"I have been waiting a lifetime to eat a square slice this good."
You can imagine how left out I felt when I read that almost all of the Slice–Serious Eats office had gone to Di Fara last Wednesday. Especially because many, like myself, had never gone prior to last week. For a day or so there I remained one of the few contributors to the Serious Eats family of blogs who had not visited the fabled pizzeria in the middle of Brooklyn. Our own Joe DiStefano called me out on the fact in the comments section of the post in question. I vowed to remedy the deficit before leaving for a holiday in Italy and thus corralled a hapless friend to drive me out to Midwood on a whim.
Following Adam's advice ("All You Need to Know About Di Fara, 2009"), we tried to get there early, but as with all of my best laid plans I ended up arriving around 11:45 a.m. and ended up about ten places back in the line.
The procession inside was far more civil that I anticipated when the doors swung open promptly at noon. The orders in front of me were quickly placed, and by the time I got to the front of the line—within five minutes of opening time—there was half a regular pie available by the slice. I ordered three of those plus a slice of Sicilian. I figured a square slice pie couldn't be far behind the round one.
Boy was I wrong. It took 30 minutes for the square pie to appear. But let me tell you something, it was well worth it.
But first the round pie. The topping weres beyond reproach, although I, like many before, found the deluge of oil that the pies are baptized with to be over the top. Perhaps the extra oil is the reason Di Fara's per-slice cost recently jumped to $5.
It's hard to zero in on the flavors other than the oil initially, but when you do you realize they are of a high quality. The milky cheese and tangy sauce spiked with basil collude to provide the near-perfect pizza synthesis, at least in terms of the NYC model. My problem was the crust, which I found rather dense and too crisp. Like Carey Jones, I am a fan of Neapolitan-style pizza and like a bit of chewiness in my crust. I prefer, for example (despite the topping being admittedly rather bland), the crust at the original Patsy's, which is softer and more delicate.
I only waited for five minutes for my slices. Had I waited an hour or more I would probably have been disappointed.
Not so with the square slice. In actuality I have been waiting a lifetime to eat a square slice this good so the half hour I waited or the hour I may have to wait when I return do not seem so bad. I was not expecting it to be as good as it was.
Actually, that's understating things.
I did not expect it to be transcendental, especially after not finding the round slice to be so. But it was. It was wonderful. The crisp crust had some give and despite being burnished never crossed over into being charred. The molten melange of creamy cheese and tart tomato infused with basil was irresistible.
Since I had to wait for the square pie for a little while I got to watch the master at work. As several of you noted in last week's Di Fara missive, Dom DeMarco goes about his business with a monastic diligence, seemingly shutting out the chaos that is going on across the counter. He shuffles pensively between oven and counter, delicately snipping basil and anointing pies with oil with the same hands he uses to pull pizzas from the oven without mitts or utensils.
I am glad I finally made it to Di Fara, rectifying a serious deficiency in my pizza-eating experience. While I was not blown away by the round slice, but the square one did precisely that.
I can't wait to go back.