Ray Liotta Ate One Of His Final Meals At This Steakhouse

Movie fans were shocked and saddened by the recent death of Ray Liotta, an acclaimed actor who starred in films such as "Goodfellas" and "Field of Dreams," and recently in "The Many Saints of Newark" and the Netflix series "Blackbird" (via IMDb).

According to Page Six, Liotta, 67, died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic's capital of Santo Domingo, where he was filming the new movie "Dangerous Waters." With Liotta in the Caribbean nation for the shoot was his fiance, Jacy Nittolo, 47. No cause of death has been released as of this writing.

Fans will probably always remember Liotta's iconic Italian food scenes in "Goodfellas," such as the part in which Liotta, Paul Sorvino, and other members of their gang are permitted to cook up elaborate Italian meals, complete with special pasta sauce, in prison (via YouTube). But real-life Ray Liotta, a New Jersey native, seemed to enjoy dining out. He tweeted once about his love for Rao's restaurant in New York City, calling it "NYC's best Italian food."

Liotta and Nittolo availed themselves of the best of the city of Santo Domingo. They were believed to be staying at the exclusive Casas del XVI resort (via Yahoo! Movies), and one of the actor's last meals took place at an elegant steakhouse about 700 meters from the luxury resort (via Google Maps). Both the resort and the restaurant are located in the Zona Colonial, the city's picturesque historic district (via US News & World Report).

Steakhouse pays tribute to Liotta

Actor and iconic portrayer of "bad boys" (per EW) Ray Liotta ate at Naca'n restaurant, an American-style steakhouse in Santo Domingo, two days before his tragic death (per Page Six). Via Instagram, Naca'n shared a photo of Liotta in the restaurant's bar with an unknown woman writing, "We were fortunate to host Ray for dinner on Tuesday night. He was a special person and talented actor that will be missed – your friends at Naca'n will remember you fondly."

Two days earlier, Naca'n posted a photo of Liotta and Nittolo from the same evening along with the caption, "Mr Ray Liotta joined us for dinner with friends. We had a nice chat about the history of our building and our business. Very friendly and generous gentleman."

Naca'n describes itself as "the intersection of high culture, art, and cuisine." Photos show an elegant and stately exterior and interior. The menu features dishes like pumpkin cream soup, fresh ceviche, prime steaks, seabass, and salmon, and desserts like a brioche bread pudding and a variety of soufflés. Trip Advisor users have gushed about it, saying, "Amazing food, staff and wine selection. I highly recommend Nacan to anyone that seeks an impecable (sic) experience." Another commented, "This place is amazing. Service and food were top notch!! If you visit Santo Domingo, you must come here." One can only wonder if the "generous gentleman" enjoyed his time at the restaurant as much as Naca'n seemed to enjoy him.

What makes Rao's restaurant so special?

Recall that Mr. Liotta had stated that Rao's in New York City was the home of the Big Apple's best Italian food. What exactly is Rao's Restaurant, and what made it so special that Liotta had to go and tell the world about it?

Located at 455 East 114th Street, Rao's has an impressive history stretching back to 1896 when the restaurant first opened. According to Rao's website, part of what makes it so legendary is its "authentic, southern Neapolitan Italian cooking and its home-style family ambiance." Indeed, Rao's claims that it maintains a close connection to "cherished Pellegrino and Rao traditions" practiced by the restaurant's original founders, Vincent Rao and Anne Pellegrino. What also makes Rao's restaurant so legendary is the type of clientele that dined there, including Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, Woody Allen, and, of course, Ray Liotta.

If you'd like to learn what's on the menu at Rao's in New York City, you may have to travel there yourself to find out. There are no menus at Rao's, at least in New York City. According to the New York Post, the waiter will come over to your table, suggest some dishes or foods, such as meat or seafood, and you choose from that list. Why is this? It's about creating a "personal connection" where you can feel comfortable ordering a meal just as you would from a family member's house. Italian culture is generally centered around family, after all.

Ray Liotta worked in a pizza shop when he was younger

In Cranford, New Jersey, there exists a special restaurant called Pizza House (or Pizza Chef, whichever you prefer to call it). At first glance, it looks like your average, everyday pizzeria. You could probably drive right by it if you're passing through New Jersey and not even give it a second thought. But this place is known for a rather notable guest prepping the pizzas behind the counter: a young Ray Liotta.

According to Downtown Cranford's post celebrating the pizzeria, Liotta was friends with the son of owners Ronnie and Vincent Preziosi and worked there as a teenager while growing up in Newark. He was described as a "great employee" by Ronnie Preziosi, and it would seem that the late Mr. Liotta shared the same positive sentiments about his old workplace as well. Inside the restaurant, you can find an autographed photo of a younger Liotta hanging on the wall, in which the actor claims he "misses the best pizza on the East Coast!"

It would seem that Pizza House/Pizza Chef is also loved by the citizens of Cranford, according to Patch. Several people had fond memories of working there or hanging out with friends after school. While Liotta couldn't prepare the infamous "prison sauce" for his old workplace, it seems that it's still a beloved community staple as it is.