At Clara & Rays – You’re Family Here

Our Story

The story of Clara & Ray’s Ristorante Italiano is a family story. Clara and Ray were my parents, but the story really begins with my grandmother, Amelia. She was born in the town of Paduli, in the Province of Benevento in Italy. Amelia came to the United States in 1920 with her family and lived in New York. As a teenage girl, she met Giacomo (my grandfather…everyone called him Jack) and soon the two were married.

Their first child was a beautiful girl…Clara, my mother. As the oldest of what would eventually become a family of eight, Clara helped her mother Amelia cook and clean and raise the growing family. At her mother’s side, Clara learned to cook and how to prepare a meal with care and love. Amelia was the matriarch and Clara was always right there to help. Clara was always involved…learning, and helping. The large and ever-growing family would soon include many uncles, aunts, and cousins, and Amelia would depend on Clara more and more.

A favorite uncle introduced Clara to his good friend Ray and the two hit it off right away. Ray was drafted while he was in high school, and served in WWII with honor in both Europe (Germany) and the Pacific (Philippines). Clara waited for him to return, and continued to help with the ever-growing family. When Ray returned, he and Clara were married. They started a family of their own, but always stayed very close to the larger family. My Dad was a hard working, helpful and caring man. Clara & Ray had four children.

Clara and Ray were wonderful parents. They worked hard, went to church, visited with the entire family, and helped others. They were happy, friendly, and generous to everyone. The door was always open and there was always enough food to go around. With such a large family,  there was always a reason to celebrate and everyone was always invited. They cooked together, laughed and cried, and shared everything. Family was everything to them, and friends soon became part of the family too.

When I moved to South Carolina with my wife Tracey and our friend Brian, we discovered that there were no real authentic Italian restaurants in the area. So in 2007, we decided to open up a family owned Italian restaurant, giving people a delicious taste of Italian cuisine, using many of our family recipes! We have our family pizza dough from my Grandma Amelia and pasta sauce (marinara sauce) from my Mom, Clara. My grandmother also taught me how to make homemade ravioli, gnocchi, bracciole and many other Italian dishes and desserts. My mother also taught me how to make homemade meatballs, chicken cutlets, eggplant, manicotti, zeppole, struffoli, biscotti and more. We feel so honored to be able to share these amazing recipes with the people in the community. Clara and Ray always enjoyed having people around them. My Mom was always in the kitchen cooking and she loved doing it. They were a remarkable couple. In honor of them both and to keep people enjoying these family recipes, we named the restaurant after them!

We look forward to seeing you at our family ristorante!


Contact Us

(803) 951-0051


New Hours of Operation

Monday - Thursday - 4:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday - 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday - 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Sunday from 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm.  

Palmetto Plaza
5140 Sunset Blvd, Suites E & F
Lexington, SC.