New Yorkers are always on the quest for the best slice of pizza pie and I am no exception. It seems that there’s always another pizza joint popping up somewhere with claims about being the best pie in New York City. And I always feel compelled to find out for myself. DiFara’s Pizza has been around since 1965, and I suppose I didn’t feel quite so compelled to try his pizza since it wasn’t the newest thing around. My mistake. Owner Dom DeMarco is churning out some of the best slices around.
I hate to admit this, but I have lived in New York City for nearly eight years and I only recently tried my first slice of Di Fara’s pizza. I blame it on all of the bad press that I have read–the long lines, the long wait, the expensive slices ($5.00 per slice + $1.00 for toppings). Yes, I was one of those people that figured that no slice of pizza could possibly be worth a whopping $5.00. I stand corrected.
Last Sunday, Larry and I were walking through Brooklyn and we ended up at Avenue I and Ocean Avenue, just a short walk to Avenue J and E 15th Street where Di Fara’s occupies a very unassuming corner. From the outside, you would never know what culinary delights await inside. So we made the decision to drop in, get a quick slice, just a snack really, since we would be having dinner at home in only a few more hours. We arrived at Di Fara’s and to our great surprise and delight, we didn’t find the legendary line snaking out the front door and down the sidewalk. The delight soon turned to despair as I turned to Larry and said, “they must be closed today”, but upon further inspection they were open. We had hit it on a slow day.
We were elated. Or at least I was. We swung the front door open to find a very disorganized group of people standing around watching Dom DeMarco, hunched over the counter, stretching the dough, swirling big circles of bright red tomato sauce around the dough, sprinkling the cheese and placing the toppings onto his pizza pies. We attempted to find the “line” and finally was told by a young gentleman there that, “in a minute, she will ask if anyone hasn’t ordered yet”. “She” was the lady standing at the counter writing mysterious things down on a pad of paper and then building to go pizza boxes, seemingly ignoring all the hungry mouths that were waiting on some hot pizza. After a few minutes she finally asked if anyone needs to order, and I shouted my order of two slices across the sea of people and then moved through the crowd at an attempt to snag a seat.
We soon found a seat, no small feat in this tiny space. I think there is seating for about 16 people. We sat and began to watch the clock tick away, the minute hand circling the clock over and over. I wondered why in the hell it would take so long to make a couple of slices of pizza. Total elapsed time since ordering to first bite was about an hour. And then the moment of anticipation arrived. They called my name and I went to the counter to retrieve our much anticipated moment of culinary delight.
It was at that moment that I saw a whole pie, strewn with an assortment of different toppings. Ah! I proclaimed (in my head), ”so this is why it takes so long to get a slice.” It seems that they wait until enough people have ordered a slice to make a whole pie and then they bake the pie. So, if you haven’t been and you’re planning on going, heed this advice and buy a whole pie. You will be glad that you did.
The pizza dough was thin and chewy, yet not tough. The sauce was perfectly balanced and the pepperoni and mushrooms tasted like top quality products, probably one of the reasons for the high price. And speaking of price, after my first visit to Di Fara’s I have learned the best way to go is to order a whole pie (about $32.00 after tax is added).
So the next time you’re thinking about heading out to try that newest, trendiest pizza in New York, think again, hop on the Q train, hop off at Avenue J and you’re only about one block from the best, really the best, pizza in the city.