Some chefs refuse to divulge their recipes; Domenico DeMarco doesn't even have any. "I just use my eye," he explains to Christopher Kimball in a recent episode of America's Test Kitchen.
'DiFara' on Serious Eats
New York has long been regarded as a, if not the, pizza Mecca. But these days, many of our city's most highly publicized pizzerias share increasingly less with the slice joints and classic pie shops that engendered that reputation in the first place. Whether you're a native New Yorker or a first-time visitor, here are 12 old-school pizzerias you should definitely know.
Yesterday, Di Fara, a.k.a (one of) the best pizza joint(s) on planet Earth, announced that they'll be opening a take-out spot later this month.
At Slice we're not ones to throw around judgement without due diligence and back up, so In the interest of TRUTH (and a opinion), I decided to revisit Artichoke to re-assess their entire pizza menu, top to bottom. In the interest of thoroughness, I visited multiple times—at 11AM when the first round pies are coming straight out of the oven, at noon when the first square pies emerge, and again in the mid-afternoon when a re-heat is necessary on your slices.
If you like this, check out the definitive Di Fara documentary, The Best Thing I Ever Done.
Now that we're back in full swing around here, it's time to play catch up with some news. Did everyone see this crumb that Di Fara threw out on Facebook the Sunday after Christmas? Clearly things have been in the works, but it's hard to gauge just how far along the plans are based on the pizzeria's zipped lip approach. Of course the questions started flying in the comments of the post, and the only reply was:
Wow, so this happened, again. (More fuel for the anit-Di Fara fire, aye Girl Slice?) Di Fara has had an ongoing struggle with keeping things up to code. The first in a string of closings happened back in March of 2007. Things had been going pretty well of late, but it looks like Dom DeMarco is back on the DOH radar.
As the wife of the "Slicemeister General," I get asked on a fairly regular basis if I like Di Fara, which is arguably the pizzeria on which Slice's reputation was based. I emphatically answer NO. I do not like Di Fara at all. I have been four or five times, and I have never had a good time. Why not? Let me enumerate.
I just had to draw your attention to this wonderful portrait of Di Fara Pizza's Dom DeMarco by artist Eddie Cohen. It appears in Eddie's gallery "Old Men at Sea." He took it at Di Fara, rigging up a DIY "studio" with some light box material and using the natural light that pours in from the windows of the pizzeria. Anyone who's been to Di Fara often enough will recognize the look Eddie's captured here. It's a rare sort of playfulness Dom shows sometimes when he's not busy, busy, busy churning out pizza and turns instead to gently razzing a customer.
I spotted this shot on Facebook and couldn't help but wonder what it all meant. So I checked in with our man Andrew Janjigian, who just happens to 9-5 it at America's Test Kitchen. Turns out he took the photo and was on location during the filming of the video to be included on next season of the PBS show America's Test Kitchen. Andrew was there because his New York-style pie, beloved by us, is going to be one of the featured recipes in the season lineup. We will have to wait until the show airs to see what Chris and Dom got up to, but in the meantime, check out the other pictures from the shoot on the Di Fara's Facebook page.
Hey Slice'rs—no big news to break here. We told you back in last July that Dom DeMarco Jr., son of the legendary pizzaman at Brooklyn's planning to open a chain of pizzerias in Las Vegas. That plan is finally starting to come to fruition and we've got a few pictures of the first location in progress.
Here's the tweet that inspired this post:
Yes, @alexandrak, such a post does exist, and if your boyfriend finds what I'm about to write all TL;DR, he can check it out: The 10 Best Pizzas in NYC » That's a solid list, no doubt. And if his NYC pizza research stops there, I'm sure he'd be happy. But I think simply dropping a best-of list on a New York newbie does him a bit of a disservice. After all, he's moving to a pizza mecca. I think a little context is in order.
When deciding on this list, certainly history, setting, and pedigree had an impact, but in the end, it was all about the flavor. We didn't care whether the joint was 80 years old, or 8 months old, as long as they served a tasty pie. And here they are. Our favorite pizzas in the city. A mix of the old, a mix of the new, a representation of most of the boroughs, a bit of something delicious for everyone.
You might have already seen the Di Fara short documentary The Best Thing I Ever Done here on Slice (indeed, I just embedded it above again), but if you live in NYC, you can see it again, on the big screen, followed by a Q&A session with proprietor Dom DeMarco's daughter Margaret — and possibly Dom himself, if he's feeling up to it, says M. Emily MacKenzie, the film's director.
Last week, Chicago food writer Michael Nagrant emailed me asking for some tips on scoring a Di Fara pizza in as little time as possible. "Haha, buddy," I said. "How 'bout after I finish moving this mountain?" But I told him that Di Fara had been experimenting with taking pizza orders on Facebook. "Maybe you could try that. Lemme know if it works. I'm really curious." Well, here's Mike's report.
On Di Fara's Facebook page, someone asks: "Can we place orders via facebook???" To which the Di Fara page improbably answers: "I do not mind at all allowing orders to be placed via facebook. the only issue is I only check in to facebook a certain time of day and if its not placed within that window of time , I may miss it ...happens often ! if you know a day or two in advance that you intend to come in, that is always helpful ..."
Di Fara, when it's firing on all cylinders, is delicious. Now add to that a concentrated hit of sweet, roasted tomato flavor — the halved orbs take on just a hint of charring in the oven. Of all the "specialty" toppings at Di Fara, this is my favorite. And like those toppings, there's a hefty $2 surcharge on top of the $5 hit for a plain slice. To bring an otherwise $7 slice down in price, I suggest ordering this by the pie; at $30 it comes out to an almost reasonable $3.75 a pop.
Over on Di Fara's Facebook page (yes, the legendary Brooklyn pizzeria has one), the DeMarco family takes the time to explain the seeming randomness with the midday break, which is scheduled to happen between 4 and 6 p.m.
Did you know that legendary Brooklyn pizzaman Dom DeMarco met his wife in the pizzeria he worked at before opening Di Fara? She used to come in and eat lunch there every day. He liked her because she sat alone — "She must be a nice girl," I thought. Documentary filmmaker MargaretEmily MacKenzie reveals that bit of trivia and more in this wonderful portrait of DeMarco, his family, and of course, his pizzeria, Di Fara, called The Best Thing I Ever Done. It's beautifully shot and tells so much more of the Di Fara/DeMarco story than has ever been...