Nestled incongruously among kosher restaurants and variety stores in the largely Orthodox Jewish section of Midwood, Brooklyn, DiFara Pizza is easily our favorite pizzeria in the city. So when I woke uplate, not surprisinglyit was the obvious choice. I called Seltzerboy, Slice's wire editor, and we were off.
Readers who have been to DiFara already know what makes it so good. For the rest of you: It's Dom's stubborn perfectionismhe's the only one to touch the pies thereand use of only the finest and freshest ingredients that set his pizzas apart.
Mr. DeMarco uses a combination of fresh and canned San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce, which he makes dailysometimes several times a day, from what we understand. Then there's the cheese: a combination of high-quality regular mozzarella, fresh buffalo mozzarella that he imports from Italy, and a dusting of sharp, slightly nutty-tasting grana padana. All this goodness sits atop a thin crust that Dom somehow coaxes to near-coal-oven crispness.
And talk about perfect balance: Not one ingredient overpowers another. In one bite, you can make out the taste of the crust, cheese, and sauce, plus the drizzle of olive oil he dashes on just before throwing the pie in the oven.
But that didn't last long. Not more than ten minutes passed before the place started to fill up. Before that happened, though, we were able to get in our order for a half artichokehalf garlic pie, which is what Mr. DeMarco is slicing in the first photo above.
And one thing about toppings at DiFara is that they take the extra time to prepare each topping right before putting it on the pie. With our order, for instance, Dom had his daughter, Maggie, sauté the artichokes before putting them on. You're not going to find that level of craftsmanship at a typical slice joint in the city. Heck, you'd be lucky to find artichokes.
Though we rave about Di Fara, there are a couple of minor drawbacks. The first and most annoying is that the place can get very, very busywe've been there at times when the crowd at the counter has been five people wide and four deep. With Dom as sole pie-maker, that's a problem. We've sometimes waited up to and over an hour for our pie. If you live nearby or have a car, your best bet might be placing the order for take-out (they don't deliver) and waiting it out at home. We've contemplated placing an eat-in order before getting on the train, but word is Dom doesn't like that and we're loath to upset him. Best strategy is to go with friends so you can keep one another company, or to bring some reading. (While we're dispensing tips, you should also know that Dom allows you to bring your own beer or wine. Just ask him for a corkscrew or bottle opener.)
The second, very minor, drawback is that the dining area's cleanliness leaves something to be desired. It's by no means filthy, just that, with only two people working most times (Dom and one of his children; it's a family affair here), the staff doesn't have the resources to devote to tidying up. Tables go uncleared and unwiped. But that's a small price to pay for the best pizza in the city.
We could go on and on about Di Fara, but we'll save it for another entry. Until then, we give you some (admittedly questionable) photos (below) to enjoy.
Di Fara Pizza
Address: 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY 11230 (Midwood; map)
Payment: Cash only.
Hours: ~11:30 a.m. to ~10 p.m. (not set in stone)
- Di Fara on Chowhound's Message Boards
- Di Fara in New York Magazine
- Di Fara on CitySearch
- The Eclectic Gourmet Guide to Greater New York City: The Undiscovered World of Hyperdelicious Offbeat Eating in All Five Boroughs, by Jim Leff