NYC - Greenwich Village: The Famous Ray's Pizza of Greenwich Village

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    Ray's Pizza...Ray's Original Pizza...Famous Ray's Pizza...World-Famous Original Ray's Pizza...Not Ray's Pizza. In 2006, there were 47 pizzeria's listed in the phone book with some variation of the Ray's name. However they are not a franchise or even necessarily connected in any way.

    The oldest of the current Ray's was opened by Ralph Cuomo at 27 Prince Street in 1959 near the country's first pizzeria, Lombardi's. Cuomo is more infamously known for serving something other than mozzarella and tomato, though. In 1998, he was sentenced to four years for fronting a heroin ring with the Lucchese crime family.

    The spur for "a Ray's on every corner" in the 1970s, 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 marquis now has in big letters "The Famous Ray's Pizza" and in smaller letters "Famous Ray's of Greenwich Village."

    Mario DiRienzo, the former owner, had this explanation for the name: "It's a small town I come from. Although I am a Mario, in Roio I am also a Ray. The name Ray is a nickname for the family name of Di Rienzo. Every family has a nickname in my town. Someone asks, 'Did you see Mario?' and there are so many Marios in town you have to ask 'Which Mario?', so the answer is Mario Ray. And so my restaurant became The Famous Ray's Pizza. If it were The Famous Mario's, you would have to ask 'Which Mario?'" (NYT)

    Seinfeld, 9th season, "The Maid":

    Kramer: I miss home, and I don't even know how to get there.
    Jerry: What's around you?
    Kramer: I'm lookin' at Ray's Pizza. You know where that is?
    Jerry: Is it Famous Ray's?
    Kramer: No. It's Original Ray's.
    Jerry: Famous Original Ray's?
    Kramer: It's just Original, Jerry!

    paulbmckenzie, Redsiren, necoop104, and 11 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Harlem Music Hut 77 months ago | reply

      this place has great pizza. im from uptown harlem and it beats almost all others. worth the visit.

    2. Johnycque 76 months ago | reply

      John's on Bleeker is just a little better IMHO.

    3. Hot Pepper Dave 75 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Cafe's, Coffee Houses, Burger Joints, Food Carts., and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    4. iCyclops 75 months ago | reply

      I walked past this corner a hundred times when I lived in NYC. I even ate there a couple times. It wasn't "the best"..... fine in a pinch, though.

    5. Laela j. 68 months ago | reply

      Sorry, but nothing beats Sal's pizza in Mamaroneck- Westchester county :D
      But ray's is right up there ;)

    6. The Pug Father 67 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called I ♥ Pizza, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    7. GrayStall 54 months ago | reply

      Love Pizzerias! I was cruising around looking for photos of New York City for my high school art students to draw observational pieces from. My students are from China so I wanted to throw something different at them...thanks for giving me something awesome to show! Hope this is okay...

      Maybe I can post some of their drawings for your viewing pleasure!

    8. nancybl 33 months ago | reply

      Hi WallyG,

      Love this photo of Ray's Pizza. I'm so glad I found this because I used it to illustrate my experience at a recent WordCamp NYC conference. We ended up eating at Ray's.

      I gave you credit for the photo and provided a link back to your Flickr photostream.

      In case you'd like to see the post:

      WordCamp NYC 2012 - an excellent adventure.

      Nancy L.

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