Wednesday, September 9, 2009

DiFara Pizza

In the city and the outer boroughs, many people think that any and all pizza is "Good New York Pizza," but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, I've had the best pizza of my life in New York, but I’ve also had the worst. Finding good pizza in New York is like finding good Chinese food in your neighborhood – an ongoing quest (and one that doesn’t look like it’ll ever end well out here in Astoria, at least on the Chinese front). But I think the search for the perfect pizza may have finally come to an end. Last weekend we visited DiFara Pizza, in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, and it was easily the best pizza we’ve ever had in our lives.

First, a little bit of history about Di Fara:

The owner and sculptor of all the pizza made here is a little old man named Domenico De Marco. He emigrated to Brooklyn from the Province of Caserta, Italy, in 1959, and shortly after he opened a small hole-in-the-wall pizza joint on Avenue J and 14th street with his business partner Farina. On creating a name for their restaurant, the partners decided to combine their own - Di for De Marco, and Fara, for Farina. The name lives on, but in 1978 De Marco bought out his partner and continued running the pizza joint that it is today.

When you walk into Di Fara there will invariably be a number of other people already cramped up front, waiting for their pizza, admiring the work that Mr. De Marco is doing, and eyeing the tables, looking for a spot to free up. The place itself is nothing special, almost divey, and there are only a handful of tables and chairs messily strewn around.

Upon entering you have to make your way up to the counter and ask to be put on the list for a pie (considering slices are $5 apiece, while a pie is comparably lower at $25, it doesn’t make sense to get anything else). We placed an order for a pepperoni pizza at 12:15, just 15 minutes after the place had opened, and we were told it would take about 45 minutes for our pie to be ready. The reason for the long wait is that Mr. De Marco makes every single pizza by hand, and each pie is made fresh to order. It is a truly amazing to watch this man make pizza. It's almost as if he was born for the sole purpose of putting these beautiful pies together so delicately and artfully. People kept flowing in steadily, but Mr. De Marco maintained an even pace, moving no faster or slower than when there were less people in the shop.

After waiting for slightly over and hour, starving, Alex and I began to wonder if the pizza would be worth it. Although we were able to drive to DiFara in less than half an hour, we usually don’t have a car at our disposal so a trip here would definitely take over an hour at any other time. Luckily we didn’t have to ponder much longer. At around 1:30 they finally called out our name and we approached the counter to pick up our pizza. The pie comes out bubbling from the wood fired stove and Mr. De Marco clips fresh basil over the pizza, then spreads a liberal handful of Parmesan cheese over the top. The final touch is a moderate dousing of olive oil, poured from an old tin can that looks like it was once used to water plants.

Then the eating began.

When I tell you that this was the most amazing pizza I have ever eaten, I am not lying. Not only was this the most amazing pizza I have ever eaten, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten, period.

Usually I like to fold my pizza in half, like a taco, but the crust was so crispy and crusty that it was impossible to fold. You can literally hold the crust at one end and the pizza will remain completely flat in the air on the other. Upon the first bite, Alex and I just looked at each other in amazement - there was no question that this was the best pizza we had ever eaten. All of the flavors were right up front, but none shined any more than the others. The sweet tang of the tomato sauce, the bitter bite of the cheese, the freshness of the basil and the earthiness of the olive oil all combined to create sheer pizza perfection.

It was so incredible we proceeded to eat the entire pie all to ourselves. We may have waited for our pizza 5 times as long as it took us to finish it, but I would honestly wait twice as long for food this good.

The pepperoni pie cost $27, which may seem a bit pricey for pizza, but it was worth every penny. Between that and the 3 sodas we consumed our total bill was $33, and it still felt like a steal. We’ve eaten meals that cost 5 times this much that haven’t been 1/5 as good.

If you like pizza, or food in general, then you must visit DiFara. It took us over a year of talking about it to finally make the trek out there, but now that we have, I imagine it won’t take us nearly as long to return.

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