In New York there is an “Original” Ray’s Pizza at almost every city block. They all claim to be THE original location. The original was opened in Little Italy in New York City on Prince Street in 1959. The Ray’s Pizza name has been on different locales and in different States ever since. Most of the Ray’s Pizza locations are individually owned and operated still to this day. Sadly, the original location closed in 2011, but the name and the legacy of the Pizza shop continues on even today.
While each location is separate and will have subtle menu changes, overall the feel is the same. They have a small Italian menu, along with some standard side items. The one trait that is carried on through almost all locations is the ability to go in and get a quick slice of pizza at any time of day. They have several cooked pizza pies and when you order they will put it back in the extremely hot pizza oven to bring it back to a hotter serving temperature and in turn you will have a nice crisp bottom crust. You can also ask for a topping to be added to the slice, prior to the reheating, and make the slice that is already ready to another level.
We started off with an order of 12 BBQ Chicken Wings ($9.95). They are bone-in chicken wings and you can choose from a variety of different sauce options. They are cooked and then refried upon ordering and then tossed in the sauce of your choice. They are not the biggest chicken wings you will ever find, but the sauce was very tasty and it was a nice starter to the meal.
We then ordered a slice of cheese pizza ($2.25), but we added Ricotta cheese and meatballs (.50 each). This is called a Lasagna pizza where I grew up in New Jersey. It is difficult to find especially as a slice option and I am always thrilled when I can order it. The extra creaminess of the Ricotta mixes perfect with the meatball and it is all conveniently served on a slice of crisp cheese pizza. When you add those two toppings together the slice does become hefty so be cautioned when picking it up for a bite. I would encourage you to do the New York fold, where you bring the sides of the slices up together in order to control the slice and keep all the toppings on the slice.
We then ordered a Stromboli Roll ($9.35). This is a roll of dough that is rolled up with Ham, Salami, Pepperoni, and Mozzarella Cheese. It is then baked in the oven so all the ingredients melt into one another and the exterior crust gets nice and crispy. It is served with a small cup of Marinara sauce for dipping if you desire, which we loved. If you like a Calzone, this is similar but not as heavy. It is also a large item and would be easy to share for two people that do not have a tremendous appetite. I have often seen either Pepperoni or Sausage Stromboli on menus, but this was the first time I saw it with all the ingredients together. The flavors of all the meat entwined together perfectly and with a little dip into the sauce it was a fabulous dish.
The final item we ordered was a Chicken Parmigiana Hero ($7.75). This is a 10-inch Italian sub roll that has a nice piece of breaded and fried chicken that they slice into strips for ease of eating. On top of the chicken pieces was some of their marinara sauce and then melted Mozzarella cheese. The slicing of the chicken, which as I said makes it easier to eat, also helps keep all the ingredients inside the roll when taking a bite. They also make the same sandwich with Eggplant, if you are looking to eat slightly healthier.
When you enter into the restaurant you may get a feeling of nostalgia as I did upon arriving. While the exterior might not have the quaint locale pizza joint feel, when you walk through the doors you are taken right back to the pizza places of youth. No fancy frills, just quality seating and even better food. While we can’t go to the Original Ray’s Pizza in New York any longer, we can go to our own locale Ray’s Pizza with ease. Also if it is the Ray’s we want to go to, then it can be our own version of Original Ray’s!
Location and Website – 42211 N 41st Dr, Anthem, AZ 85086, http://www.rayspizzaanthem.com