The Unbearable Banishment: case closed: the best pizza in new york city

Monday, July 6, 2009

case closed: the best pizza in new york city

A recent post about the best sneaker store in Brooklyn begat the question: “Where is the best pizza in town?” After an exhaustive, two-decade study, whereby hundreds of slices were consumed, I can affirm with unequivocal certainty that this…


…is the best pizza parlor in the city. It’s a tiny runt of a joint. Typically, the four or five tables are all occupied and you have to stand at the counter. But standing with a slice of Ray’s pizza beats the living hell out of sitting in any other parlor.

It’s on 11th Street and 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village. I’ve been going there since I arrived in New York as a young punk circa 1980. The fact that it’s still there and has stood the test of time should tell you something. And I don't want to hear any smack from anny a you fuggin' goombahs in Bay Ridge.

There are dozens of pizza parlors who all claim to be the "Original" Ray’s or the "Famous" Ray's. The urban legend I’ve always heard kicked around is that “Ray” is a derivative of the Italian Re for king. Hence, the King of Pizzas. Whatever. I can’t be certain this is, indeed, the “Famous” Ray’s, nor do I care. The fact is that there’s something about the cheese they use in concert with the texture of the crust that makes this:

THE BEST PIZZA IN NEW YORK.

* * *

There’s a somewhat famous Pizza joint on Bleecker Street called John’s. It’s in all the guide books. The pizza is decent and worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood. Many years ago, legend had it that it was frequented by Woody Allen. Once, I was standing at the urinal in the men's room and saw that someone had written “HI WOODY” on the wall at eye level. I thought of poor Woody Allen reading that while taking a piss and it made me laugh.

On another visit to John’s, Lou Reed and his then wife, Susan, came in and sat in the booth behind me.

19 Comments:

OpenID daisyfae said...

i once saw a local television news personality in Wal Mart. he had paper towels, little debbie snack cakes and a 6 pack of diet coke in his cart...

it'd be way cooler to hang out in NYC...

July 6, 2009 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

the best thing about this pizza place is if you're still hungry you can scarf down a gray's papaya hot dog which is just a few blocks away.

i met lou reed once at the 2nd ave movie theater. (the one by st. mark's)

i opened the door and as i was trying to exit a wave of people came in, so i waited and held the door for everyone, and then lou walked in. he said thank you by way of a nod of his head and a slight smile.

we were seeing bad santa.

i also met michael jackson when i used to work at village comics on bleecker street.

this being the village i naturally assumed it was some wack job impersonator. (he came in dressed in one of his sparkly general suits!) he had a small blond boy in tow and was buying all the expensive,top shelf, rare comic items the kid pointed at. word spread quickly and before you knew it the store was flooded with fans wanting autographs. mike had to hide out in the back store room until things quieted down.

there was a small blurb about the sighting on page 6 of the ny post the next day.

even though i was present for all the shenanigans i still don't believe it.

July 6, 2009 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

love that office episode where steve carrell vists ny and brags to the camera about grabbing an authentic ny slice....

and then he runs into a sbarro's!

July 6, 2009 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Bastard said...

Everytime I check out your blog I feel that magentic pull towards NYC. Now that's writing at its best!

July 6, 2009 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger sid said...

Sent the following link to a friend. She'll be in NY in a few days time. Hope you're right about the pizza.

July 7, 2009 at 4:05 AM  
Blogger cazz said...

mmm pizza - thanks, i'm taking your word for it and using an hour of my 26 hours in NY to sink my teeth into some heavenly yumminess. what is the name of the sneaker place, i'm looking for a pair of adidas campus (they don't sell them in south africa anymore :()

July 7, 2009 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: Did I sound like I was name-dropping to brag? So sorry. That was not my intention.

Jason: Please don’t tell me you wash down a slice of Ray’s with a gray's papaya hot dog. Celeb sightings NEVER get old, no matter how long you’ve lived here.

Jimmy: Perhaps I should work for the NYC Travel Commission. Thanks for the compliment, but the quality of my writing will never touch yours.

Sid: You should join her. It’s a helluva town.

Cazz: You can get a lot done in 26 hours in NYC. Do NOT sleep! Wait until you get back on the plane. Have fun. Bring cash.

July 7, 2009 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous popomatic Jeff said...

Ive had the pizza at that Rays and agree with you - its awesome!

July 7, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

@ UB

i'd wash down most anything with a gray's papaya dog.

July 7, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger FrankG said...

I guess if the cheese is the most important thing about your pizza, and you don't give a damn about anything except how full you are when you're done, then it's a good pizzeria.

I liked that Ray's when I was a constantly hungry teenager, but with all the really good stuff in town, this one does not make the cut.

Sorry, pal.

You want to read about pizza in a blog? Go to http://slice.seriouseats.com or http://www.passion-4-pizza.com.

July 7, 2009 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Blues said...

This post has been sheer torture for me to read. Do you know how much I could use a slice?

No slices here. Just personal sized pizzas that are maybe more authentic because we're nearer to Italy - whatever. I just want a slice from that place with more cheese than is even normal.

July 7, 2009 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Frank: A hick like me could never hope to develop the refined tastes that you have. By the way, I tried to click over to you blog but your profile is blocked. Do you have an eating disorder?

Blues: Sorry to torment you. Simple is better. This is a no-frills joint with no-frills slices that I’m in love with.

July 7, 2009 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger FrankG said...

Happy birthday!

It's not that my tastes are so refined -- it's that when you say, "Case Closed, The Best..." of anything, you've gotta be able to back it up.

Big difference between 'my favorite' and 'the best.'

And you can't get to my blog because I don't have one. For me, blogging is a spectator sport. I'm not important enough to think that people care about my writing.

July 8, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Tim Hall said...

Never dug that place, though of course i went there in a pinch. I always thought the old Joe's at carmine/bleecker was the absolute best. (The place that was used in the beginning of Spider-Man 2 for you non-new yorkers): joespizza.com

July 8, 2009 at 9:39 AM  
OpenID hereinfranklin said...

The best pizza I ever had was in Venice (a city I can otherwise take a pass on). It was served "con ovum" -- with an over-easy fried egg on top. It was beyond good.

And Happy Birthday too! Will you celebrate with a slice?

July 8, 2009 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Serena said...

Hey I thought its about case closed tv show. But this is also a nice blog... Thanks for sharing this..
If you wanna download all episodes of this show then go ahead and follow the link. Case Closed Download with all episodes with best quality only in a single click...

July 20, 2009 at 6:26 AM  
Anonymous watch Case Closed episodes said...

I was searching for the Case Closed tv show. But I found here article on "case closed: the best pizza in new york city". It is very nice article. You have written very good about new york. I want that you also add post about to Download Case Closed tv show. It will be useful for you....

November 10, 2009 at 3:54 AM  
Blogger justin said...

What a good post I have found here. Its good one really.

Watch TV Shows Online

October 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger justin said...

What a good post I have found here. Its good one really.

Watch TV Shows Online

October 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home