Years earlier than Ray Liotta landed meaty roles in “Discipline of Desires” and “Goodfellas,” the charismatic actor was rolling in dough at a pizzeria in Cranford, NJ.
Liotta was boyhood friends with Vincent Preziosi, Jr., whose mother, Ronnie, now 93, and pop, Vincent Sr., began Pizza House/Pizza Chef in Newark within the Nineteen Fifties earlier than relocating the enterprise to Cranford in 1970.
Liotta labored on the pizzeria throughout his excessive summer season holidays from 1971 to 1973. “We have been making $3.50 an hour again then,” Preziosi Jr. recalled.
“Ray was an important employee. … He used to indicate earlier than me. He was a pizzamaker. He was glorious at tossing the pie, making the circle greater.”
Together with his ice blue eyes and broad smile, Liotta was a field workplace draw even again then.
“The pizzeria opened at 10 a.m., however there have been at all times 5 – 6 ladies lined up exterior the shop about 40 minutes earlier,” Preziosi Jr. stated. ” I used to be like, ‘Who eats pizza that early?’ It wasn’t onerous to determine. The ladies have been coming to see Ray.”
Preziosi Jr. thought of the actor, who died Thursday on the age of 67, a pricey buddy who by no means forgot the place he got here from.
“Ray was a particularly loyal, beneficiant, humorous, accountable man. I used to be tremendous shocked once I heard he handed,” Preziosi Jr. instructed The Publish from his residence in Orlando, Fla.
About 5 years in the past, Liotta despatched the Preziosi household — at the moment co-owned by Ronnie and daughter, Gina, 59 — an autographed photograph that reads, “I miss the very best pizza on the East Coast!” The framed photograph proudly hangs on a wall of Pizza Home/Pizza Chef, which like Liotta’s work, attracts rave opinions for its thin-crust and margherita pies.
The 2 Jersey Boys adopted the identical path by school, attending the College of Miami, the place they have been roommates for a yr. They made the drive to Miami in Liotta’s circa-1969 orange Mercury.
It was at school that Liotta majored in drama — “he hated math and science” — earlier than transferring to the Large Apple, stated Preziosi Jr., now a chiropractor.
Along with Preziosi Jr., that inside circle included Gene Laguna, an insurance coverage firm proprietor; Jules Geltzeiler, a urologist; Freddy Silverman, a former safety business skilled, and Gary Hecker, who grew to become a Beverly Hills legal professional.
Liotta would say, “We’re all Jersey Guys,” and to that, the group, when collectively, “dropped their share of ‘F-bombs,’” Preziosi Jr. stated.