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DeMarco's Revisited

  • g

I am a pizza psycho. Been everywhere multiple times including DiFara's. In fact, I have to go to New Haven Tuesday on business and am planning to hit Sally's, Pepe's and for the first time Modern (all in one day). So take it from me that when DeMarco's is on its game, which is hit and miss, it rivals any slice in the city.

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  1. I agree. I have long been a fan of DiFara in Brooklyn so when I heard that his offspring were opening a place in Manhattan (DeMarco's), I was very excited. I went on Friday just as a square pie was coming out of the oven. Delicious. Sadly, it is still very hit or miss.

    DeMarco's is on Houston, just before 6th Ave. Definitely worth a stop for any pizza lover.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Traz0r

      Here's the deal with DeMarco's: (two of my close friends are waitresses)

      The pizzeria is run by the DeMarco kids. The restaurant/bar is not.

      The kids hired a pizza chef to run the place. On some days, neither the kids nor a qualified pizza chef works there. In other words, there's a damn good reason why their pizza is hit or miss.

      That is all.

      1. re: Boots
        guttergourmet's wife

        Very interesting. I only go to the slice place and only eat when its fresh out of the oven. Prefer the round to the square unlike DiFara's where either is heaven.

        1. re: guttergourmet's wife

          It's really a shame DeMarco's is so inconsistent because DiFara is easily the best pizza on the planet. That said, there is something to be said for taking that long train ride out to Brooklyn to see the real "character" of the DiFara location.

    2. b
      Bill Strzempek

      Modern was terrific a few weeks ago. Bring me back a clams casino pie please...

      1. we went to the restaurant today and had a really lame pizza (a demarco's special). it was served by a guy who looked like he was seriously overdue for a bath. the tv was blaring cartoon network, the salad was drowning in balsamic vinegar, and the pizza was a soggy mess (either the sauce was runny or the toppings were). we brought a friend from out of town and i was totally mortified.

        i'd stick to the slices -- at least when they're a miss, you're only out 2.75 and you can still eat somewhere else.

        1. Go to Pizza Box, one block North on Bleecker, for the best slice in the city.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Josh

            Good slice, but they were shut down by the health dept. once, so I'm just a tad leery. Best $5 backyard dining experience in downtown Manhattan (slice and a cold beer), however, hands down.

          2. I was an early defender of DeMarco's. My experiences were hit and miss, but I figured it made sense to give them time to hit their stride.

            Sadly, my perception is the pizza has only gotten worse over time. Cheese is glopped on unevenly, and slices are reheated on foil. Every once in a while, someone reports a positive experience, which prompts me to try again. Usually, however, I find myself wishing I'd just gone out to Difara's.

            PS: I know many disagree, but I personally prefer Modern to Sally's and Pepe's.

            1 Reply
            1. re: a&w

              tried Modern twice last week for the first time and was totally blown away. Had an entire sausage pie, mediume, which could easily feed 3. Could be a contender for no. 1 in the universe! Had a white clam at Pepe's which was quintessential Connecticut. also, don't miss Louis' Lunch, the inventor of the hamburger-not the best burger, but atmosphere was great- no ketchup-"this ain't burger king, you can't have it your way, you have it our way or you get nothin"-gotta love it.

            2. I went to DeMarco's once when they first opened. My boyfriend and I agreed that our slices were some of the best we've ever had (though we haven't made it to DiFara's yet). Because everyone says the place is so hit or miss, I've been afraid to go back ever since. I don't want my memories to be ruined.

              1. I had a decent slice the first time I tried DeMarco's. Every trip since has provided me with a piece of cardboard covered in a sauce/cheese/oil concoction that could have been poured off into a glass and sipped through a straw.

                My last two trips to DeMarco's immediately followed visits to DiFara. Very sad.

                1. In your opinion, what's the best pizza (whole pie) in Manhattan? Thanks.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AHDNYC

                    I know you didn't ask me but IMO Patsy's on 1st Ave at 117 Street, and John's of Bleecker St are the best - in that order. I have had great pies at John's on 64 St off 1st Ave also but it was a long time ago. Also Totonno's on 2nd Ave near 82 St was great when it first opened but went downhill fast, maybe they have made a comeback but I wouldn't know. We tried Lombardi's within the first year they were open and were not impressed. Based on that one time I would class them with Angelo's on 57 Street.

                    There may well be other great places to try but we haven't gotten to them yet.

                    Candido's on 1st Ave at 83 Street went out of business. They made a great pie, very much like a classic Arthur Ave pie but 1st Ave on the UES is a dead zone and very few eateries survive there.

                      1. re: Brian W

                        "We tried Lombardi's within the first year they were open and were not impressed." Huh? I'm confused. I thought Lombardi's opened decades and decades ago. Please clarify!

                        1. re: Pan

                          the original lombardi's opened over 100 years ago but closed down in the 1950s when gennaro lombardi passed away. it was then reopened down the street from the original location in 1994.

                          so while it's true that it's the first pizzeria in america, it's not the oldest continuously operating pizzeria in the country. that distinction goes to the original totonno's in coney island (i believe).

                      2. re: AHDNYC

                        No. 1 is still John's of Bleecker, then Patsy's on 117th and 1st, then Lombardi's, then Arturo's, Una Pizza Napoletana is good but overrated, 28 Carmine is ok, have not tried the Manhattan franchises of Totonno's or Nick's having been to the originals, Angelo's on 55th and 2nd (haven't been to the one on 57th) is quite good with a good pedigree, the various Patsy's licensees are adequste, Arturo's is pretty good, Joe's off Bleecker is way overrated. There are dozens of other slice places that have something going for them too but you said whole pies only so I'll take a breather.

                      3. I was at a party last night down on Mercer Street.. Having to leave the place before the third bottle of vodka was opened, I decided to go for a walk. I thought I was walking North when I came upon Demarcos Pizza.. Bleary eyed and hungry I stumbled into the pizza place.. I dont remember much except there were a few dried out, brown looking slices scattered over several pizza trays.. There was also a whole pie of Sicilian.. When I asked for a slice of the Sicilian, they pulled out this crappy little slice from somewhere else.. I told the guy I wanted a corner cut of the somewhat new looking pie and he looked at me with attitude.. I insisted he cut me a slice off the new pie.. He put it in the oven for about a minute or so and gave it to me slightly warm..

                        I dont know if it was the fact that I was out of my mind or not.. But the Slice was really good.. Loved the sauce, loved the crust, I would like to go back and try it in the light of day..

                        However, it seems very problematic to see the state of affairs they let there normal slices get to.. The men behind the counter seemed really disinterested with there work. They looked rough, unkept, and not too comfortable speaking English.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Daniel76

                          What's sad is, I can't imagine getting that kind of treatment at their father's place. I'm hardly a regular at DiFara's, not by a long shot, but what impresses me, apart from the pizza itself, is that I have always been treated well there.

                          If this was my restaurant, and I was reading about this type of indifference to customers, I would want to make some serious changes. A good eating establishment is not just about respect for ingredients. That's a message that a visit to the original DiFara's will drive home.

                        2. Can anybody get back to the best slices? I am originally from NY, and will be visiting next weekend? I would kill to find a great classic NY slice - like the kind John Travolta ate in Saturday Night Fever.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jpolance

                            I like Vinny Vincenz on 1st Ave. between 14th & 13th street. and Rosario's on the LES (Stanton and Orchard), but I'm biased 'cause I live in the neighborhood.

                            There's a little bit about the best slice in all of NYC here:

                            Are you looking in Manhattan only or open to all boroughs?

                            Ed Levine laments the sad state of pizza by the slice

                            This link may amuse you:

                          2. IMHO, here's my ranking of pizzerias by the slice with comments:

                            1) DiFara's - Worth the ride out to Brooklyn and the wait while
                            he grates 3 types of cheeses
                            2) Vezzo/Posto (same owner and there's a third one south of
                            14th) - different type of slice as the crust is super thin. For
                            some reason, the whole pies taste better than the slice.
                            3) Joe's
                            4) Singas - curious but tasty mini-pies
                            5) DeMarco's - like everyone else's comments, very hit or miss

                            For pie-only places:
                            1) Pepe's - it's the age-old debate of Pepe's or Sally's. I find
                            it easier to get table at Pepe's because they keep better hours
                            and they have a second location in Fairfield now.
                            2) Patsy's in East Harlem - very close second.
                            3) Grimaldi's - very close 3rd, but when you add the proximity
                            to Fulton Landing and it's ice cream shop...
                            4) Totonno's in Brooklyn - Solid pie. Kind of surlier service
                            than usual. Very worthwhile if near Coney Island. Manhattan
                            outposts are a shadow of the Brooklyn original
                            5) Vezzo/Posto (slices too) - Very unique, super thin crust
                            which is achieve by peforating holes in the pre-made crust.
                            Don't let the pre-made dissuade you. Though they may look like a
                            pile of wraps before making, they are heavenly out of the oven.
                            6) Arturo - solid charcoal oven pie.
                            7) John's (Bleecker NOT Times Sq.) - Good pie but haven't been back for other reasons.
                            8) Una Pizza Napolenta - Good pie, but bucho bucks.
                            9) Pala - different type of pie. a little pricy
                            10) No. 28 - good brick oven pie, but nothing to write home
                            11) Angelo's - ditto
                            12) L'asso (mini-pie) - Good mini pie w/ proscuitto
                            13) Naples 45 - A more free-spending dept in my company orders
                            delivery from them, so I've only had their pies 2 hours after
                            they've come out of the oven as I vulture in the conference
                            room. Yet I still find them tasty.
                            14) Lombardi's - Go only for the nostalgia of the first pizzeria
                            15) Patsy's (the chain) - Not bad for a chain.

                            On the list to try
                            - Lazarra
                            - Sally's
                            - Modern Apizza
                            - Apizz/Fiorno
                            - Cronkite - LES
                            - Piola
                            - Vinny Vincenz - East Village
                            - Luzzo's - East Village
                            - Lil Frankie's - East Village
                            - Denino's - Staten Island
                            - Johnny's pizza - Mount Vernon
                            - Nick's - 1814 2nd Ave at 94th St
                            - Sal and Carmine's - Bway and 102nd street.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: charshiu

                              Nice rundown, charshiu! So in the age-old debate of New Haven pizzerias you choose Pepe's, but if I'm not mistaken you haven't been to the alternatives. And is Patsy's really that close to Pepe's? Finally, where would DiFara rank on your top pie-only places?

                              As for the remainder of those on your list, of the three I've tried I rank them: 1. Lil' Frankie's, 2. Nick's, fairly close to each other, then 3. Sal and Carmine, which isn't the same genre, more of a takeout slice place. In addition, the S&C slice is a real oddball, with a dominant flavor of salt, followed by sauce and cheese.

                              You should also add Franny's on Flatbush in Brooklyn to your list. It's on mine.

                              1. re: Spoony Bard

                                Thanks for pointing me in the right direction for the balance of my list. I'll let you know how I find them.

                                Yeah, I'm dying to try Sally's. In 2006, I've tried to go to Sally's 4 times and it was closed on 3 of the ocassions and had a ridiculous line the other time, so I've always been shunted to Pepe's (not that that was a bad thing). So mSally's is only not up there b/c of their more restricted hours and days.

                                Patsy's vs. Pepe's: Both are charcoal fired producing a fabulous crust. I would say that's where the similarity ends. Patsy's is a fairly neat affair with an approximately round pie and neat toppings whereas Pepe's is a mishapen mess of a pie with toppings scattered haphazardly. Both are tasty, but I like the mishapen mess. :)

                                Throwing DiFara into the mix. Ooooh that's a tough one. Kind of like deciding which one of your kids you would pull from a burning car wreck. I would have to say DiFara. No I mean Pepe. No I mean Patsy's. Well you get the idea.

                                1. re: charshiu

                                  I'll take Modern over Peppe's and Sally's.

                                  1. re: guttergourmet

                                    I would agree with you just based upon consistency. I have had some of the most amazing, memorable pies at Pepes as well as Sallys, but I have also had some of the worst at both places. I have not had these wild inconsistencies at Modern.

                                  2. re: charshiu

                                    So I got myself over to Cronkite and had the margherita, a sausage and a proscuitto/arugula. All were super yummy. The crust was thin yet the slice was able to stay up without the fold. For a group of five w/ soft drinks the bill was about $22/head.

                                    In my personal and unscientific ranking, I'd have to put it at 7.5 b/w John's and Una Pizza Neoplitana.

                                2. re: charshiu

                                  Don't know if you saw it, but there was recently mention on Tristate board that a branch of Modern may have opened in New Rochelle but it was not 100% confirmed, although from the description it seems likely.
                                  Do any of you pizza psychos know if this is true?


                                3. Thanks for the suggestions. I'm probably going to stick to Manhattan. I'm originally from The Bronx, and I can always picture the storefront pizzerias that usually had a window out to the sidewalk. They weren't ever famous places, but did a great classic NY slice. That's what I'm looking for.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jpolance

                                    If you are looking for a good, classic slice in Manhattan, you should go to Joe's.
                                    I had a DeMarco's slice last week and it was the most vile thing I have had in quite some time. Sauce straight out of a jar and the cheese had a strange, gloppy consistency. Very oily, but not in a good way.

                                  2. Sally's
                                    then Pepe's
                                    then Difara
                                    then Modern
                                    then mostly junk beyond that

                                    i've been a customer of Difara for many years- when she first opened Dimarco, i came in with my kid one day for some slices. the daughter, on recognizing me, said to me "oh no, please no, my pizzaola isn't here today..." knowing that i knew Dom, her father, quite well and was a regular out there. and she was right- the slices were close, but nothing compared to the real deal. however, i do believe that just on the strength of her ingredients alone, the slices are better than most anything around- san marzano tomatoes, fiore de latte, grand padana, parm regg, a bit of basil- how bad could it be.
                                    long live Flo Consiglio (wife of Sal of Sally's and keeper of the flame) and Dominic Demarco (mr. difara to you and keeper of the other flame). we once almost had dom convinced that he should come with us to new haven with his cheese and concepts and we'd bake his pizza in sally's 100+ year old brick ovens (they were bakers ovens before pizza ovens- did you know the oven at the spot is the original pepe's oven?)- and he was very intrigued with the idea- how he cranks out those world class pies out of that junky metal oven i'll never know- he told me, in a quiet intimate moment at the end of the night one night, that, and i quote the master, "it's all how you keep a da flame" !!!!!!!!!!! dig it fb

                                    1. I was at DeMarco's a few weeks ago. Three young woman before me ordered the the slices that had been sitting, and I was given a slice fresh out of the oven.
                                      I was hopeful.
                                      The sauce and cheese slid off the crust, which was cracking apart. Good ingredients do not a great slice make.
                                      I've been trying to replicate my first memorable experience at DeMarco's. I'm giving up my $2.75 gambling addiction now.
                                      (I'm one of those people who doesn't understand the appeal of Joe's. Is there a secret password you have to use? Average, average, average, based on two visits...)