There is a secret mob history that comes with the famous Ray’s Pizza place in Prince Street, New York City. Revealed by Alfonso D’Arco, the first mafia mob boss to become a government witness, to be a front for the mafia. The pizza place was famous for serving one of the best pizzas in the city, but the real story is that Heroin was their main business: it was a restaurant set up solely as a money-laundering operation.
In 1959, Ralph Cuomo was released from prison after being caught for armed robbery but only ended up serving 3 years in prison. After his release, he looked for new business ventures and has always been a decent cook decided to open a pizza restaurant naming it Ray’s Pizzas.
However, the shop’s real trade was drugs, more precisely heroin. Ralph had an amazing connection with the notorious crime family called the DiPalermo brothers. At first, they were very wary of each other, with the drug selling mafia bosses feeling a stickup guy was too reckless, but the pizza parlor quickly became their crime headquarters. It was a favorite place for local mobsters to meet up and gather.
Ralph went into business with them entirely, becoming a big narcotics seller himself. Even when he was caught in 1969 with $25 million worth of heroin in his trunk, he only ended up serving a couple of years in prison. After release, Ralph went straight back to the pizzeria and began to deal again. None of the mafia bosses or Ralph were users themselves, but they were all degenerate gamblers and this is what pushed them to make bigger and bigger heroin sales.
But the funny thing was that Ray’s Pizza became an extremely big hit, bringing in as much money as selling drugs. Ralph even franchised and opened another place on the Upper East Side. Others even rushed in springing up all over New York, all claiming to be part of the Ray’s Pizza chain. Ralph tried to trademark his parlor’s name to cut himself into the profits of the trend he felt he had created, but the legal battle was so complicated he had to drop it in the end.
In 1995, the FBI finally came crashing down on Ralph and arrested the 62-year-old man for operating a huge narcotics network out of his pizzeria. Still, he only ended up serving four years in prison! And once released, his pizza parlor had still been operating, it wasn’t closed until 2011. And his heirs finally sold the building for over $6 million!