where he oversees all daily menu and kitchen operations. His is a culinary vision that pairs old and new inspired by travels in Southeast Asia combined with classical French training and nostalgic Italian roots (His father grew up in Naples, Italy.)


TAO Group_Corporate Executive Chef and Partner_Ralph Scamardella
Ralph Scamardella, Chef/Partner, The TAO Group

Hot restaurants. Even hotter cities New York-Las Vegas-Sydney.  According to the unofficial 2014 RB rankings (from Restaurant Business magazine), TAO Asian Bistro in Las Vegas was the highest-grossing independent restaurant in America with $64.6 million in sales in 2013. LAVO Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas ranked 5th, and TAO New York at 7th.

OK, what are we talking about? 20 restaurants and nightclubs. To name a few: LAVO Italian Restaurants, TAO Uptown, TAO Downtown, Dream Downtown and Arlington Club (all NYC); LAVO at The Palazzo, TAO and TAO Beach at The Venetian, Marquee Nightclub and Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan (all in Las Vegas). Beautifully designed restaurants and bars populated with beautifully accentuated people.

TAO Las Vegas
TAO Las Vegas

We want to know: How do you keep the crowds coming, from moguls to rock stars to hip hoppers to brides-to-be? Consumers are fickle, and the nightclub crowd even more so. What’s the secret of The TAO Group? How does it find harmony with new generations of restaurant and club goers? How do you keep your concepts fresh?

And we want to know how in the crazy world of restaurants and nightclubs how Chef Ralph Scamardella finds his TAO (a life of harmony).- posted by Melanie Young

LAVO Nightclub Las Vegas
LAVO Nightclub Las Vegas



Join Melanie and David on The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesdays, 2pm ET on and anytime on iHeart
Join Melanie and David on The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesdays, 2pm ET on and anytime on iHeart

Tune in Wednesdays for The Connected Table LIVE on and any time on demand at (under Shows & Personalities). Each week Melanie Young and David Ransom bring you the dynamic people in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.

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The Connected Table LIVE! Visits with Rick Moonen March 11

Chef, restaurateur  and cookbook author, Rick Moonen, has been the country’s leading advocate for the sustainable seafood movement for the past 25 years, bringing national awareness to this subject near and dear to his heart. In 2013 USA Today named him one of Earth’s “Power Players” as one of five leaders helping the health of our planet.

Chef Rick Moonen
Chef Rick Moonen

He’s been featured on CNN, TODAY, Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, Dan Rather Reports, and many more.  His flagship restaurant, Rick Moonen’s rm seafood at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, showcase his commitment to sustainability without foregoing culinary creativity and innovation, and have been critically acclaimed by local and national press alike.

In June 2013, Chef Moonen transformed rm upstairs into Rx Boiler Room, a modern gastropub that showcases comfort food, redefined with Moonen’s signature twist. Rx Boiler Room was named Best New Restaurant of 2013 by Desert Companion magazine.