The Dominator: He's Back

Di Fara Reopens (by Slice)

Di Fara Reopens (by Slice)

This Serious Eats stuff I've gotten myself into is a weird business. Blogging about pizza, burgers, and other food is now part of my job, so it wasn't out of the realm of the ordinary to take part of the day to go out to Di Fara Pizza.

The joint had just reopened after having a nasty run-in with the New York City Department of Health. As many of you know, the DOH smackdown wasn't pretty. Along with minor violations like failure to wear a hat and gloves, references to mouse poop and unsanitary conditions peppered the report.

Di Fara Reopens (by Slice)But, a couple weeks of forced closure, the pizzeria's proprietor, Dom DeMarco, was back behind the counter, looking and acting a little peppier for the involuntary rest—greeting regulars in his trademark laconic way and accepting well-wishes from customers with a quick nod.

I was slightly jarred by the new coat of green paint on the walls, which gave the dining room a cozier yet more vibrant feel (see above). In retrospect, the previous faded-yellow color wasn't so becoming, eh? The place looked cleaner, too, with new trash cans that, by all indications, were actually being put to use.

20070403thepress.jpgIt's funny what passes for news these days. You can sure as hell bet that Slice would be on hand for this event, but two other publications were also present: the Courier Life (right, at top) and the New York Post (right, at bottom). Notebooks out and cameras clicking away, the reporters interviewed people: "Are you a regular? How often do you come?"

But most important: "Even after the Department of Health report, you've come back. Why?"

The answers were typical for Di Fara devotees. "He makes the best pizza," one of the patrons responded.

Di Fara Reopens (by Slice)I got there around 1:30 p.m., ordered a half-artichoke pie, and began the ritual waiting. Many of you know I hate crowds and lines, but the place wasn't that packed. Either the report had scared off lightweights and weak stomachs or folks just didn't know that the Dominator was back. But I had my pie by 2:15 p.m. or so (not bad time these days), ate a couple slices at a table (more than a handful of seats were available), and made my way back home to pick up my laptop and head into the office.

While I waited, I asked Dom's daughter, Maggie, about the fate of DeMarco's Pizzeria, the site of a violent gun battle a few weeks ago. The Post had reported that DeMarco's was closing for good, which didn't quite jibe with what the New York Times had said in an earlier, more thorough piece. The Times had it that DeMarco's would close its sit-down restaurant portion but keep the take-out pizzeria portion open. Maggie confirmed this. Alas, the Old Gray Lady's not called the "paper of record" for nothing, kids.

What's that you ask? Oh. How was my pie? Well, Dom was using the top oven as well as the usual middle oven, and I don't know how hot that top oven gets, but my crust could have used a bit more time in the fire.

Oh, and, Dom was stubbornly refusing to wear gloves and a hat!

For photo outtakes, click through the jump!

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