January 11, 2010

A Deflowering at Di Fara

POST #    3011

I've had a lot of pizza in my life, yet strangely this was my first time to Di Fara. Di Fara is a legendary pizza joint, in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn where Dom DeMarco has been toiling away for over 45 years, making each pie himself with the best ingredients. Is the pizza good? Yes, it's very good. Is it the best in the city? No, I don't think it is. Especially with all these new "artisanal" pizza places that are popping up all over the place. I'm not even sure if, taste-wise, Di Fara is better than a Patsy's (original) or a Grimaldi's.

First, the bad parts: Perhaps it's just my preferences, but I wasn't a huge fan of the end crust. While the crust to support the cheese, sauce, toppings, etc., worked, the ends just seemed to be lacking a little flavor. It's possible that the end crust was even slightly underdone on the first pie we had (plain). And, of course, there's all the olive oil that is poured (not drizzled) onto the pie. I know olive oil is healthy, but I think a drizzle of the stuff could have been better (note napkin pile). Our second pie (broccoli rabe and sausage) didn't seem as oily, nor did our final one (plain square). Maybe there was just more stuff to distract us from the oil. Some of the pies started off so "wet" that attempting to slide a slice from the pie onto our plates resulted in a pile of hot cheese on the pizza pan and a relatively cheese-less slice. And all the toppings and overall wetness, lends itself to a floppy slice of pizza. That wasn't the case with the square pie we had as it's a naturally firmer crust.

Now, the good parts: The ingredients and the care that are put into each pie is excellent. It's easily on par with all the "fancy" pizza places you go to in the city. You can taste the quality of the ingredients with each bite you take. The fine mozzarella, the grana padano he sprinkles on top, the fresh basil, and even the plentiful olive oil, lend to a delicious bite of pizza. Of course, that shows up in the cost of the pies (we paid just under $100 with drinks for 7 people), but quality doesn't come cheap. It's the ingredients and the care that Dom puts into each pie that seems to set this place apart from many pizza places.

Am I being overly critical? Perhaps. But going into my "virgin experience" at Di Fara, I was expecting a lot. Some people talk about Di Fara pizza as if it were a nectar of the Gods. Sure, Dom DeMarco has done something at Di Fara that exceeds the pizza of any neighborhood pizza place in the city, if not the world, and it's excellent pizza that I would eat again. I'm just not sure if it's as mind-blowing as I had hoped (or expected) and I certainly wouldn't wait in line for two hours just to get a bite of it. That said, I would like to go back sometime in the future to try it again. After all, it could have just been an off day at Di Fara, right?

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink, NYC, Photos at 12:00 PM



I think one of DiFara's problems is that it's a bit inconsistent. The issues you mention may not happen next time, but others may pop up.

Great pizza if not the best. I do like it much better than Grimaldi's.

One place I miss is that little joint on Court Street near Second Place, which is now a Dreaded Dunkin Donuts.

Posted by: Joe Holmes at January 11, 2010 12:26 PM

I think that could have something to do with the flavor from brick/coal/wood burning ovens, which in my opinion are preferable to gas. But I think you're right about consistency, which is why I'll have to go back again.

And places like Grimaldi's, Patsy's, etc all have consistency issues too, so I suppose it depends if you go on an off day or not.

Posted by: tien at January 11, 2010 12:35 PM

I cannot BELIEVE I haven't been there yet. Great pics.

Posted by: Amanda at January 11, 2010 3:41 PM

I stopped reading after you claimed that Grimadli's is a tastier pie. Grow some balls, grab some napkins, and deal with the olive oil.

Posted by: Bryan at January 11, 2010 7:01 PM

Would it be possible for you guys to waste any more paper? Looks like you got one little spot of oil per napkin. Seriously, stop acting like the world is *only* yours...

Posted by: cr at January 11, 2010 7:11 PM

I loved the photos. I will definitely have to try to get out there. It's a long haul from where I live and I know a couple of great pizza places that are nearer. If I want great pizza, I'll likely go to those rather than travel a good distance.

Still, this is a fine review and, again, great photos!

Posted by: harrisgraber at January 11, 2010 7:33 PM

It's less than a block from the B/Q trains.

Posted by: Steve-O at January 11, 2010 8:12 PM

new haven, CT. You're welcome

Posted by: Rick at January 11, 2010 9:58 PM

You are actually right that there are new places in the city that deliver a transcendental pizza experience that rivals DiFaras. (Lately I'm loving Robertas.) But, for a long time Dom was really doing something that nobody else could do. And you've gotta respect the dedication of this one man.

Others are right that the pies can be a bit inconsistent. Sometimes it's worth all of the hassle, sometimes not. Last time I went I was not blown away, either.

Posted by: djs at January 11, 2010 11:48 PM

there's WAY too much oil on these pies. It ruins the pizza.

Posted by: Dave at January 12, 2010 9:30 AM

DiFara's is NYC's best pizza. Quality ingredients.
Hand made by a pro. Free floor show.

Our most recent visit was this past Sunday night.
The "regular" pie was up to its usual greatness.
Dom and the nice young man in the photo nearly got into a fight when Dom kept skipping over an order, apparently deliberately, just to keep things interesting.

Posted by: famdoc at January 12, 2010 9:46 AM

no, thank you. if it means being with the guy with the iphone.
whatever floats on your pizza.
but really, enjoy. but why do people take this pizza experience so seriously?

Posted by: geaufrite usef at January 12, 2010 11:31 AM

first off, on the issue of why people take pizza so seriously, if you have to ask, why are you on this site? I've been to Difara's, and it was one of the best pies i've had. Later that day, I went to Grimaldi's, and comparing them is really a joke. It's not even a discussion, as Grimaldi's seems to have turned into a pizza version of Carnegie Deli (sad). As for the quality DiFara's was amazing: crispy and firm crust, a three cheese combo with a nice, slightly sharp flavor, fresh ingredients, and there's got to be extra credit that the basil is from Dom's garden. Not sure about consistency, but the one I had was off the hook.

Posted by: Paul at January 13, 2010 12:06 AM

Paul - there's no way Dom grows the basil in his garden. That myth needs to be debunked. Think of how much basil he goes through. Think of the weather. You think it's really possible to grow that much? Besides, in an Epicurious piece, Dom says the basil is from Israel.

Posted by: tien at January 13, 2010 8:46 AM

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