28 January 2008

How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, Also The World-Famous Original Ray's New York Pizza Conspiracy

Nigel Tufnel: "And then, we looked at each other and said..."
David St. Hubbins: "Said, look, why not?"
Nigel: "...we might as well join up. You know?"
David: "So, we became the Originals."
Nigel: "Right."
David: "And, uh, we had to change our name, actually."
Nigel: "Well, there was another group, in the east end, called the Originals and we had to rename ourselves."
David: "the New Originals."
Nigel: "the New Originals."
David: "Yeah."
Nigel: "And they became..."
David: "...the Regulars. They changed their name back to the Regulars. And we thought we could go back to the Originals, but what's the point?"

Some of the worst pizza can be found in Manhattan. And most of it is sold at "Ray's". Namely, the 238th "World-Famous Original Ray's" on the corner of St. Marks and 3rd Avenue.

Now, I'm no fool. I realise most of the Italian spots I frequent have their share of Guatemalans and Montezumians working in the kitchen and that's fine with me because they can cook better than I can, that's for sure, but I can't take these Original Ray's anymore and they're absolutely everywhere! And none of them are famous and none of them are original for anything except lousy pizza. Yes, lousy!

For a pizza place to be good, they need to sell pizza, and that's it. Not bagels and pizza. Not falafel and pizza. Not lox, salmon, cold cuts, deli salads and pizza. Ten times out of ten when a place tries to do the Mexican-Chinese-Italian-Middle Eastern thing, they excel at nothing and all the foods suffer and suck. Do pizza, do it right and shut the fuck up.

In New York it seems theres a World-Famous Original Ray's on every goddamn corner and it's the biggest sham this side of the Mississippi because these places do not form a franchise and are most often completely independent of each other even though they all look exactly the same and they're all called some variation of "World-Famous Original Ray's Pizza"!

Now, we all know tourists are notoriously naive. And if they aren't on the 4 train yelling across to each other about how much cash they've got in their wallets, they're busy eating some bad pizza from an "Famous Original Ray's" and taking photos of themselves like "Woo! Here we are at this bastion of New York City's world famous culinary lexicon"

I suppose its a brilliant scam by whoever started opening up these satellite wanna-be pizza spots but the pizza is disgusting and it's sending people back to Michigan and Utah with the wrong idea about New York pizza and it needs to stop!

There are only TWO Ray's in New York City proper that can be considered "world famous" or "original" or "world famous and original".

The oldest of the current Ray's Pizzas was opened by Raffie "Ray" Cuomo of Little Italy at 27 Prince Street in 1959 near the country's first ever pizzeria, Lombardi's.

27 Prince

Cuomo's pizzeria was probably better known for serving something other than pizza. Cuomo was sentenced to four years in prison in 1998 for running a heroin ring out of the pizzeria with the Lucchese's. HOLLA! Now out of jail he still operates the restaurant. He has never taken credit for the boom in the Ray's Pizzas. He does display articles in the restaurant noting that his is the oldest existing restaurant of that name.

The spur for "a Ray's on every corner" in the 1970's, was Ray's at 6th Avenue and 11th Street owned by two brothers who immigrated from a town named Roio del Sangro in the Abruzzi region of Italy. The marquee now has in big letters "The Famous Ray's Pizza" and in smaller letters "Famous Ray's of Greenwich Village." It served a thick "eat it with a fork" slice which overtook New York in the ensuing years for a time making a classic thin-crusted New York street slice difficult to find. Take that, Klum!

All the others simply poached the name "Ray's" and ran with it. They have no known affiliation with these two O.G. spots!

6th Ave and 11th street

There was a Ray's avalanche in 1980's and 90's and as of 2007 there were at least 35 fucking pizza places by some variant of that name as noted by the telephone directory.

Ray's Pizza pizzerias were so numerous that one pizzeria owner opted to name his pizzeria "Not Ray's Pizza."

The lunacy and ubiquity of "Ray's Pizza" restaurants in New York City, and the similarity of their names, has been spoofed all over pop culture from The Simpsons to Seinfeld.

I've been all over God's green and I'll tell you that the pizza in Italy sucks and save for a few spots, the pizza in Manhattan isn't much better. The boroughs took the torch and ran and that's where all the good pizza is hiding.

Generic, nasty, Times Square's very own "Original Ray's"



GRODY! (Note: stains on wall, proudly posing with take-out bag like it's some big deal she had a slice served up by a Tobagonian)



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