Must Read: This $3 piece is NYC’s greatest pizza.
Original No matter what pizza snobs say, Ray’s Pizza still dominates. The local chainlet, with three Manhattan outlets, is the king of pies, the imperatore of all New York street cuisine.
The city’s famous pizzerias include Una Pizza Napoletana, which just returned to the Lower East Side after a two-year sabbatical. The Orchard Street location opened to “big cheese foodies” and celebrities, per Page Six.
I’m curious how many sprang for a $750 tasting menu. A pizza menu? In other words, Una Pizza Napoletana’s dough is “naturally leavened!”
For me, Ray’s is the best. Its sloppy, gooey $3.50 slice mocks more expensive variations.
Sure, it’s a joke. Seinfeld and Elf mocked its confusing history and the hundreds of eateries claiming to be “Ray’s”.
My affection for Ray’s “regular cheese” slice is almost sinful. Its elements represent culinary heresy in today’s artisanal world. In a temperature-controlled environment with Mozart and nature documentaries, the dough is not organically leavened for three weeks. These aren’t Californian and Italian tomatoes. The parmesan cheese, the only cheese on the basic slice, and the basic olive oil and garlic don’t have a compelling origin tale. (Thanks but no thanks for peppers, pepperoni, and pineapple).
That means a commercial gas oven, not a coal or wood oven. For example, Ray’s has no association with the Pizza Academy Foundation, which Kesté claims to be an “elite Italian governing organization teaching the 300-year-old art of Neapolitan pizza making.”
But nothing beats a hot Ray’s slice right out of the oven for me. In the past, I disliked the square Sicilian-style piece. This artichoke dip vessel masquerading as pizza is plenty for Paulie Gee’s hot honey drizzle and Two Boots’ cornmeal-crusted bottom.
Ray’s triangle slice is heaven-sent. A small sprinkle of no-name garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes adds to the delight. No other taste comparable. With just a few nibbles, the crust is soft enough to fold yet solid enough to prevent dripping. No need for cardboard-like boiling hot dogs or tacos with no edible insides.
Indulge in the bliss of My Ray. “Authenticity” is desired, even if Italians disagree on what it entails. They desire Vesuvian salt, sand, and rock ovens. They want upstate “artisanal” 00-grade flour, San Marzano tomatoes, and Italian cheeses.
They seek deep-dish “Chicago-style,” caramelized Detroit-style, Midwestern (whatever that means), and even Canadian varieties (maple syrup, if you ask).
Then the optics! Motorino’s blistering crust! See Rubirosa’s creepy green basil “Tie-Dye!” squiggle!
Spring is sprung. Ray’s time. Next sizzling, crackling slice on the packed sidewalk? So much for pompous king-makers.