Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Bagel Cafe Ray's Pizza: "This is the perfect food to soak up 40-120 ounces of Ballentine Ale."
Bagel Cafe Ray's Pizza! What a place! I have probably been here literally 1000 times in my life. Maybe less, actually. As a teenager, I definitely ate bagels here like, at least 2 or 3 times many weeks. Here is what I would order: everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese. Here is what I would not order: pizza. But that's just because St. Marks Pizza was just across the street and a MILLION TIMES better. There was also that bodega on that corner that would sell me cigarettes when I was like 13! What a lawless world St Marks Place seemed to be back then.
And upon walking into the back of Ray's, I realized that, although Freaks and Coney Island High might be gone, and even if the old rehab church is a Japanese clothing store and a Chipotle, that block is still an epicenter of weirdness and grime. Sitting in the backroom along with me and my friends were: these two latino bikers (dude 1: super tight segmented ponytail/handlebar mustache, dude 2: shaved bald, Dimebag Darryl goatee) and their biker chick companion (ponytail, fishnets, pushing 60), two methed out party and play dudes of different races and very disparate ages fawning over each other and stroking each other's cheeks, some doofus college kids talking about "titties" and "fingerblasting" girls, and a lady who was just totally passed out at 2:30 in the afternoon with her face in a salad. That's 1 slot away from a St Marks Bingo, which is when 5 of any number of types of people are all in one place. Other squares on the St Marks Bingo Board are Dyed Black Hair Rock'n'Roll Couple, Teenage Skinhead, Thugged Out Entire Family, Raver on Rollerblades, Jesse Camp. I don't really know. I'm making this up right now, but it sounds like a fun game!
The pizza was okay. I remember at least feigning like it was HORRIBLE when I was a kid because I was so appalled anyone would pass up a slice from St. Marks Pizza. But to be honest, this slice wasn't BAD. I wasn't GOOD either, that's for sure, but I thought it was gonna be awful. This slice was a little floppy, but it was still somehow crunchy on the very bottom. And while this exact situation often means there is a layer of pasty, uncooked dough below the sauce and cheese, this slice was cooked all the way through. There was definitely a screen imprint on the bottom, and the sauce was pretty can-ny and crappy. But the cheese was good enough and there was enough grease to make me happy, and there is just something really comforting and pleasant about this slice. It's intangible, but it's there and it's why this place has stayed open so long. Plus it's 24 hours, which rules if you are hungry late night and don't feel like going to 7A or Yaffa like I used to do at 6am after going Goth Dancing as a youngster!
Bagel Cafe Ray's Pizza - $2.75
2 St. Marks Place (at 3rd)
New York, NY 10003