It's not often that one writes an epitaph for a recently deceased friend only to see that friend resurrected. Such is the case with Famous Ray's Pizza of Manhattan's Greenwich Village. My eulogy several months ago was posted here.
In what can only be described as reincarnation or divine intervention, Mario DiRienzo, the original owner of Famous Ray's when it opened in 1973, swooped in and grabbed the lease on 6th Avenue and 11th Street before one of the inauthentic cloned Rays could take over. The proliferation of other "Rays" was what drove Famous Ray's out of business with trademark infringement litigation.
Not taking any chances this time, DiRienzo is naming the place Famous Roio's after his hometown in Italy, Roio del Sangro. The fact that it sounds like "Rays" when you say Roio three times fast is purely coincidence. Mario spruced the place up slightly, but thankfully left the round standing tables which were considered the hallmark of '70s pizzeria design. He also added photos of himself and the place from the early '70s, so that the restaurant literally exudes a '70s feel. I half-expected Farrah Fawcett-Majors to walk in and order a slice, not as she was before she was recently taken from us still far too young and regal, but wearing the orange one-piece bathing suit she was wearing in the poster that adorned the back of my bedroom door growing up.
And the pizza? Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The perfect resurrection of the gloppy, cheesy, oily 3-pound slice that no paper plate can stand up to and that very few of us know how to lift without the aid of plastic knife and fork which Ray's, er, Roio's happily supplies. On the way out I hugged DiRienzo, no longer sporting the thick black curls he did in the photos from 1973. I thanked him for bringing back the institution and told him how much it meant to me. He said it meant a lot to him, too. It shows. So forget Neapolitan-style, dollar slices, gourmet pizza, and healthy pizza — drop by Famous Roio's of Greenwich Village for a real slice of that '70s pizza.