Ray Liotta was filming pizza pies in Cranford, NJ prior to Goodfellas

Years before Ray Liotta landed major roles in “Field of Dreams” and “Goodfellas,” the charismatic actor was rolling in dough at a Cranford, NJ pizza joint.

Liotta was childhood friends with Vincent Preziosi Jr., whose mother, Ronnie, now 93, and father, Vincent Sr., founded Pizza House/Pizza Chef in Newark in the 1950s before moving the business to Cranford in 1970.

Liotta worked at the pizzeria during his high summer vacation from 1971 to 1973. “We were making $3.50 an hour back then,” Preziosi Jr. recalls.

“Ray was a great worker. … He used to show himself in front of me. He was a pizza maker. He was excellent at throwing the cake and making the circle bigger.”

With his ice-blue eyes and broad smile, Liotta was already a crowd puller back then.

Liotta worked at the pizzeria during his high summer vacation from 1971 to 1973.
Liotta worked at Pizza House/Pizza Chef during his summer vacations from 1971 to 1973.
Ray Liotta's yearbook photo.
Ray Liotta’s yearbook photo.

“The pizzeria opened at 10 a.m., but there were always five or six girls outside the place about 40 minutes before that,” Preziosi Jr. said. “I was like, ‘Who eats pizza this early?’ It wasn’t difficult to find out. The girls wanted to see Ray.”

Preziosi Jr. regarded the actor, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 67, as a dear friend who never forgot where he came from.

“Ray was an extremely loyal, generous, funny and responsible guy. I was super shocked when I heard he passed,” Preziosi Jr. told the Post from his Orlando, Fla. home.

Vincent Preziosi, Jr. on the left in white swim trunks and Liotta on the right in black swim trunks.
Vincent Preziosi, Jr. (left) in white swim trunks and Liotta (right).
Preziosi, Jr. on left in bow tie and Ray Liotta in orange on right.
Preziosi, Jr. – left with bow tie – and Ray Liotta – in orange – in their second grade class photo.

About five years ago, Liotta sent the Preziosi family – currently co-owned by Ronnie and daughter Gina, 59 – a signed photo that read, “I miss the best pizza on the east coast!” The framed photo proudly hangs on a wall of pizza House/Pizza Chef, which like Liotta’s work, gets rave reviews for its thin crust and margherita cakes.

The two Jersey Boys followed the same path through college, attending the University of Miami, where they were roommates for a year. They drove to Miami in Liotta’s orange circa 1969 Mercury.

In college, Liotta studied acting — “he hated math and science” — before moving to the Big Apple, said Preziosi Jr., now a chiropractor.

Ray Liotta, center, with old New Jersey friends Gene Laguna and Jules Geltzeiler.
Ray Liotta poses with his old friends from New Jersey, Gene Laguna and Jules Geltzeiler.

In addition to Preziosi Jr., this inner circle included Gene Laguna, an insurance company owner; Jules Geltzeiler, a urologist; Freddy Silverman, a former security industry professional, and Gary Hecker, who became a Beverly Hills attorney.

Liotta would say, “We’re all Jersey Guys,” and to that, when they were together, the group “dropped their share of ‘F-bombs,'” Preziosi Jr. said.

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