View Full Version : Famous Original Ray's Pizza
11-24-2001, 11:59 AM
Every block you walk down in Manhattan, you see another Famous Ray's Pizza or Original Ray's Pizza or Famous Original Ray's Pizza. Which one actually is the original? How did it get famous?
This may be incorrect, but from what I read nobody is sure who the original Ray was. Also, most of the (Famous/Original/Original Famous/Famous Original/etc) Ray's are not affiliated. Apparently, the naming invention just caught on as an odd NYC-ism; since there's so much competition between pizza places in NYC, anything you can do to give yourself an edge over the competition is welcomed.
It became famous for its pizza. But then that is just a guess.
11-24-2001, 02:46 PM
This was parodied in the Simpsons episode where the family goes to New York (it's not banned, Fox just gave a warning to syndicators on it). Waiting outside the World Trade Center, where his car is illegally parked, for the police officer to remove the boot from the wheel, he sees a pizza shop. He tries to get to the shop without moving from his car, which fails. The shop is called "Original Famous Ray's (not affiliated with Famous Original Ray's)."
11-24-2001, 05:27 PM
The real important question here is not which Ray's was first (that is, "original"), but which Ray's was the one that made the term so, well, "famous").
Research has shown that there were several pizza parlors going way back called Ray's; but, to my knowledge, none of them were "famous."
Things changed when the Ray's on 11th Street and 6th Ave. hit the scene around the 1960's. That particular Ray's gained a reputation for serving generously cheesy and saucy slices. So much so that lines would sometimes snake around the block. Their reputation grew far and wide such that others tried to pawn themselves off as "Ray's" too. The qualifiers that these pretenders used -- original, famous, first, etc. -- grew to being absurd, hence the jokes and cliches.
The 11th Street Ray's is still around, though their following seems to have diminished as thin-crust slices gained poularity in the 90's. I tried a slice there a year or two ago. Still pretty good.
11-24-2001, 06:55 PM
Luchese mobster Ralph (Raffie) Cuomo, (right) who founded the original Ray's Pizza in 1959 and still manages the place, is going to prison for using his landmark Prince Street pizzeria to sell heroin along with pies. from Here (http://www.ganglandnews.com/column98.htm)
That kind of publicity would make you somewhat "famous."
11-24-2001, 08:53 PM
Amherst, an upscale suburb of Buffalo that just happens to have a ton of pizzerias, is in a similar fix. There's several pizzerias named "Bocce Club," and several others named "Bocce's," both with logos that use the same type of script.
11-24-2001, 11:12 PM
The Ray's at 6th Avenue and 11th street had fantastic pizza, one of the very best in the city. It was THE Ray's, just like stuyguy said. But a couple of years ago it started going downhill, and today the slices bear no resemblance to the Ray's of old.:( (However, all the rave newspaper clippings still adorn the walls). I don't know if there was a change of ownership or what.
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