Thursday, September 12, 2013

09/12 Morgen McLaughlin, Santa Barbara County Vitners, Frank Pellegrino, Rao's


Morgen McLaughlin is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association a nonprofit membership organization representing over one hundred wineries in Santa Barbara County, California.  Previously she was the president and CEO of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, a regional tourism marketing association in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and owned and managed a small vineyard and winery in Connecticut.  Morgen has undergraduate degrees in English and Secondary Education from Boston College and is completing her Wine Business Management Certificate from Sonoma State University.  In her free time Morgen enjoys hiking, cooking, traveling, wine and spending time with her husband and three sons.

California Wine Month in September celebrates one of our signature industries and all that vintners and growers bring to the economy, culture and lifestyle of the Golden State.Wineries and regions throughout the state mark the month with special tastings, events and offers.


The West Hollywood Rao’s location opens on September 17th at 1006 Seward Avenue, Los Angeles, CA.

Rao's is a Southern Italian restaurant founded in 1896 and located at 455 East 114th Street (at Pleasant Avenue) in East Harlem, New York City, with a sister restaurant in Las Vegas, NV.

The restaurant was started in 1896 by Charles Rao, who moved with his parents from Italy to the United States. He bought a small shop in Italian Harlem, once a very large Italian-American community, and ran the restaurant until his death in 1909. Louis Rao took over the business. He was seen by many as a very suave man. He had his hair cut at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and wore many fancy suits. Current co-owner Frank Pellegrino describes those days as "the days of big Cadillacs and usually convertibles." He was much more conservative in behavior and looks and refined the menu into a more simple Italian menu, with the help of "Aunt Jake." After Vincent Rao's death in 1999, it was taken over by Frank Pellegrino, Anna Pellegrino Rao's nephew, and Ronald Straci, another close relative. Anna Pellegrino-Rao refined the menu even more with the help of Vincent and she is the source of the menu's identity today.

On December 6, 2006, Rao's opened a second restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada, under executive chef Carla Pellegrino, with two ten-table rooms and additional seating available on an outdoor garden patio.

In early 2009, Rao's in Las Vegas opened a bocce bar outside and began offering bocce lessons and cocktails there.  Rao's now sells products in gourmet markets and supermarkets. Products include pasta products and sauce as well as olive oil.