The up-and-down saga of the (formerly) Famous Ray's Pizza at 11th St. and 6th Avenue continues, as we hear from a commenter, and confirmed, that this pizza shop will be closing once again--tomorrow--and, most likely this time, for good.
Originally opened in 1973 by Mario and Lamberto DiRienzo, the pizzeria suddenly shuttered in October 2011.
It was later rescued and reopened by its original surviving owner in April 2012, but with its name changed from Famous Ray's to Famous Roio's to avoid lawsuits and tensions. Long-time fans flooded in with good wishes. Mario DiRienzo told me, "I feel like crying. So much appreciation from people." The beloved corner pizza joint seemed to have a new lease on life.
Then Mr. DiRienzo passed away in September 2012, just five months after reviving his shop. Roio's continued on without him over the past year.
Mario in 2012
Mr. DiRienzo had purchased the building in 1974, according to an archived New Yorker article. Recently, a FOR SALE sign was posted on the building. Massey Knakal has the listing (PDF) with an $8 million asking price. They write, "The entire ground floors can be delivered vacant, making the property ideal for a user or investor."
They note two businesses on the ground floor, the one on 6th Avenue (Roio's) and another on 11th Street that they say is currently on a month-to-month lease and also can be "delivered vacant."
That business is the Little Tony & Igor Be Good barber shop.
Christopher Lange's flickr
Originally opened on 6th Avenue some 40 years ago, the barber shop was bumped around the corner to this spot when the DiRienzo brothers expanded Famous Ray's in 1978. Owned by "Little" Tony Badalamenti, the shop continued after Tony's death in 2005, with Igor added.
Peter von Ziegesar recalled in The Villager that, after 9/11, Tony "kept the shop open all night to give haircuts to the firemen and the doctors over at St. Vincent’s," for no charge. In those weeks, the walls of this building were covered in missing posters.
I checked in with the barber and he told me that the building has indeed been sold, Roio's is out, but Little Tony & Igor will be staying put.
Famous Ray's: 1978
So, again, it's time to go for your last slice. By tomorrow night, The Famous Roio's, nee Ray's, will be gone after 40 years in business (minus a few months). And then who knows? Another bank? Maybe a 7-Eleven? Somehow, I doubt they'll keep the DiRienzo brothers' 1976 mosaic of Montecatini on the wall.
Famous Roio's reopens
Famous Ray's Vanishes
Ray's After 9/11