Friday, December 19, 2008

Famous Original Ray's Pizza (New York, NY)

Famous Original Ray's Pizza
1710 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
Fri 12/19/2008, 12:40p-12:55p

When I think of New York food, the first thing that springs to mind is pizza. Thus, in my limited time here, I wanted to make sure to experience this quintessential staple.

I had heard about the dozens of "Ray's Pizza" places throughout Manhattan ("a Ray's on every corner"). These restaurants are supposedly "famous" for their pizza, but strangely do not seem to form any single franchise. The oldest Ray's was founded in 1959 in Little Italy by Ralph (Raffie) Cuomo, while the Ray's I visited claims to have been established in 1964, and has eight locations throughout the borough.

Upon entering, you place your order at the counter. Since I'd partaken in a Woody Allen at Carnegie Deli just minutes earlier, I limited myself to a single slice. It was interesting to note that all the pizza was sitting out initially, and then was placed in the oven to cook upon ordering.

We proceeded to the upstairs dining area, away from the hustle and bustle of the ground floor. The space was surprisingly empty.

Here we see the menu. Though Ray's is most known for its pizza, a wide array of other items are available, including soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and various Italian-style dishes. Click for larger versions.

Combo Slice (any two toppings) with Pepperoni and Sausage [$4.50]
So how was the pizza? Not bad, though not outstanding. The crust was nicely thin and crisp, with a mild flavor (in addition to the standard crust, Sicilian and Pan styles are available as well). The mozzarella cheese was fairly nondescript, as was the pepperoni. The sausage was a bit funky, however, with somewhat of a strange sourness.

All in all, a decent pizza, though nothing special. I think next time I'm in New York, I'll need to check out the real "original" Ray's on Prince and Mott and see how that one fares.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember trying to find the "original" Rays Pizza in NYC... golly (can't believe it but)... almost 20 years ago! I don't think I ever did... Now I know! : )

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 7:38:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Yeah, you wouldn't find out without doing some research. I bet most New Yorkers don't even know the story behind Ray's!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

Heh, even the various Ray's doesn't know the story behind Ray's (though they all have their theories).

I lived in NYC for 10 years, and in my experience all of the various "Ray's" pizzerias were utterly average at best. The serious places (usually with coal-fired ovens) were:

John's Pizzeria - 278 Bleecker St. (between 6th and 7th Aves.)

Lombardi's - 32 Spring St. (between Mott and Mulberry Sts.)

Patsy Grimaldi's - 19 Old Fulton St. (between Front and Water Sts., at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge)

Totonno Pizzaria - 1524 Neptune Blvd. (between 15th and 16th Sts., on Coney Island)

BTW, anyone with a serious interest in NYC pizza may be interested in the Pizza Tour of Brooklyn -

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 5:44:00 AM  
Blogger Geoff said...

BTW, if you can visit just one pizzeria in NYC, I would suggest Patsy Grimaldi's:

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 5:47:00 AM  
Blogger H. C. said...

Yea, I visited one of the many Ray's on my last excursion -- the pizza was slightly above average though I do like the by-the-slice accessiblity compared to the whole pie nature of L.A.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Geoff: I was able to visit Lombardi's and the pizza was easily superior to Ray's. I've heard good things about all the other places as well. The Brooklyn Pizza Tour looks interesting, but how can they completely leave out Di Fara???

HC: Yeah I suppose convenience and ubiquity is the key at Ray's. I went to Lombardi's and they also sell by the pie only. I am curious about Joe's in LA...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 4:27:00 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

Kevin, glad you made it to Lombardi's. I'm not sure why the tour doesn't include Di Fara. They apparently just go to Grimaldi's and Spumoni's. I'm surprised they go all the way to Coney Island without a stop at Totonno's, though Totonno's is rather small.

Friday, January 02, 2009 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Perhaps Di Fara is missing due to the often atrocious wait times? But indeed, if they're going to Coney Island, Totonno's would seem like a no brainer.

Friday, January 02, 2009 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

Might also be due to Di Fara's checkered history with the Department of Health:

Monday, January 05, 2009 4:14:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Perhaps. I'd heard about the violations, though they don't seem to have distracted from business.

Monday, January 05, 2009 2:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rays on price street was never known for its pizza it more a restaurant the first rays was on 59 street and 1st avenue that place was closed but the same owner ray mangano who is the only one responsible and the only one that matters still continues his recipes and great pizza at Famous Original Ray's pizza

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

The way I understand it, the first Ray's was indeed established by Ralph "Ray" Cuomo in 1959, in Little Italy (on Prince St). Cuomo then opened a second branch uptown, only to sell it to Rosolino "Ray" Mangano in 1964, changing the name to Famous Original Ray's Pizza. Mangano then opened more of these pizzerias all over the City.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 4:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually to all these people that are wondering i work for ray mongano and this is the story to it. prince street rays pizza was first opened it was not famouse for pizza or even famous at all then ray mangano opened his store naming it famous original since he cant use the same name(copyright) i tasted pizza all over new york and newjersey and rays pizza is amazing not just saying this because i work there but the pizza is great plus after 30 minutes whatever is left over of the pie is thrown out to make it fresh again.... ray mangano is famous ray in the famous pizza business ralphie is the first ray but he made no difference

Thursday, December 31, 2009 10:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Willybee said...

Was never impressed with any of the various "Ray's", but can't remember having tried Mongano....Patsi Grimaldi's is decent, but I'll take Mr. Fascati's freshly-made-daily sauce the Heights on Henry Street, a block from the Bklyn. War Memorial Park near DUMBO, where Patsi's is, but HEY...long as you're in that nape of the neck, among my two favorite places in the universe at the foot of the BB: The River Cafe, and Bargemusic...both floating on the water with glass sides and the best view of Downtown Manhattan Skyline...The River ($$$+) has launch service to Wall Street; Olga's Barge($+) is mostly Chamber Music with one Jazz night...visiting World-Class Musicians doing Carnegie Hall relax there...
Nearly got dragged into a fist and knife fight over a new joint around the corner from a house I just bought in Oregon, the Owner was trading insults with a Competitor from across town and claiming he was going to put his $#$%**sorry ass out of business 'cause he uses fresh pineapple instead of the canned crap....Got pretty heated; as my mediocre pie was ready and I paid over their amateur cussing, the both wanted to "see what this Chink says"....Done tole 'em, "Hey lookit, I'm from F%##**Brooklyn, you @#$&**, and I think you're both f/u; MF&^#@* pineapple has no place on a F(&^#@**pizza....
Got outta there as a cleaver and shiv were being brandished....
Neither place lasted a year !!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010 6:18:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Ok, so Grimaldi and Fascati for pizza then. Bargemusic and River Cafe if I'm in Brooklyn.

But damn, quite a story you got there--almost being shived over pineapple on a pizza! I'm with you there though, pineapple has no place on a proper pie.

Friday, December 24, 2010 4:52:00 PM  

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