Sunday, September 18, 2011

Original Ray's Pizza Serving its Last Slice in New York's Little Italy

I wrote about it at my old blog, and it's the funniest thing, but when my mom came to visit a few weeks back, she brought back a couple of the business cards we picked up in New York in 2007. She was using them for bookmarks. My son and I loved Airways Pizza in Queens. My mom also had a card for Dean's Pizzeria, in Manhattan, not far from the U.N. My son really liked that one. It was a little upscale and we were dressed casually. I asked my son if he wanted to go somewhere else and he said no, he liked Dean's and wanted to eat there. Anyway, I'm thinking of New York pizza again after reading the front-page story at NYT, "Ray’s Pizza, the First of Many, Counts Down to Its Last Slice":
It did not call itself the flagship Ray’s Pizza because it never really had a fleet. It was not Original Ray’s or Famous Ray’s or Original Famous Ray’s or Real Ray’s or Ray’s on Ice or any of the other cloned shops sprinkled like shredded mozzarella all over town. It was simply Ray’s Pizza, and in the great pizza wars of New York City, it was respected as having been the first, standing more or less above the fray at 27 Prince Street in Little Italy, with tree limbs holding up the basement ceiling and an owner whose name wasn’t even Ray.

And now, it seems, barring any surprises, Ray’s Pizza — the original that was so original it did not have the word “original” in its name — appears doomed to close at the end of the month.

This is not a popular topic at Ray’s right now.

“I don’t want you to put that this is the end,” said Helen Mistretta, the manager who, seven months before her 80th birthday, is in no mood for weepy nostalgia. “It’s the end of 27 Prince, not the end of Ray’s of Prince Street.”

The closing, long story short, follows a legal dispute among heirs with various interests in the building at 27 Prince, which includes apartments and the two sides of Ray’s: the pizzeria and an Italian restaurant, each with its separate entrance, but sharing a kitchen and the corporation name, Ray’s of Prince Street. When the Ray in Ray’s, one of the owners of the building, died in 2008, a row arose over whether the restaurant’s lease was valid and whether it should pay rent. A lawsuit was filed in 2009 and settled this year.

Now Ray’s Pizza is moving out amid a lot of head-shakes and shrugs and what-are-you-gonna-do Little Italy resignation.

You could say Ray’s on Prince Street kept to itself, perfectly content with its place in the constellation where others burned brighter. Just a block away, tourists line up on the sidewalk for a seat in Lombardi’s, waiting for a hostess wearing a microphone headset to call their names from loudspeakers. Wait for a pizza? This was not the Ray’s way, where pies come whole or by the slice, hot from the oven, enjoyed without hurry in a humble booth beneath a hand-painted “Ray’s Gourmet Pizza” board.

The closing of Ray’s would seem to remove from the neighborhood any vestige of the late Ralph Cuomo, its first owner, who once loomed large.
Keep reading.

My wife just walked in with pizza for dinner, from the local Lamppost, which is good, but nothing like New York pizza.

RELATED: At NYT, "New York’s Little Italy, Littler by the Year."

P.S. Checking the link to the old blog, turns out Repsac3 was commenting way back then. He wasn't banned. He might still be a commenter here had he not freaked out and turned stalker. I'll welcome progressives if they're cool. Repsac3 once was, but no longer. Too bad too. I had to go to moderation and all that.


repsac3 said...

I never changed, Douglas... You just ran out of talking points and ran for cover behind moderation. (And Don, if you're so afraid that too many folks will read my comments that you prohibit all from commenting at AmPow without your prior approval, that kinda shows what even you yourself believe about the value and virtue of your ideas.

If I were really the eeeeevil so-n-so you claim I am, wouldn't my own words prove that? So why do you hide my words, and instead paraphrase what you claim I've said (or what you think I may mean), rather than letting the readers see my comments as written?

You're a coward, Dr. Douglas...

But I'm glad you're standing up for the little pizza joint, this time... In that older post, it was "anti-capitalist" for the folks in the neighborhood to complain about the franchise running the mom 'n' pop shop out of the neighborhood. Glad to see you've come around to supporting the little guy, for once...

AmPowerBlog said...

Not afraid, obviously.

You're a stalker, RACIST = REPSAC3. You're banned and you continue to comment here against my wishes, because you have no values. Your obsession is sick and just too much. You don't get an American Power platform for your hate. Nothing sinks in for you, because you have no common sense, morality, or reason. And you're a liar. You created at hate blog that launched attacks on my livelihood. YOU are a sick man.