Greenwich Village Landmark Famous Ray's Pizza Closes

P1010690x.jpg
Newspapers went up in the windows of Famous Ray's overnight.


Arguably the most famous of the endless iterations of pizza parlors named Ray's in the city, Famous Ray's of Greenwich Village gave up the ghost over the weekend.


P1010691x.jpg
The sign says it all.


A handwritten sign in the window cited a rent increase and consequent loss of their lease, and colorful international newspapers salvaged from the newsstand across the street, told the story.

Located at the busy corner of Sixth Avenue and West 11th Street, Famous Ray's was founded in 1973, probably the earliest of the competing pizza parlors named Famous Ray's, Original Famous Ray's, Famous Original Ray's, etc. All were presumably inspired by Ray's Pizza on Spring Street, as recently chronicled in Eater.

Though the pizza was decidedly mediocre, it was a real neighborhood joint, beloved of students across the street at P.S. 41, and a pit stop for people visiting Greenwich Village from Westchester and New Jersey. This sort of neighborhood pizza parlor has become nearly obsolete under the onslaught of gilt-edge pizza parlors that have come to dominate the pie trade in the neighborhood.

Famous Ray's had the dubious distinction of being included in Fork in the Road's Five Worst Slices.


P1010693x.jpg
Mediocre pizza, but sad nonetheless


Like this post? Take a gander at the rest of our blog.


Follow us on Twitter if you dare:
@robertsietsema [Robert Sietsema]
@chantytown [Chantal Martineau]
@ldshockey [Lauren Shockey]
@ForkintheRoadVV

My Voice Nation Help
23 comments
Maurice Couture
Maurice Couture

I had been coming to Rays since the 70's $1.00 a slice I live in DC, and everytime I come to NYC I make it my business to go to Ray's. I have a picture of Ray's on my wall at home. I heard Ray's had closed, but no one knew which one, since there are so many Ray's. I was hoping it was not mine. I coming to NYC next week, and had planned to stop in, as usual....Then I came across this article! I'm bummed! I thought Ray's had the best cheese slice around. Nothing fancy or gourmet, just a good ole NYC slice...

Timothy Fosket
Timothy Fosket

Up to the 80's, this Rays was the king! Each slice weighed about a pound, with all the cheese on it. There was always a long line to get in. However after it got new ownership around 1985, its been a steady decline. Last time there a few years ago, it was totally horrendous. No surprise it closed.

Jaypepin35
Jaypepin35

Does anybody know if the current owner is opening a new Rays somewhere else?

After39years
After39years

Going to Rays in the Village since moving to NY in 1980. Great pizza and great memories! Devastated when I saw it had closed. Will truly miss this place

Jwstarr99
Jwstarr99

I went to Nyu in the 70s and lived in the village 26 years after thatRays rocked!!It was the best cheesiest pizza!Always piping hot!The place was so coolGreat place to people watchOpen so lateYou could sit there and clear your head and dig your pizza and people were always friendly!!!!It will be so missed!!!Thanks for the swell memories

drdarke
drdarke

Famous Ray's of Greenwich Village had some of the best pizza ever - WTF do you mean?

Cashewfilms
Cashewfilms

This was the best pizza I ever had. How dare Robert Sietsema call it ​Mediocre pizza.

Guy Fawkes2012
Guy Fawkes2012

This was the place I had my first slice of NYC pizza. Coming from TN in the early 80's I had heard about the pizza and the street dogs, I guess everybody has their favorite and their reasons for it being their favorite. I would go to this place after drinking, I would come here hung over, I would go when I was happy, and when I was down. I came here after 911 for a slice of comfort and to look at the pictures of those who died that terrible day. This is the pizza shop that supplied the pizza for the Lindberg Pizza Run. Apparently profit is more important to the land lords that community continuity. @victorherbert, to each his own, except in your case. You know it all better than anybody else, let me guess, your probably a republican or a teaparty coolaid drinker.

NYCresident
NYCresident

This pizza was not mediocre, it was simply wonderful and beloved by many.  The guy writing for "Fork in the Road" had no idea what he was talking about, as the cheese was clearly dairy, and this was the was the only "Famous Ray's of Greenwich Village."

gatolechon
gatolechon

Believe it or not, the pizza that they make a CostCo is very similar to Ray's. I live far away from NYC now, but grew up around the corner from Ray's and attended PS41, and ate at Ray's thousands of times. I will miss it.  I am crying inside and hungry. So, every time I have CostCo pizza, I am reminded of Ray's Pizza.  

pizza guy
pizza guy

mediocre my ass -- greenwich village ray's rocked -- while the slices were nowhere near as large as they were in the 70s -- when lines would snake around the block to get some -- this still was a great cheese pizza -- always my fave pizza place in the city, i am stunned and saddened by its closure :(

fuzzneko
fuzzneko

This was the one place where you could always get a warm slice. They kept the plain pizza warm on top of the oven so it never had to be reheated. It was open late too. It was one of my favorite cheesy slices. I'm sad to see it go. 

Simplefolk Says
Simplefolk Says

I don't have a sophisticated palate like the bourgeois jerks from the Village Voice (in reference to"decidedly mediocre pizza") so I'm gonna miss this place.  They gave you lots and lots of cheese.  I have so many memories...so much cheese.

Psgordon
Psgordon

Ray's was all about the cheese. I was always amazed when people ordered slices with extra cheese. They also put additional cheese on top of the extra topping you ordered. It's not just the rent that made them close. People's tastes have changed. The Artichoke slice brings lines to their store.

FotoDogue
FotoDogue

The City needs commercial rent control or there won't be any small businesses left.

Rsietsema
Rsietsema

You're right, but we'll have businesses, all right -- fast-food franchises from out of town on every corner.

zenexpat
zenexpat

Shame. There are so many landmarks being lost thanks to greedy landlords. Another casualty of late is Patsy's, up in Harlem (old Little Italy).

They were struggling to pay the increased rents so failed to pay their water bill to the tune of $150k. The utility co took out a lien and was about to close them down, Coca Cola to the rescue but now they are going to franchise Patsy's nationally and have sadly placed Coke banners all over the restaurant. After 85+ years it is no longer an independent NY insitution.   

Victorherbert
Victorherbert

New York pizza sucks and I (and only I) know why - captive audience.  In the suburbs, where I grew up, people have cars and will try all the pizzerias before deciding on the best - hence, competition, hence better ingredients, more care, possibly better pizza makers (not illegal Mexicans who probably weren't even allowed in their mama's kitchen).  Who in NYC will travel more than a few blocks to get a slice of pizza?

Revenant
Revenant

Ah, an informed opinion from a real New Yorker which, these days, means being too cool and too savvy for New York.  Has it ever occurred to you that someone who saw New York before The Fall (of which you are a part), can tell what's good and what's bad at a glance with over 90% accuracy?  Yeah, you and the swarms of self-congratulatory, convenience obsessed Nouvea Yorkers won't walk more than a few blocks.  

This isn't even some "old timer" thing, by the way.  I was a kid when New York was first getting the cancer that killed it, not long ago, but we've still got plenty more good pizza than the Papa John's crap of your childhood memories.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...