Saturday, May 28, 2011
Review: DiFara Pizza, Brooklyn
Is DiFara Pizza http://www.difara.com/ (1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn) the most legendary of all pizza joints? Maybe. I discovered it a few years back, exploring the outer boroughs of New York. We went to Patsy's in East Harlem (awesome); L&B Spumoni Gardens (near Coney Island; good but not great); and Zero Otto Nove in Bronx's Little Italy (very good pie, much like Osteria in Philly).
But the topper, by far, was DiFara. I've only been there twice. It's a tiny place on a corner in a very Jewish part of Brooklyn; parking can be a challenge. Every single pie is made by Dom DeMarco, for over 45 years. He's a spry guy in his 70s, and I don't know how he can tolerate the heat on summer days coming from the ovens; one tiny window A/C unit is completely inadequate to provide any cooling.
Dom does have help, mostly family members. Somebody in the back room preps the dough and brings it out to him. His sons and daughters work in front, grinding cheese, opening cans of tomato sauce, and working the register. Dom forms the dough into the pie crust, applies the San Marzano tomatoes (one site reports that he mixes fresh and canned tomatoes), puts one entire ball of fresh mozzarella on every pie, and bakes it. When it comes out, he drizzles it with imported olive oil, sprinkles on grated grana padano cheese, and then with huge shears he snips a generous portion of fresh basil on each pizza.
On our second visit, we waited TWO HOURS (big mistake was ordering a square pie, pictured above; he doesn't make them as fast or as frequently) for pies that cost $30 each (if you just want a slice, it's $5). The seating area was too hot and too crowded. We took our pies and placed them on the trunk of my car; we sat on the curb, eating pizza before a Mets game. After ONE BITE, we instantly concurred: "Worth it!!"
My daughter finds this to be the best pizza she's ever had. It is truly remarkable, but I still give a very slight edge to DeLorenzo's on Hudson Street in Trenton.
Good news is that the pies won't stop when Dom is done making them; a second DiFara is opening in Las Vegas this summer. Let's hope they can execute his exacting vision for a perfect pizza.