Ray's Pizza

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First Ray's Pizza, at 27 Prince Street on the northern edge of Little Italy, Manhattan
Famous Ray's was at Sixth Avenue and 11th Street in Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Ray's Pizza, and its many variations such as "Ray's Original Pizza", "Famous Ray's Pizza" and "World-Famous Original Ray's Pizza", are the names of dozens of pizzerias in the New York City area that are generally completely independent (a few have multiple locations) but may have similar menus, signs, and logos.


Ralph Cuomo opened the first Ray's Pizza, at 27 Prince Street in Little Italy, in 1959, named after his nickname "Raffie". In the 1960s he briefly owned a second Ray's Pizza,[1][2] but sold it to Rosolino Mangano in 1964.[1] Mangano kept the name and later claimed that his was the first.[1][2][3] In 1973, Mario Di Rienzo named his new pizzeria Ray's Pizza (which is now closed) after, he claimed, the nickname for his family in Italy. Also that year, Joseph Bari purchased a pizzeria from Mangano and renamed it, and several others, as Ray Bari Pizza. By 1991, dozens of pizzerias in New York City had "Ray's" in their name, as well as those in other American states.[3][1]

In 1981, Gary Esposito purchased a pizzeria from Mangano. After opening several more "Original Ray's" restaurants, he partnered with Cuomo and Mangano to combine independent "Ray's" restaurants into an official franchise chain.[3][1] As of 2011 there were at least 49 restaurants by some variant of that name in the New York City telephone directory,[4] including one named Not Ray's Pizza.[3]

The first Ray's Pizza closed its doors on Sunday, October 30, 2011, following a legal dispute over rent and a lease that followed its owner's death in 2008.[5][6] Half of the space that once housed Ray's Pizza has been leased to a new company, Prince Street Pizza.[7] Meanwhile, Famous Ray's Pizza on Sixth Avenue and 11th Street (pictured), which had served pizza since the 1970s, closed down in 2011,[8] reopened under the name "Famous Roio's Pizza" in 2012,[8] and closed again in 2013. A Chinese restaurant now occupies the space.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

The confusion of various Ray's Pizzas is featured in a gag in 1997 Simpsons episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson." While waiting for a traffic officer beside the World Trade Center, Homer spots a pizza parlour named "Original Famous Ray's (Not Affiliated With Famous Original Ray's)."[10]

In the episode "The Caste System" in the second season of Sex and the City, Miranda accompanies her boyfriend Steve to Famous Original Ray's Pizza located at 204 West 9th Avenue in Chelsea.[11]

In the 2003 film Elf, Santa Claus tells Buddy the Elf, "Second, there are, like, 30 Ray's Pizzas. They all claim to be the original, but the real one's on 11th."[12]

In the 2008 film Iron Man, Obadiah Stane brings Tony Stark Ray's Pizza back from his business trip to New York.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Tierney, John (March 25, 1991). "In a Pizza War, It's 3 Rays Against the Rest". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Wilson, Michael (September 17, 2011). "Ray's Pizza, the First of Many, Counts Down to Its Last Slice". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Lurio, Eric (May 11, 2009). "Fifty Years: The Legend of Ray's Pizza". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  4. ^ "Pizza Ray in New York, NY with Reviews". Yellowpages.com. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  5. ^ Wilson, Michael (October 24, 2011). "Ray's Pizza, 'the' Ray's Pizza, Will Close on Sunday". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Swalec, Andrea (December 5, 2011). "Famous Ray's Pizza in Village to Be Taken Over By Another Ray's". DNA Info. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013.
  7. ^ Kuban, Adam. "Square Up at Prince Street Pizza in Soho". slice.seriouseats.com. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Norwick, Hannah (April 18, 2012). "Famous Ray's on Sixth Ave Reopens as Famous Roio's". Eater NY. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  9. ^ Morabito, Greg (November 27, 2013). "NYC Loses Iconic Pizzeria Space With Shuttering of Roio's". Eater NY.
  10. ^ The Simpsons, season 9 episode 1, "The City of New York V.S. Homer Simpson," at 11:36.
  11. ^ Lindsay (May 18, 2016). "Famous Original Ray's Pizza from "Sex and the City"". IAMNOTASTALKER. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  12. ^ "The quotable Santa Claus". The State Journal-Register. Springfield, Illinois: GateHouse Media. December 14, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  13. ^ Tony Stark & Obadiah Stane - Pizza Scene - Iron Man (2008) 4K Ultra, archived from the original on December 13, 2021, retrieved October 11, 2021

External links[edit]