New York

Thrillist Ghost Kitchen Launches With First-Time-Ever Takeout and Delivery From Iconic NYC Restaurants

A stellar lineup of legendary eats and limited-edition swag kicks off December 9 with Rao's.

Rao's signature house salad, meatballs, penne marinara, and double broiled lemon chicken. | PHOTO BY COLE SALADINO FOR THRILLIST
Rao’s signature house salad, meatballs, penne marinara, and double broiled lemon chicken. | PHOTO BY COLE SALADINO FOR THRILLIST
Rao’s signature house salad, meatballs, penne marinara, and double broiled lemon chicken. | PHOTO BY COLE SALADINO FOR THRILLIST

Most New Yorkers live in tiny apartments, which is part of the reason spending much of their time at restaurants is so meaningful-for regulars, those spaces often become extensions of their own living or dining rooms. At the onset of COVID-19 this spring, those spaces were shuttered virtually overnight because of government mandates, leaving restaurants with few options: close, or quickly adapt to offering takeout and delivery only. During this time, large restaurants and small eateries alike fought to stay open by downsizing their staff and working in leaner operations, morphing from the beloved dining destinations where New Yorkers spent so much time to ghost kitchens-where skeleton staff churned out reduced menus for to-go customers only.

Whether it was to serve frontline workers, furloughed restaurant staff, the food insecure, or regular customers, many restaurants boldly stayed open despite the circumstances. Thrillist captured the ingenuity and heart of ghost kitchens emerging all over the country this spring through our docu-series, Ghost Kitchen. And since then, ghost kitchens have become a vital business model in the age of COVID-19 for restaurateurs everywhere.

With so many restaurants continuing to struggle due to COVID-19, Thrillist Ghost Kitchen returns on December 9, but with a more comprehensive program that includes direct collaboration with NYC restaurants. In partnership with Zuul, the expert in ghost kitchen systems and technology, Thrillist will team up with 10 landmark restaurants in NYC to offer takeout and delivery of their iconic and most exclusive dishes. And because of all of the financial hardships restaurants have already endured this year, Thrillist will cover all costs including food, labor, packaging, and delivery.According to Thrillist’s Chief Content Officer, Meghan Kirsch: “Our ambition is to continue offering our passionate audience the experiences they crave while helping the community endure this unprecedented time.”

From December 9 to April of 2021, through two-week residencies in a specially designed ghost kitchen in SoHo, a selection of Thrillist-approved and curated restaurants will prepare signature items for takeout (from 30 Vandam Street) and delivery on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. With a delivery zone from downtown Manhattan to 96th Street, Thrillist Ghost Kitchen will offer delivery from these NYC culinary institutions-and for some Manhattan areas, it will be for the first time ever.

And to further celebrate this exclusive access-and also as an homage to drop culture-every Thrillist Ghost Kitchen delivery will include limited-edition swag custom designed and inspired by the restaurant. Along with their food, recipients can expect a special kit containing a t-shirt designed by a local artist, along with an insulated branded bag, eco-friendly reusable cutlery set, and portable wine tumbler.Thrillist Ghost Kitchen kicks off its stellar lineup of 10 restaurants with Rao’s, the legendary East Harlem eatery. Established in 1896, in addition to being NYC’s oldest restaurant that’s remained in its original location and owned by descendants of its founding family, Rao’s is also known as one of the city’s most impossible-to-book restaurants. With only six booths and four tables in its dining room, its 114th Street and Pleasant Avenue location has long been a sought-after spot since 1977, when a three-star review from New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton put Rao’s on the must-try list of food enthusiasts everywhere. Since then, with the majority of the restaurant’s seating reserved for their longtime regulars, Rao’s Southern Italian food and dining experience has been one of mythical proportions few have experienced, but many have fantasized about.

But due to COVID-19, like every restaurant in NYC, Rao’s has also had to adapt to the times. Before the pandemic, closing the restaurant was rare and only done on occasions such as the passing of family members. The restaurant continued the tradition of staying open for business after closing for a single day in mid-March. “We closed on Monday, and we [re]-opened on Tuesday,” says co-owner Ron Straci, “and we’ve been open ever since.”

Because of the small size of their restaurant space, since indoor dining was allowed to resume back in September at 25% capacity, Rao’s has opted not to reopen their renowned East Harlem dining room just yet, and outdoor seating isn’t offered as well. And prior to COVID-19, while the restaurant had previously offered takeout on a limited basis for special events, this is the first time Rao’s has been operating as a takeout-only spot. Beyond Rao’s Homemade, their popular line of pasta sauces and cooking products that launched in 1991, Thrillist Ghost Kitchen will not only be the first time the majority of New Yorkers can get a taste of Rao’s famed cooking, but also the first time to do so through delivery.

In addition to Rao’s, additional restaurants participating in Thrillist Ghost Kitchen include Sylvia’s, Chinese Tuxedo, Caracas Arepa Bar, Milu, and more. Starting on December 9, Rao’s special menu will feature signature items like their house salad, Rao’s meatballs, penne marinara, and double broiled lemon chicken (pictured above); all available for takeout and delivery through Thrillist Ghost Kitchen.Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.

Tae Yoon was born and raised in Queens, and is the Editor of Thrillist New York.

New York

Scavenge for Peeps Cookies and More Fun Treats in NYC This Easter

The best Easter desserts in NYC this spring include Easter Bunny Churros and Carrot Cake Macarons.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

As spring makes its way through New York City, not only do we get to enjoy beautiful weather, stunning cherry blossoms, and cool activities priced at $Free.99, but it’s also the perfect time for some limited-edition desserts.

With Easter fast approaching, bakeries are filling their shops with tons of chocolate eggs, carrot cake-flavoured everything and all types of flavours that offer both nostalgia and innovation within the city’s dessert landscape. After you’ve picked up a cake from the city’s best new bakeries, from Easter Bunny Churros to Carrot Cake Macarons, here are 8 Easter desserts to try in NYC right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Throughout April
Various locations
There’s great news for devotees of Magnolia Bakery’s Classic Banana Pudding: For Easter, the spot is mixing up the iconic dessert’s vanilla pudding with some carrot cake. The Carrot Cake Pudding is filled with freshly grated carrots, coconuts, pineapples, raisins, and walnuts. And if both bananas and carrots aren’t your thing, they’ll be offering their Classic Vanilla Cupcakes in pastel colours with a Cadbury chocolate egg hidden inside.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

Funny Face Bakery

Through Easter Sunday
NoHo and Seaport
Known for their celebrity face and meme-worthy decorated cookies, fans of Funny Face Bakery know that a new fun design is always just around the corner. For Easter, they’ve created the adorable Hoppy Easter decorated cookie that resembles a classic box of marshmallow Peeps. Along with that, they also have the return of their fan-favourite Caramel Pretzel Chip cookie flavour, plus a set of three mini-decorated cookies perfect for gifting.

The Doughnut Project

Friday, April 7 through Easter Sunday
West Village
With the ever-changing flavours at The Doughnut Project, it’s super easy to miss out on trying out a new debut. But this Easter weekend, there will be two new flavours available. One is of course, a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cream cheese glaze, and the other is known as the Doughnut Nest-a French cruller “nest” with a cream-filled doughnut hole “egg” in the centre.

Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour

The Fragile Flour

Wednesday, April 5 through Easter Sunday
East Village
For stellar vegan desserts this holiday, head to The Fragile Flour, a plant-based bakery and dessert wine bar. They’re known for going all out for each holiday with a variety of new pastry options that you can pair perfectly with a glass of wine. This Easter, they’ll have a whole dessert menu that’s both delicious and gorgeous for posting on IG. The menu includes Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Lemon Cake (whole or by the slice), some festive cupcakes, and specialty macarons.

Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Through mid April
Midtown
For a luxurious take on Easter chocolates, browse the selections available at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. You can even pick the Easter Signature Chef’s Selection for a special box curated by award-winning chefs. For something other than chocolate, choose between the Carrot Cake Macarons or the cake flavored Easter Marshmallow Trio, both of which are almost too cute to eat.

La Churreria

Throughout April
Nolita
This churro-centric spot is putting the cutest Easter spin on their crispy cinnamon churros by twisting them up into bunnies and bunny ears. At Churreria, choose from a Bunny Churro Lollipop topped with your choice of chocolate or dulce de leche and sprinkles, or the bunny ear churros in the Ube and Matcha ice cream sundae or the Ube Milkshake, both of which are made with ice cream from il laboratorio del gelato.

Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci

Lafayette

Throughout April
NoHo
You’ve surely seen this croissant tons of times while scrolling through IG or TikTok, whether it’s the Pain au Chocolat one or the latest of the month. Known as Supr√™mes, these filled croissants went viral and continue to live up to the hype each time a new flavour comes out. April’s flavour-sour cherry amaretto with a Luxardo custard and toasted almonds. While you’ll have to be super early and wait in line during one of their three drops of the day to get a taste, we promise you it’ll be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain

Levain

Seasonal
Various locations
We all know the iconic cookies from Levain-they’re gigantic, perfectly crispy and chewy, and well worth the long lines. For spring, the shop is launching a new flavour: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip. Filled with gooey caramel chips, fresh shredded coconut, and melty dark chocolate, it’s one you’ve got to try while it’s still around. To further celebrate the new season, all of Levain’s storefronts will be decked out in spring floral displays, serving as the perfect backdrop for pictures.

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Alaina Cintron is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Her work can also be found in Westchester Magazine, Girls’ Life, and Spoon University. When she’s not at her desk typing away, you can find her exploring a local coffee shop or baking a new recipe.

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