In New York, there is great pizza, there is pretty good pizza and there's some not great pizza. But just as a superb slice can elevate your taste buds and sense of inner peace to a whole new apex of awesomeness, a truly terrible piece of pizza will smash your soul into teensy, weensy pieces of sadness and gustatory despair. This, sadly, is a tale of one such slice.
The first of two offending pieces of pizza was purchased on a whim last winter, at the "Famous Original Ray's Pizza" on East Houston between Norfolk and Essex Street. I knew the purchase would be a mistake once I stepped into the establishment, which was grimy, empty and smelled vaguely of old cheese. But the stomach wants what the stomach wants, and at that moment all I wanted was a big slice of pizza, quality be damned. Or so I thought.
I ordered a sausage and pepperoni slice, and it was, by far, the MOST HORRIFIC slice of pizza ever to make it into my gullet at that point in my life. It was cold, the cheese was clammy, and congealed, the sauce was acidic, the bread was chewy and stale and the meat harbored a venomous, metallic, sour taste. I ate half of it before tossing the rest of the culinary travesty into a trash can, leaving the establishment hampered by the weight of blighted hope and hunger.
The slice was so body-numbingly awful I forgot what real pizza tasted like. Is this what my life is now? I asked myself. Will pizza always be this way, rancid and tinged with the hint of old onions? Am I doomed to wander from pizzeria to pizzeria, not once blessed with a hot, satiating slice? Will I ever be normal again? I vowed never to return to that nightmarish Ray's, and it took a full three days before I was even able to brave another pizza establishment altogether.
I am both a journalist and a staunch believer in second chances, though, and so I went back to the East Houston Ray's last week to document a new slice, hoping my memory was far worse than reality. But alas.
The slice was just as curdled and repulsive as the first one—old, undercooked and somehow simultaneously overcooked. I truly believe it was filled with the blood and tears of a million baby cockroaches. It smelled like a small creature had died on top of it a week ago, and it was rubbery to the touch. And this horrorshow cost me $4.50. Everything is terrible. LOOK AT IT UP CLOSE IT IS SO HORRIBLE.
WHY IS IT GREY. (Rebecca Fishbein/Gothamist)
According to Yelp, this Ray's is notoriously bad, but still frequented by inebriated souls wandering the LES in search of a slice to soak up a night's worth of pickleback shots. But you will never, ever get me drunk enough to let an inch of this pizza pass my lips (Max Fish is gone now), and I hope for your sake that the rest of you pizza-eaters out there will follow suit. For those of of you who do not heed my warning, however, May God Have Mercy On Your Soul.