Di Fara Pizza
|Di Fara Pizza|
The facade of Di Fara Pizza
|Current owner(s)||Domenico DeMarco|
|Street address||1424 Avenue J (between East 14th Street and East 15th Street)|
|City||New York City|
|Other locations||Las Vegas|
Di Fara Pizza is a pizzeria located at 1424 Avenue J in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, New York City. Situated between East 14th and East 15th Streets, the restaurant has been owned and operated by Domenico DeMarco since 1964.
It is widely regarded as one of the best pizzerias in New York City. Di Fara has been labeled the "Best... pizza in New York" several times by many publications, including New York and the online publication Serious Eats. The New York Times called the restaurant: "one of the most acclaimed and sought-after pizza shops in New York City". In 2011, Zagats gave the restaurant the top pizza restaurant food rating in New York City, and in 2013, Frommer's called its pizza "the Best Hand-Made Pizza in New York City". Chef Anthony Bourdain has called the restaurant's pizza "the best of the best."
DeMarco opened Di Fara after emigrating from the Province of Caserta, Italy, in 1959. He said in a 2004 interview:
I'm 69 years old. I've been in Brooklyn since 1959. I'm from Provincia di Caserta in Italy, near Napoli. When I got here, I spent three months in Long Island, in Huntington, working on a farm... then somebody put a bug in my head and said there's a good spot on Avenue J. I didn't even know Avenue J existed. So I come over here with my accountant on a Saturday night, and this corner was for rent. It was so crowded, the street. So I take the phone number, I call the landlord, and he says to come see me Sunday, make sure you bring a deposit. When I opened the store, my partner's name was Farina. My name is DeMarco. So when the lawyer made the paper, he put the two names together. Di Fara. Di for me, and Fara for him. I bought my partner out in 1978, I think. I kept the same name; I didn't bother changing it.
Each pizza pie is handmade by DeMarco, so the pizzeria is closed when he is not available. He "believe[s] only one guy should make the pizza.” Three of his seven children work in the back area of the restaurant.
He makes 100 to 150 pies a day, and does so by cutting fresh basil over the pies with a pair of kitchen scissors. DeMarco uses imported ingredients – flour, extra-virgin olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese from Casapulla, freshly grated grana padano (a slightly salty hard cow's milk cheese), three types of mozzarella cheese, and hand-grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese are all from Italy, and the basil and oregano are from Israel. In a windowsill flower box, he grows thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, and hot peppers.
The pizzas bake for a few minutes at about 800 °F (427 °C). The pizzas are described as thin-crust and crispy, slightly shy of burnt, with a thin layer of savory, subtle, tangy sauce. It is served over a sheet of wax paper, which is in turn over a paper plate. DeMarco serves classic New York-style pizza and Sicilian-style square pies.
The nondescript restaurant is located on Avenue J next to a 99-cent store. The 15-seat pizzeria is described as having a worn linoleum tile floor and harsh fluorescent lights, but the pizzeria is so popular that crowds sometimes form on the sidewalk outside, as the wait can be as long as one to two hours.
In his 1998 book The Eclectic Gourmet Guide to Greater New York City, Jim Leff called the sauce used by the restaurant:
a restrained, low profile masterpiece of optimal acidity and spicing (bolstered by a goodly shake of black pepper). Like everything here it's delicious in a magically old-fashioned way.
Since The Village Voice, a New York City newspaper in Lower Manhattan, put DeMarco on its cover and proclaimed it as one of the "Best Italian restaurants", Di Fara has been regarded as a top pizzeria by publications like the Daily News. Di Fara has received many awards, and has been labeled the "Best... pizza in New York" several times by many publications, including New York and the online publication Serious Eats. In 2004, New York Times critic Eric Asimov called it "surely the best by-the-slice pizza in New York", and in 2006, The New York Sun called it "the city's finest pizza".
In 2007, chef Anthony Bourdain called the restaurant's pizza "the best of the best" in the book Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. In 2008, The Village Voice wrote that "the best pizza in all New York is at Di Fara's", and Zagats gave it a food rating of 27, placing it among the top 15 restaurants of any type in New York City. The New York Times wrote in 2009 that Di Fara is "one of the most acclaimed and sought-after pizza shops in New York City".
In 2011, Zagats again gave the restaurant a food rating of 27, the top pizza restaurant food rating in New York City. That year, the New York Daily News readers rated it the #1 pizza in the city. In 2013, Zagats yet again gave the restaurant a food rating of 27, with a decor rating of 6. Also in 2013, Frommer's called it's pizza the Best Hand-Made Pizza in New York City.
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- "Best of New York's cheese pizza slice: DiFara's comes out ahead of Artichoke and famed Patsy's". NY Daily News. January 16, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- 2013 New York City Restaurants – Zagat Survey. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
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- The New York Observer on June 12, 2007: Pizzeria One With Everything—Except the Health Department
- New York Times on July 18, 2004: Domenico DeMarco told reporter Jeff Vandam secrets of the slice