Written by Fred Van Lente
Artwork by Cory Hamscher
Inks by Terry Pallott, Colors by Guru-eFX
Chef’s Note: Everyone’s heard of Ray’s Pizza
“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?'”
Also in 1973, a certain Joe Barri bought the Ray’s Pizza on 76th Street and Third Avenue, (later, he would change it to Ray Barri’s) this was decent pizza too, but Di Rienzo’s was amazing. It had almost, but not quite enough cheese to fall on your lap when you picked up a slice. Word went out and it became instantly legendary. For the “in crowd” Ray’s of 11th street was the only place to get a slice.
Rosalino decided to expand, so did Barri. Other people started renaming their places “Ray’s” to cash in on the hoopla. Soon, you had Ray’s pizzas on almost every block. Famous Ray’s, Original Ray’s, Famous Original Ray’s, Original Famous Ray’s, “Fred’s Ray’s” even a NOT Ray’s in Brooklyn. There were hundreds. At one point, Mangano owned 25 Famous Original Ray’s Pizza establishments, and his was just a tiny fraction of the “chain.”
By 1990, “Ray’s Pizza” was New York’s official in-joke.
Chef’s Note: Happy National Pizza Day!