In what may be the finale for JohnandElana pizza month part 1, this week’s review is of Di Fara Pizza in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. Admittedly, Elana and I are late to the Di Fara party; the pizzeria has been making headlines for quite some time. Depending on who you talk to, Di Fara has been hailed as everything from the best pizza in NYC to the best pizza in the world. Having heard and read so much about it, I can never honestly remember a meal that has had this much build up.
After waiting on line for a few minutes, we enter this pizza cathedral. It is not an impressive looking place by any means: crooked picture frames, worn floors, cheap tables scattered about – but we’re not here for the decor, nor is anyone else.
We’re here to sample the fine craftsmanship of legendary pizza man, Dom De Marco…who, as legend has it, has made every single pie in the history of Di Fara’s since its opening in 1959. Watching him do his thing is quite entertaining. With his daughters taking the orders of hungry customers, Dom shuffles around the area surrounding the pizza oven doing his thing. Each pie undergoes a series of meticulous and carefully observed steps: First – Dom relaxingly stretches the dough and places it on the peel; second – in the oven the pie goes; third – after substantially baking in the oven for several minutes, Dom pulls the finished pizza out of the oven with his bare hands and places it in a box; fourth – with scissors in one hand and a bushel of basil on the other, Dom cuts up said bushel and makes it rain basil leaves on yo’ pizza; fifth – some sort of grated cheese, most likely parmesan, is heartily sprinkled upon the scorching hot pizza; and last, Dom drizzles olive oil onto the pie. He then cuts it up into slices.
All of the aforementioned steps are, for the most part, done by Dom. This is both a good, and perhaps a bad thing. The good – you know that only master pizza man Dom De Marco will be making your pie. The bad – the wait times can be killer. Combined with its insane popularity, and a shady dial-in system in which regulars swoop in and retrieve pies with minimal wait times, we waited over an hour and 45 minutes from the time we placed our order to get our pie. “Elana!” shouts one of Dom’s daughters – our pie is ready. Elana goes to the counter while I stay behind to guard the tables (there are not many). This had better be &$%^@# worth it!
And it is. First of all, Di Fara’s pie is essentially what I consider to be an American slice. It is cooked in what appears to be a Baker’s Pride Oven without the exposure to hot scorching open flames like pizzas cooked Neapolitan style. The look, weight, and feel of the slice is similar to Artichoke: a mostly stiff, blackened crust, with basil leaves and cheese that still appear to be melting as it sits before us – but it is even more substantial. The Di Fara pie has more cheese on it. The end result is a delicious product from start to finish. The well done portions of the crust are every bit as delicious as the softer, cheesier parts of the pie. Each bite contains perfect levels of salt, tomato, cheese, and bread. Indeed, portions of it are just that: perfect.
I say “portions” with an oh-so-slight reservation – some of the pie isn’t as well cooked as other portions of the pie. To some, this may give the pie character but, to me, I found myself looking for the more well-done slices. Having said that, we completely devour the pie, and can honestly say that this is the best pie I have had in the continental U.S. Half of our pie had pepperoni which was delicious – warped, hot, and crispy – it added a nice punch to already outrageous foundation.
Like the saying goes, the best things come to those who wait. You owe it yourself to try a Di Fara pie if you have not already. Now, if someone can provide me with any tips on cutting the line for next time – please feel free.
Movie Equivalent – Animal House