By Gabriela Laracca
Arts & Entertainment Editor
478 West Main St, the plot of land that curses any Italian joint that happens to establish itself upon its premises, is hosting a new name in the KU pizza game.
As a senior, having seen two pizzerias (Uncle Joe’s and Bones) fall victim to the doomed property’s bad juju since my freshman year, I could only assume Ray’s Pizza da Sogno, the new pizzeria taking Bones place, was going to fall to the same fate. However, I was extremely, yet happily, mistaken.
Being an Italian-American hailing from Northern New Jersey 30 minutes outside Manhattan, a pizza snob like myself immediately rejected the pizza from both Bones and Uncle Joe’s as it often tasted like thick, soggy, wet cardboard dressed with ketchup for sauce and leathery Kraft mozzarella. After enduring this trauma, I had a hard time walking through those intersection-adjacent double doors. But boy, am I glad I did.
After waiting a short 15 minutes of staring at all the delicious specialty pies displayed on the counter, I was presented with a work of art that I could smell from across the kitchen.
After bringing it home, my boyfriend and I unveiled a plain pie that could bring a Brooklyn-based construction worker to tears.
Possibly the best part of the pizza pie was the sauce. After struggling to find a pizzeria reminiscent of home for these last four years, I tasted that beloved Jersey/Manhattan taste in Ray’s gravy. Perfectly salty, never cringingly sweet, I could actually taste the tomatoes and spices in this sauce. It also did not drip off or through the dough- it perfectly complimented the pie without making it soggy or soupy.
The crust was perfectly thin and crispy on the outermost layer while remaining doughy on what-little-was-there of the inside portion. You could barely taste it even though it brought the entire dish together with a bakery-fresh, homemade bread flavor. For street cred, I will not fail to mention I also grew up in the nirvana of Italian bakeries.
The cheese, although the most average of the trio of food groups that makes a pie, was also perfectly thin. With just the right amount of spice and oil, the mozzarella melted in my mouth. When hot, the stringy, drippy cheese made me nostalgic of those mouth-watering animations of stretchy pizza in childhood cartoon-favorites— particularly The Goofy Movie.
If you need even further persuasion to take a bite for yourself, the atmosphere at this joint is much more than a greasy after-bar stop— even though they are open until 2 a.m. on the weekends.
In their outside dining area, a warm heater stands (as if the pizza did not warm us up enough.) On the windows facing the street, seasonally themed illustrations are painted including an adorable misfit toys scene with a sign that reads, “All misfit toys welcome here.”
Trust me when I tell you, do not immediately write off Ray’s Pizza da Sogno, because of past grievances you have had with the property’s priors, like I almost did. After having one slice, you will have no reason to settle for subpar pizza in Kutztown again.
After trying real pizza, do not be too hard on yourself for having thought lots of quirky toppings and cheap prices made a good pie.