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Hot Spot: Baldoria

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ALL IN THE FAMILY
An off-shoot of Rao’s, the 104-year-old East Harlem Italian restaurant legendary (some would say notorious) for its A-list diners and exclusivity, this new joint is jumping, thanks in part to its Sopranos connection. Baldoria’s owner is Frank Pellegrino Jr., son of Rao’s owner Frank Sr., who has a recurring role as an FBI bureau chief on the HBO series.

TAKE THE CANNOLI!
Reservations? Credit cards? Open on weekends? Menus? Such irritating restaurant conventions have always been verboten at Rao’s; Baldoria (which means “festivity” in Italian) welcomes all of them.

STAR GRAZING
Along with various cast members of The Sopranos, natch, count on seeing bolded names like Sony Music honcho Tommy Mottola (who is such a fan of Rao’s, he had Sony release a CD of the restaurant’s swing jukebox a few years back), Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, and Gloria Estefan. Sex and the City‘s Chris Noth recently slipped in, unaccompanied, to see the new joint. What’s bringing Hollywood into Baldoria? Says Woody Allen, ”It’s the best Italian food in New York, and no one takes care of you like the Pellegrinos.” Clearly, an offer that can’t be refused.

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