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DiFara's ripped by Rosengarten

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from David Rosengarten's latest ezine...forgive me if I am violating C'hound policy by copying and pasting from the email I received (the ezine is free).

Pizza with a Smile.....or Not

FILED: January 16, 2007

Way back in January, 2002, I published a piece in The Rosengarten Report about New York City pizza—classifying the different types, as well as identifying the very best pizzerias in the five boroughs. I found my #1 "classic New York pizza" at a very old, very small pizza parlor in the heart of Brooklyn called Di Fara, run by Domenic De Marco. "Virtually no one outside of the neighborhood knows about this place," I wrote, "so hurry here please, before De Marco does something sensible like retire."

If you read that piece, I hope you took my advice. Five years later, De Marco is a superstar to a much, much wider public. He has not retired. He is still around, receiving accolades on a regular basis from all quarters; the 2007 Zagat Survey, for example, calls Di Fara pizza "da best pizza in Noo Yawk," and nary a freshly researched New York pizza story fails to agree. (The current issue of New York magazine calls De Marco "the last of the old pizza masters.")

Having not been back to Di Fara since all this happened, I thought it was high time I got myself over to Avenue J to see how the old maestro has handled the boom.....and to see whether you should put this place on your itinerary. I set out from Manhattan on a warm, sunny, jacket-less Saturday in January, my spirits buoyed by the unusual weather.

As I approached Di Fara, at about 3:45 PM, I caught my first glimpse of The Modern Disaster: lines pouring out onto the once-tranquil street. The good news: The people in line were not freezing. The bad news: They were confused and surly.

I saw two lines on the sidewalk: one had about 6 people and led to a window outside the store, the other line had about 10 people and led directly to the counter inside the store. Not knowing quite what to make of the two lines, or which one to join—and with no signs or indications—I took a guess, asking someone on the "window" line if this line was for take-out. "That would be a good guess," the waiting girl told me. "That's what we thought. But it's not. You can take out from either line."

All right. Fair enough. "So what's the difference between the two lines?" I asked. She pointed at the longer line, the one going in the door, and said "that one's faster." Hmmmm. Interesting.

Couldn't help myself. "If that one's faster," I gently asked, "how come you're on this line?" At that point a sweatshirt-clad ex-hippie of a certain age in front of her turned abruptly to me and said: "because we're idiots."

Allrighty. This guy either originally came to us from hell, or, perhaps, waiting on a slow line for a slice of 'za nudged him in a demonic direction. I needed more info. Exactly how long had he been waiting?

I cannot answer that queston, but I can tell you this: I got on the counter line, the longer one......and, other than a lot of tile-counting, nothing happened for 30 minutes except the capture of a few centimeters. That's not a typo—thirty minutes.

What I observed was this. The old guy, De Marco, was making every single pizza by hand (normally a good thing!). After obsessing about the placement of the dough on the pizza paddle, and all the other details, he might—if toppings were ordered—disappear into the back room for two or three minutes to pick up a handful of mushrooms.

Very occasionally, the only other worker in the place, De Marco's son, would stride from the back room with a handful of mushrooms or sausage.

So.....including the making of the pie, the placement of the pizza in the oven (sometimes requiring a stepladder), the removal, the final grating of cheese on the cooked pie (for which the cheese is grated pie-by-pie, as the pies come out of the oven), the final placement of fresh basil leaves on each pie (for which the basil is snipped pie-by-pie by scissors set on the other side of the store), and the final drizzle of olive oil (which, blessedly, is only a few feet behind De Marco's finishing spot).....the total labor time (not including cooking) for each pie is probably a good 4-5 minutes. Hey, artisanal makes me happy! And you may want to trek to Brooklyn to see this dinosaur operation!

But here's what one disorganized man taking 4-5 minutes per pie does to a line of 30 people. After about half an hour of waiting, I started counting pies in the oven like a card shark counts aces at the casino during blackjack. I was able to pretty much identify who in line was waiting for each pie—except for De Marco's mistakes, which were many.

At about that time (30 minutes), De Marco looked up at the guy at the front of the line and said "what do you want?" The guy kept his cool pretty well, but said "I already ordered a pie, half mushroom, half pepperoni." De Marco said nothing, but turned around and started making a pie.....half mushrooms, half pepperoni.

Because that guy was in line before I arrived, I'm guessing he had given his order at least 35 minutes earlier, and that it had taken him 30-50 minutes in line before he gave his order the first time. So, after waiting at least an hour, maybe closer to an hour and a half, he now had to put his order in a second time and continued to wait for his pie.

Also at that moment, I became aware that the only pies in the oven were whole pies with intended buyers—that there were no slice-dedicated pies in the oven.

I was there with two friends, who had been lucky enough to move in on one of the few tables in the place—and all we wanted was three slices of the famous pizza (for this was the first stop on a Brooklyn pizza odyssey). So, concerned that when I got to the front of the line there'd be no slices.....and now, after 35 minutes, within one human rank of reaching the counter.....and spotting De Marco's son in a brief appearance from the back room.....I asked the pizza progeny politely "are you guys serving slices?"

Simple and fair question, yes?......especially for a man who has waited quietly for over half an hour in line. De Marco Jr. darted his eyes in my direction and growled "whatever comes outta the oven."

Hmmm. Having failed Psychic Prediction in high school, I had no idea whether that meant I'd be seeing slices anytime soon. But while I was pondering my field position, my odds, my options—like get the hell out of hell—an unfortunate soul, a few inches to my left and slightly ahead of me, who had obviously been pushed to her own personal breaking point, brayed the following sweet words at me: "Don't push into line!"

Ever the reasonable philosopher, and truly concerned that she misunderstood, I responded thusly: "No, no, I'm not ordering slices—I'm just asking if there will be slices available so I know whether I should stay or not." "Doesn't matter!" she shoots back. "You don't talk to them until you're the first one in line!!"

Oh dear. A handful of cheese and tomatoes on a piece of dough has ruptured civilization. I quickly lost my appetite, and my desire to stay the course.

One of my companions was a great eating buddy from Florida who, from his table, sensed my distress. When he walked over to me in the diabolic line, and I expressed the thought that our exit strategy should most definitely be "NOW!"

"Hang on," he said. "We invested all this time. Let's take what we can get when you get to the front of the line." As I watched two lovely girls walk away from the counter with a whole pie and big smiles—and as the oil-splattered counter itself suddenly loomed before my eyes—I agreed.

Getting to the front, of course, is only the first step towards actually getting pizza. It was a good 10 or 15 minutes later before I was asked what I wanted (and I certainly wasn't going to say anything before I was asked, not with Cruella de Ville glaring at me).

"Three slices, please," I said with as much perk as I could muster. "No slices," said the dastardly spawn. I was crushed, like a San Marzano tomato. "But....but....I see two slices of square pizza there," I murmured. "Oh yeah. We got square slices," said pizza boy. "You want 'em?"

I knew from my keen observation that these square slices were sitting on the counter since that moment long, long ago that I got on line—but, with my friend's wisdom ringing in my ears, I agreed to an exchange of cash for two old, cold, square ones. It was the very best I could do.

After a quick re-heating, the square slices and I were sitting at the table with the boys. They were dreadful. Not the boys—they were in high spirits, much higher than mine. But the sodden, oil-soaked squares of pretty flavorless dough were, shall we say, far from the best pizza in Noo Yawk.

"I am really, really sorry," I said to my out-of-town friend, "that you had to come all this way, and waste all this time, for this. I wish you could have tasted a fresh, regular slice of Di Fara pizza."

"Maybe I can," he whispered. Now, with the din of the disgruntled line behind me, I couldn't quite make out the bewitching words that my friend was using at that other table. All I know is that two minutes later, he was back at our table with the square slice still in one hand.....and a fresh, regular slice in the other. "They were very nice," he said," and they'd had enough of their pie."

Mama mia. So it came down to this: to get a slice of pizza at Di Fara, you have to go up to a couple of complete strangers and beg for it. Not that I minded, mind you.....after all, this is major 'za we're discussing......but there's gotta be something wrong with a system that reduces a man to that.

The pizza was good. Really good. Though not quite up to my five-year-old memory. Why? I remember more flavor then; this one was quieter. But it still had that droopy, soupy, wet-but-crisp textural complexity that the best Neapolitan and New York Neapolitan pizzas do. My faith in pizza was still secure—though my faith in humanity was a little shaken.

"OK Dave," said my other friend, a Manhattan buddy. "I know exactly what you need."

"Alcohol?" I asked, over the waning Diet Pepsi.

"Yes," he said, ".....along with your next pizza."

And so it came to pass that one short car ride later I was sitting in another pizza place, this one on Flatbush Avenue, anticipating another pizza experience.

Now, I must confess that at first I was taken aback. As much as I hated my experience at Di Fara, I am used to pizza decor and service like that. That's how it's s'posed to be (though considerably less horrific).

A few minutes later, here I am walking into Franny's, a really cool and trendy, exposed-brick-wall kind of a place with sexy and seductive lighting. Rather than just the pizza maker and his son, there's a bevy of slim and beautiful waitresses, as well as three hip-looking young chefs standing at the brick pizza oven in the open kitchen.

I am disoriented.I am further disoriented by the menu—which seems to have, along with pizza, exactly the kind of big-deal modern restaurant quality-in-simplicity that you find at a place like Zuni Café in San Francisco. Here's a look at the offerings:


New Harvest Olio Verde and Sea Salt- $7

Cranberry Beans and Bottarga di Tonno- $9

Chicken Liver and Pancetta- $9

Beef Tongue with Horseradish Salsa- $9


House-Cured Pancetta, Soppressata and Coppa- $16

Robiola Bosina with Toasted Filone- $9

Potato Croquettes- $9

Escarole with Meyer Lemon and Parmigiano Reggiano- $11

Satsumas and Cara Caras with Hot Pepper and Bitetto Olive Salsa- $11

Cauliflower Salad with Olives, Anchovies and Pickled Vegetables- $11

Baccala Montecato with Fried Polenta- $13


Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt- $8

Tomato, Garlic and Oregano- $12

Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella- $14

Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella with Anchovies and Chilies- $15

Tomato and Provolone Piccante with Wood-Roasted Onions- $14

Tomato and Mozzarella with House-Made Sausage- $15

Buffalo Mozzarella, Garlic and Oregano- $13

Clams, Chilies and Parsley- $16

Looks great, right? But is this the kind of place where you expect to find major New York pizza?

Turns out the answer is.....yes!!! This is pizza on the same plane of quality as Di Fara's pizza! There are a few differences, however. Di Fara's crust, though thin, is thicker than Franny's, more of a throwback to the old New York pizzeria days.

Franny's crust is thinner, lighter, drier, crisper—catering more to that modern sensibility that can't get its pizza thin enough. But.....this is no matzoh pizza; Franny's crust, beautifully charred and blistered, has plenty of sensuality to it. What goes on the pie at Franny's is also a little more modern—not just in the "toppings," but even in the cheese choice (which seems a little less grana-ish at Franny's, a little more Gruyere-like). But fear not: though this pizza may not make you think of Brooklyn in the 1960s, it will definitely make you think of great New York.....and great Rome!...... in the 21st century.

And to which establishment would I rather go? I gotta tell ya—as if I have to—I was really scarred by my Di Fara experience. Usually, the food's the thing as far as I'm concerned. But the level of sheer managerial incompetence here was mind-boggling.

This was perhaps the worst restaurant operation I've ever stepped into—including a lot of huts and shacks from southeast Georgia to southeast Asia.

I have nothing against the old guy; he seemed kind of pleasant when I met him five years ago. And there's no questioning his talent as a pizza-maker. But how much hubris do you have to have to ignore the fact that people are waiting an hour-and-a-half for a slice of pizza.....and sometimes not getting it? Hire a few people! Hire one person! Fix this!

Franny's is not only another world, but it's a wonderful version of another world. The servers were as sweet, knowledgeable and competent as could be. The food I tasted was delicious. The prices are reasonable. The selection of wines is just right.

I am planning to get back there as soon as I can to order everything on the menu and have a grand experience.I am not planning to go back to Di Fara anytime soon. And that's coming from me—the one who has made a career favoring funk over fashion.

Di Fara
1424 Ave. J
Brooklyn, NY

295 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

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  1. Sorry, Franny's is not even close to the level of Difara- dominic dimarco is a master- but he does it at his own speed. yes, it can be frustrating waiting forever for pizza there, but if you are nice, patient, and stand your ground you can be rewarded with the best pizza in NYC. now, if you want to really get blown away by a pie, please go straight to new haven and eat at sally's or pepe's. i was at pepe's last night with a friend from brooklyn, where we both have lived and eaten pizza (at difara's, totonno's, etc. all the great brooklyn spots) for 15+ years, and i can tell you that Pepe's on an off night wipes the floor with most everything (except difara) around! no competition- crust=perfect, cheeses=just right, toppings=superb (sweet bacon, snarky pepperoni, etc- oily but not too greasy, incredible charred crust, great! difara is the closest you can get in NYC (though i will say that his 5 cheeses concept with the grand pidana etc. is brilliant!!!). long live dominic dimarco!!! enjoy fb

    13 Replies
    1. re: frankbooth

      I second your comments. Pepe and Sally blow DiFara away. No comparison.

      1. re: irvingk

        Totally different pizza. While Pepe and Sally use a coal oven
        the style is more American, lots of toppings and the ingredients and
        quality are so-so.

        1. re: irvingk

          I've eaten at Sally's, Pepe's, and DiFara many times. The first two can't hold a candle to the third, esp. if you consider Dom's square slices.

          1. re: a_and_w

            Personal taste, guys! I've lived in New Haven and grew up in Brooklyn (went to school in Midwood) and have eaten plenty of times in all 3. I prefer DiFara's but that's the style I grew up on. I don't care for the very burnt spots that turn up regularly on Sally's and Pepe's pies. That's my taste.

            All three turn out kick*** pies.

        2. re: frankbooth

          this guy rosengarten is totally full of himself. i've consumed hundreds of square slices from difara's, sometimes a day old and reheated. anyone who refers to them as being "dreadful" or having "pretty flavorless dough" is either looking for attention or just a bit off. I'd rather eat a square from DiFara's that's been sitting around then a pie hot out of the oven from Franny's. This guy just doesn't get it.

          1. re: josh L

            And since when are there 2 square slices sitting around for over 5 minutes, let alone an hour? Everyone ordering pies would be scarfing them down during the wait. I'm just hoping it cuts the crowd down so I can not only eat more easily, but get a chance to actually talk to Dom again.

            1. re: Steve R

              I was thinking the exact same thing! There are never enough to go around let alone leftovers.

              1. re: Steve R

                So far the only thing that Rosengarten said that hasn't already been said dozens of times on the board is his comment about those two square slices. All his points have even been said 7 or 8 times on this thread.

                Insanely long lines unless you take a day off from work? Check.

                People being taken out of order? Check.

                Pies sometimes burnt, especially at busy times? Check.

                People getting cranky due to the long waits? Check.

                He even liked the fresh slices he got from the people sitting at the next table so his opinion about the pie was still unchanged from his original positive writeup.

                Rosengarten's "crime" was telling the truth about Difaras to a wider audience. Everyone who reads Chowhound for more than a week already knows - great pie, no system, and insanely long waits at peak times.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  No, Rosengarten's "crime" was pretending that any of this was news. After rereading, his tone of self-righteous revelation continues to nauseate me.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Maybe he doesn't read Chowhound. And maybe his readers don't either.

                    I don't think it's wrong to take note of the chaotic service situation at Difara's. What he said, in essence, was "Great pizza / crappy service." Probably 40% of the people on this very long thread agreed with Rosengarten.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      Bob: If you were right, I'd be okay with it. But he didnt exactly say the "great pizza" part:

                      "After a quick re-heating, the square slices and I were sitting at the table with the boys. They were dreadful. Not the boys—they were in high spirits, much higher than mine. But the sodden, oil-soaked squares of pretty flavorless dough were, shall we say, far from the best pizza in Noo Yawk."

                2. re: Steve R

                  That's usually right on the money...except for yesterday at around 2:45 in the afternoon.

                  I strolled in, angled toward the counter as the crowd waited to the right, looked Dom straight in the eye and instantly scored the lone remaining corner of square on the black tray, served gracefully by his other female helper (not Maggie, who was also in back).

                  The "quick slice" lives!

                  No grousing, no nonsense.

            2. Wow! We've only been to Di Fara once and, fortunately, our experience was nothing like that. We were there mid-week around 1 p.m. Though there were some customers inside, there was no line. We snagged one of the very few tables. (There were three of us.) My husband put in the order at the counter for a whole pie and kept checking back every so often on its progress. I think it took about half an hour to get it. It was delicious, but to be honest, we would never, ever wait an hour and a half for it. In my view, no pizza -- or, for that matter, any other food -- is worth that kind of wait.

              1. This guy thinks he discovered DiFara in 2002? Then doesn't go back again for five long years? What a joke! I'll take two cold squares from DiFara over any other pizza I've tried in NYC.

                PS: The squares are not "Neapolitan" style! Good grief...

                1. i've said it before and i'll say it again. eating at difara's was whole lot more pleasant experience in the 1990s, before every foodie in the universe discovered it. yes, i know i will get slammed for this post.

                  1. Slam me to if you like. it IS the best pizza in New York. I've trekked really far for just one slice. But the "experience" has never been good. It's almost stressful. THe long wait, the having to stay on top of him while he cooks so that you actually get what you ordered. Once again- I think its by far the best pizza in ny, but it always feels like a rushed hectic experience to me.
                    Definitely nothing enjoyable about it. He is the master- but he could use some more help- or a system- or Something. Go ahead- flame away.

                    1. i gotta tell you...you can't compare franny's and difara. i can't stand franny's. and i'd happily take 2 squares that had been sitting for a while over a regular pie. i love those squares and think they are better after they sit. i do bemoan the dearth of non-neighborhood people lined up now ...my poor neighborhood secret ...but i am happy for dom.

                      1. I've always thought it was a hell of a lot of trouble and aggrivation to go through just for some pizza, and call me a grinch but I do find it infuriating that no one writes any orders and I sometimes get to watch my pizza leaving with someone else. These seem like relatively easy problems to solve without ruining the work that Dom does. I mean it's damn good pizza, but still...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Woodside Al

                          It is true that the lack of system at DiFaras is frustrating. The secret is to never leave the counter, so he doesn't forget about you.

                          It's really only a once-in-a-while thing for us, when we can stand the stress of the one-hour wait. It's usually worth it in the end.

                          The thing I can't understand about this guy is why did he insist on slices? Why not just order a pie at that point? What was the deal with his friend being there - were they together or what?

                          1. re: scooter

                            He was there with 2 friends if I read it right...they were holding a table...so true, should have got a pie! 3 people is so enough for a pie.

                            1. re: scooter

                              I was thinking the same thing; if I'm waiting that long, I'm getting a pie ... take the rest home if I have to.

                          2. We spent 2 and a half hours waiting for our pie a couple of months ago--a rainy Sunday late afternoon. It was almost worth it. Almost. Never again though.

                            1. I think the harder it is for "people" to go there the better it is for the rest of us.

                              1. I think that his daughter or son should really step up and try to manage the Brooklyn Zoo known as DiFara. I mean would it be asking too much to have an organized line with one for slices and the other for pies. Dom is old and is a sweet man who shoun't have to worry about stuff other than making pizza. Its like nobody cares and you have people stealing drinks, not paying for orders and Dom doesn't have a clue. I feel bad that his family does't care to really help out and take charge. Sending Dom on a nice vacation wouldn't hurt either, he deserves it slaving away all these years. While he vacationed they could renovate the place and really spruce things up.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: fcara

                                  they paint the place every year and the counter is only a few years old! before that, it was ancient. he doesn't want or need a yupped-out joint. that said, they only thing i'd change is that i wish they'd just take numbers - it would make things easier on everyone.

                                2. What is the name of the place in Soho that his son has some affiliation with? I heard the pizza there wasn't very good...No one is saying the place should get yupped-out. Just something to make his life a little easier. But maybe he's happy just the way he is. He must be in his 70's though...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sherwest

                                    it's his daughter and it's called demarco's. it's not good.

                                    1. re: sherwest

                                      DeMarco's. It's not DiFara and never will be because people in Manhattan hate to wait -- as some of the replies to this thread attest. But then, they don't pretend to be.

                                      I personally think DeMarco's has become quite good, esp. the square slices, though others still report negative experiences. Part of the problem is they don't cook the pies as long but I find the square reheats beautifully in a frying pan.

                                    2. Last month I waited patiently (not easy for a New Yorker) for 45 minutes to get a square slice. I wasn't happy until I had the first bite!

                                      The regular doesn't hold a candle to the square.

                                      L&B is where I take my friends.

                                      1. Lines?

                                        I never see no stinking lines....

                                        That is the core of the problem, Dom doesn't enforce a queue and people just mill about, then the pizza comes out, people shuffle close and the pie goes and everyone is confused...and praying...

                                        If he even used a deli ticket system it would be a pleasure.

                                        now about the napkin situation....

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: fkerm

                                          I love how he just eyeballs the crown and then starts a new pie. As if everyone is only getting one slice.

                                          Regardless, I love his square slice. When I make a trip to DiFara's I know it's going to be a whole process and I don't let myself get rattled. And I only do it when I'm not in a hurry.

                                          Now about the empty soda can situation...

                                        2. While I admit one of the reaosns I still haven't ventured to DiFara's is my unwillingness to wait that kind of time for pizza, this guy is a moron. He knows what it's like there, waits all that time, and then complains because the slices he knew weren't fresh or what he wanted weren't up to standards? There were 3 of them. Why didn't they order an F-in pie and be done wit it. Seriously the 3 of them deserve to have had bad pizza after showing complete ignorance.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Matt M.

                                            That's because he can be pompous at times, and doesn't like being treated like one of the teeming mob. I think he wants special treatment because of who he is: a pretty bad food writer.

                                            And what's with 'za?

                                            1. re: christocc

                                              Oh, "'za" annoyed the crap out of me. Nobody says that.

                                              1. re: Matt M.

                                                Back in college, on our way home from the "libe" my roommate and I would often stop for a slice of 'za.

                                                We ran up a lot of money on my student credit card, but I never told the 'rents

                                                1. re: Matt M.

                                                  Except in Cleveland - I knew a guy who opened a NY-"style" place there - think it was "Wizard of 'ZA"...back in the '80s.

                                                  1. re: Mike R.

                                                    yeah i remember and that place lasted about five minutes. it was no MAMA SANTAS or CAPRI.

                                                    people say 'za, it's not all that uncommon. you just dont like it is all. i dont either - heh.

                                                    1. re: mrnyc

                                                      I've NEVER heard it, glad to say.

                                                      1. re: prunefeet

                                                        You could order 'shrooms on your 'za.

                                            2. Rosengarten loses me in the first paragraph, where he claims that back when he wrote about difara's (in 2002!!!!) it was still a neighborhood secret. Heck, by then, sietsema had already written about it, as had asimov in the NYT $25 and under column. some secret!

                                              another thing i found not credible: that with a crowd like that, any square slices would be sitting around for a long time. half the people who go there prefer the squares and i've never seen a square pie last more than 5 or 10 minutes.

                                              But, I can't say i disagree with those who think Dom should impose some order. The chaos makes people ornery. tho i don't agree that anyone else should be making the pies.

                                              And those of you who don't work 9 to 5 (and I suspect Rosengarten doesn't) here's a tip: go at off hours. My last visit was on a monday around 4 pm. Total time between ordering my pie and getting it? less than 10 minutes. I kid you not.

                                              6 Replies
                                                1. re: missmasala

                                                  and Jim Leff wrote about it even earlier and Im sure even he would not take credit for "discovering" it to non-neighborhood hounds.
                                                  and Lord knows, it was exhaustively discussed on this site and plenty of hounds were trailing out there long before Rosengarten's "discovery". Hes got a tiny time horizon!

                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                    and can we talk about the description of franny's as reasonably priced. They do make good pizza, but it is expensive! their pizzas are around the same prices as difara but only feed one, whereas a difara pie can feed at least two. that makes franny's at least double the price of difara.

                                                    also, comparing franny's pizza to difara is like comparing apples and oranges. they are completely different things.

                                                    1. re: missmasala

                                                      Yeah, I agree with you. Though DiFara's pizza is not cheap, either. The difference is that if you go to Franny's, you should really get a full meal - appetizer, pizza, dessert, with wine. And that'll probably cost you around $50-60/person.

                                                  2. re: missmasala

                                                    I know, what was he thinking going on a Saturday afternoon??? 'Za indeed. Grrph.

                                                    1. re: missmasala

                                                      That's definitely the secret... I've also gone at off hours and had no problems there.

                                                      Mr Taster
                                                      Protect Chowhound
                                                      Boycott Avatars!
                                                      Please copy & paste to your posts

                                                    2. I went on a rainy satuday afternoon. I had been there before, thought I knew what to expect. I did all the right things from all the advice here on the board. Got to the front, made necessary eye contact, stayed on top of it, etc. The total wait was an hour and a half. I saw my pie go to friends of Dom's who just walked up to the window. This happened three or four times. I also saw a couple of pies that were "promised" to me go to fill a one slice order and a two slice order repsectively. The son kept reminding Dom that I had been waiting and waiting. It didn't matter. The guy next to me was suffering the same fate and wait. I kept my cool, some in the same boat didn't. The pizza was fantastic, but the frustration and treatment went from an "experience" to just plain annoying.
                                                      I've waited and trekked for food many times before, but this experience left me with a feeling that perhaps its just not worth it with this place. Sometimes the peripherals CAN cancel out the food.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Rufo

                                                        Did you say: "Hey, that's my pie!"

                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                          I've tried that tactic before, only to be simply ignored or to have the son glare at me and snap "no, it isn't."

                                                          Again, I have few complaints about the food (although I have also seen some pies forgotten in the oven too long and given to customers with a black crust), and I think the article that started this thread is something of a cheap shot, but I find it very frustrating and baffling that after all these years they seemingly haven't come up with an even rudimentry system for taking orders and keeping track of them. How hard can that be?

                                                      2. Would he be offended if we ordered him this for Christmas?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: EJC

                                                          Jah, the problem with a ticket/number/queue system is that the other side of the counter would have to keep track, and that ain't happenin' I regularly order a pie with b.rabe and Sausage; lets say pricing is volatile. In the past 5 years it has gone up about $5.

                                                          This ties into the concept of 'helping him' though - because once he handed me the pie and was calculating the price (I think the register is actually a architectural cantilever of some sort; it doesn't seem to keep track of anything) and I volunteered what i had paid a month previously... well that bought me some sort of $2 penalty.


                                                          its good pizza but arguably worth the wait and frustration ("my nerves!")

                                                          and yes rosengarten is a bit off, the first time I went i only saw the cover of Jim Leffs book. which i believe is from 1999

                                                        2. Strike one: thinking DiFara hadn't yet been discovered in 2002

                                                          Strike two: going on an unseasonably warm Saturday mid-afternoon in January, and being shocked (SHOCKED!) that there was a long line. Have you been eating paint chips?

                                                          Strike three: 'za.

                                                          You're out, Rosengarten.

                                                          But honestly, the part most upsetting to me is that Dave fails to grasp that Dom could be motivated by anything other than efficiency and profit. Dom does things HIS way, and if you don't like it, write a snarky, bull$h!t e-zine article about it. Good job, princess. You scold that mean old man about how he runs his tiny little business. Maybe it'll discourage people with Dave's sensibilities from going to DiFara at all. Here's hoping.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. 'Za aside, I think most of the chowhounds are being unduly rough on this ezine author.

                                                            I've never heard of his zine, nor have I ever experienced DiFara firsthand, but I find that Mr. Rosengarten paints a vivid, detailed and amusing portrait of an only-in-New York situation.

                                                            I felt vicarious suffering for those languishing in pizza purgatory and laughed aloud more than once while reading his account; whether or not his culinary insght is worthwhile, his journalism strikes me as above average.

                                                            1. "Chi nasci di gatta surci piglia."

                                                              DiFara is a pizzaiolo not a businessman. If I remember correctly, he closes at 10 and is closed on Sundays. Sounds like a family man to me. He will continue to make pizza as long as he is able to stand, regardless of cheers or jeers. And then he will pass it on to his children. And hang around to correct the placement of the cheese.

                                                              He has great location, and even if the pies were average, he'd still have a great deal of traffic and sell a great deal of pizza. The great thing is: he's fair. Everyone waits in line. He doesn't let anyone cut in, even neighborhood guys who eat there everyday.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: shindiganna

                                                                His name is DeMarco, not DiFara. It is not closed on Sundays. And I'm not sure why you presume to know he will pass it on to his children. A family man? You are seriously misinformed. He's fair? He can barely track of whose turn it is.

                                                                1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                  Enough already. Di Fara pizza is great. After 4 millions threads we all know that now. Mr DeMarco should be able to pump out a few more pie's an hour.Come one 30 minutes for a slice. Maybe his son should make the pizza. CH team please make a page just for Di Fara's

                                                              2. I love DiFara's and I thought Rosengarten's article was disingenuous and missed the point. But I have to say I've always felt that part of the underlying problem at DiFara's is that, for whatever reason, he DOESN'T want to pass anything on to his kids. If he did, wouldn' he let them touch the dough or sprinkle cheese once in a while? I mean, at least one of them is there all day with him. My guess is that the kids have tried to get him to impose order but he just doesn't want to. (He is open on Sunday, I'm almost sure. And while I'm sure neighborhood guys who go there every day would be made to wait like everybody else, I can't imagine that anybody could submit themselves to that routine on a daily basis and not go insane.)

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: gnosh

                                                                  You're off base about the kids. I've seen him ask them to do the most basic things and they just can't handle it. I'm sure he'd love to turn it over to them if he thought they could do a good job.

                                                                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                    Well, I readily admit it is a crackpot psychobabble theory based on no evidence. Even so, that one daughter does whip up some pretty good non-pizza dishes in the back.

                                                                  2. re: gnosh

                                                                    It's actually not true that neighborhood guys go there... during my last visit I told him I was visiting from Los Angeles, and De Marco said to me "none of my customers live in the neighborhood!" Cast in point-- my sister who lives in Brooklyn just a few miles away (and owns a car with a parking space) refuses to go, even on those once-a-year occasions when her big brother comes into town and begs her for it. Last time she made me take the bus.

                                                                    Mr Taster
                                                                    Protect Chowhound
                                                                    Boycott Avatars!
                                                                    Please copy & paste to your posts

                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                      taster, that cracked me up. she had you take the bus. it's the sort of joint, where i guess you take it for granted if you actually live in the neighborhood.

                                                                  3. I've been to Difara's once on a random early weeknight (had a doctor's appointment in the hood). I waited on line for less than 5 minutes and knocked down 4 slices. So good, I got to get back to that doctor...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: abu applesauce

                                                                      Ha, I thought you were going to say 'So good, I went back to the doctor that same night'.

                                                                    2. I have to say, I love his pies, but I think Rosengarten has a point - I can't stomach the wait, but even more importantly, I despise the unknown and angst attached to the wait - trying to for hours to catch Dom's eye, being careful not to cut in front of anyone lest I piss off the wrong person, being aware of no one cutting in front of you and trying to give the impression that I am, in fact, that "wrong person" - in my opinion, it's just not worth an hour-plus of extreme aggravation. Maybe if I took a xanax or two before I went out there it would help. Being someone that works normal hours, going there at "off" hours just isn't an option - so, I have to go at night or on a weekend, and it ain't pretty.

                                                                      Lastly, I'll agree with one (minority voice) poster that doesn't really compare the DiFara's/Franny's pies. I love them both, but they're quite different beasts. To simply dismiss the quality of Franny's pies out of hand, I think, is more of an emotional reaction to other misgivings about the place.

                                                                      1. We used to go to DiFara once a week. Sietsema/Asimov (sp?) didn't make the place impossible. It's the four intervening years of continued publicity. I think of him fondly, but can't bring myself to go back--the crowd is too aggravating.

                                                                        I wonder if he's ever had the pizza from DeMarco, and wonder what he thinks about it. Last time I went the crust was so dry it almost had a powdery feel to it. That place is a scandal.

                                                                        1. The only way to go there is with a sort of Zen attitude. We bring a bottle of Côtes de Rhone (OK, I know it should be a Valpollicello, but I'm a French wine freak), find a table (or at least two seats), place our order and then hang out at the counter with frequent trips to the table to refill the glass. It has never taken more that 90 minutes to get the pie (Round with 1/2 broccoli rabe 1/2 baby eggplant, or similar) and by then the wine has done its job. I'm actually amazed how non-confrontational the customers are. When we're not prepared for the wait, we don't go. (We find Totonno's and Lucali's a better alternative than Frannie's, BTW)

                                                                          1. I've got to agree with previous posters that Rosengarten was expecting preferential treatment and that Dom's kids should take a little more responsibility for maintaining order. That being said if I'm on Avenue J and there is not too big a crowd I'll stop, order a pie to go and grab a slice or two while I'm waiting if they are available. Definitely not the place to go if you are in a hurry.

                                                                            1. This morning-freezing, 20 minute drive from lower Manhattan. Got there at 11:15. Third in line. Two whole pies before me. Told the maestro I was waiting for slices. Another pie order after me got priority. Then by 11:35 Dom smiled and asked me how many slices I wanted. In my most pathetic voice I said "four please". Dom smiled again and gave me half a pie. Worth any wait. Also watching him is half the fun. Live long and prosper Dom. Shame on you Rosengarten.

                                                                              1. having "discovered" DiFara's more than 15 years before Rosengarten did -- after moving to what was then a sketchy area of Flatbush near 16th and church and not finding any non-Caribbean sustenance in my own 'hood -- i can sympathize with the gnashing and wailing over the "discovery" of the place. but Rosengarten, as many here have pointed out, just doesn't get it -- as is his usual m.o. (i wrote the guy off years and years ago after a food network show in which he sniffed that yams/sweet potatoes have no place on a thanksgiving table, since they defy a high end wine pairing). the "dahling" implicit in his tone was worthy of a spit-take, as is most of his rambling.

                                                                                1. Pizza is, hands down, my favorite dish, so it might seem a bit strange that after living in NYC 15 yrs, I've never had a DiFara's pizza. Well, after reading about how much of a hassle it is to get one of them, the situation is not likely to change any time soon.

                                                                                  I personally love those long lines at DiFara's - they mean there will be shorter lines at the places I love.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. My take is his kids are miserable working there and do not want to be there. As Jim has mentioned in the past on here, the one son in the back looks like he wants to kill everybody in there. He has a scowl on his face all the time and just barks at you. Hey maybe Dom forces him to work there. The daughter might be a good short order cook as Jim has stated in the past but she seems to be unmoved by the chaos in there known as the line. Could she not take charge and figure out a system that would flow and leave her dad to just make pies. It personally sickens me that Dom has to collect the money, take orders, and make the pies. Gimme a break the guy deserves better! Being italian I know how the old timers can be but you just have to take charge and do whats best. Dom needs to make his masterpieces nothing else.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: fcara

                                                                                      also Italian here: IMO, it's not so easy to wrest the reins from a patriarch. Especially one who's been crowned the King of Pizza. Every work for a perfectionist? How about a perfectionist father?

                                                                                      I've been there when the older daughter tried to intervene by working the register. IT WAS WORSE. He gave the wrong person the pie, and the chaos that erupted as a result threw everything off. He was pretty rattled.

                                                                                      It was on that trip that some jerk whipped out a wad of bills and offered DeMarco a fifty for the pie that had just come out of the oven. DeMarco politely told him NO, first verbally, then by waving his hand. On the third offer, the jerk added another $20, Demarco turned away and ignored him. Jerk tried to get Signorina Demarco's attention: Demarco shooed her into the back. The Jerk waited a long time and finally left empty handed.

                                                                                    2. I just don't think it's safe to assume that Dom doesn't like it exactly the way it is.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                        Amen. He seems at peace with the world. Wish I could find some of that. Oh well...guess I'll just have to settle for some more of his pizza.

                                                                                      2. waiting 2 hours is just wrong. bad management. bad employees. a complete lack of caring for the customer

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: CtGentleman

                                                                                          A lot of it has to do with the fact that only Dom makes the pies. One at a time. Very slowly.

                                                                                          People who frequent DiFara's understand this. I only go when I know I can make an afternoon of it.

                                                                                          Yeah, it drives me nuts when we order slices and I see him give the pie away to someone who just walked in. Next time we've vowed to just order a whole square pie. It heats up well the next day.

                                                                                        2. I think its funny. A few years ago Dom was serving up pies to the locals with a smile and the occassional song as he'd sing while he made the pizzas. We'd wander in after school and he'd be back there making his pies. No one from outside the surrounding areas of Midwood would even consider coming out there for pizza. Years pass and suddenly Dom is the best pie in Brooklyn. The hot topic of conversation is how long people have to wait. This man has not changed during that time. Even back in the day, you had to wait. If he made someone else's pie first...you didn't argue. You just wondered how you could impress him better next time. Now he's the best pie in NYC...and it doesn't faze him in the least. You want it? wait for it. If not...there's the kosher deli down the street. Mannaggia....the way things change eh???

                                                                                          1. I think it's amazing that many of the same people who agree that poor service in a city like NY is totally unacceptable,
                                                                                            are willing to put up with the chaos that is DeFara's.
                                                                                            Everyone talks about "Dom" like he's their personal friend.
                                                                                            I'm sure he's a very nice man, but he wouldn't know anyone if he fell over them. I love a great slice as much as anyone but I wouldn't wait that long for the Second Coming, let alone,a Pizza. True, it is delicious, but it's just not worth the time and hassle. Nothing justifies that sort of slavish devotion. I guess if you have nothing better to do for 2 or 3 hours it's ok, but if I was going to spend that much time on a meal, I want a dining experience not an ordeal. As for the review: I'd never take seriously anyone who refers (twice!) to pizza as 'za. As though it has a nickname. That's totally Ridiculous

                                                                                            1. I am just happy I have a car and that I have the opportunity to be in the DiFara's area every so often. If I see a line, I do not get out. NO line, I am happy. Makes my life much easier.

                                                                                              1. And then there was yesterday (Sunday). With the wind blowing cold and 2 football games on in the late afternoon, I took a chance and went at 1pm. No line, slices waiting to be eaten and enough people coming and going to keep the tables full and the food fresh. Didn't see anyone I knew or anyone who seemed to know Dom. So, he had time to talk and to play opera on his boombox, loud enough to fill the room. Great deep flavored square slices and nicely oiled regular. Left at 2pm and had plenty of time to catch the first kickoff. Thank you David Rosengarten and all you "wont go out in the cold" folks for making my afternoon.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Steve R

                                                                                                  Yeah I was there too. Me and Dom were both humming Il Donna Mobile.

                                                                                                  1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                                                    That's "La Donna e Mobile", which means, "woman is fickle"

                                                                                                    1. re: christocc

                                                                                                      The critics are also fickle. Now Ed Levine and Adam Kuban, the pizza gurus,both of whom I have the utmost respect for, are jumping on the Rosengarten bandwagon crying about lines being too long. I guess it's OK that I can't even get a reservation for Per Se which I've been trying to do for over a year now. Nobody dares criticize that!

                                                                                                      1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                                                        True, but Per Se's method of addressing the long wait is probably a bit more organized.

                                                                                                2. The article is accurate. But if you are local you just go and if it's empty you strike, otherwise eat Jewish on CIA if Difaras is unbearable.

                                                                                                  BTW, me thinks it's time to raise prices.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Geo8rge

                                                                                                    Where do you go for Jewish food near there?

                                                                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                                                                      DiFara's now sits in the middle of an orthodox Jewish community. So other than DiFara's pretty much all of the surrounding restaurants and food stores on Ave. J are kosher places. This is not old fashioned Jewish-American eastern european deli food, but mostly stuff from the middle east (think Israel), as well as a number of kosher places in various ethnic restaurant styles (Chinese, sushi, pizza).

                                                                                                      Olympic Pita down the street and around the corner on Coney Island Ave. serves really good falafel, and has gotten a lot of positive notice on this board for this and other food as well. I've also had satisfying meals in the company of orthodox friends at Jerusalem Steak House across the street from DiFara's.

                                                                                                      In either direction from Ave. J Coney Island Ave.also has a variety of other (non-kosher, of course) ethnic restaurants, including Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, and Arabic.

                                                                                                      1. re: Woodside Al

                                                                                                        I hears you can get some exellent shawarma in the vicinity.

                                                                                                  2. My fiancé and i go to DiFara's at least once a month for several years now and have never seen it like the "Rosengarten of delicate flowers" describes. It has been bad, but never that bad. But then again, we don't walk the streets of Soho on summer weekends either. Moral of the story: if you think like a tourist, and act like a tourist, be prepared to be treated like a tourist.

                                                                                                    And for the record, last night at 8:45pm there was no line at all.

                                                                                                    1. As prackin's fiancé — I'd like to add, that the man knows his regulars :) — even the monthlies get greeted with a smile — But who on this message board who follows pizza doesn't know that you're going to wait at DiFaras? If you don't like waiting, please don't go! (makes the line shorter for the rest of us — and easier to deal with — less cranky people!) If it were possible to make the pies taste better (and I'm not sure it is), I would suggest that Mr.DeMarco not having to deal with your cranky selves, would probably do the trick.

                                                                                                      1. Ive known Dom and his pizza place for over 40 years, way before his pizza was considered anything but just good. Jerry's was as good, and if most of you know the neighborhood as well, there was a great place on Ave M. the name eludes me at the present. Also a great place many years ago, a somewhat hole in the wall called Caterina that put Dom to shame. The fact of the matter is most pizza parlors do not bother with the high cost of ingredients as Dom does. He upped the quality of his pizza recently, maybe 7-8 years ago. Before then, the place was dead- in fact the person that made him famous is the guy who wrote him up in a book that ispasted to his oven.


                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: son of a butcher

                                                                                                          Hey, the place on M - are you talking about Pete's Pizzeria, around 17th or so? That was my nabe pizza growing up and i remember it as amazing (especially the eggplant parm) but i havent been back in years.

                                                                                                          1. re: Produce Addict

                                                                                                            Son of a butcher (above):"in fact the person that made him famous is the guy who wrote him up in a book that is pasted to his oven". -- Wouldnt that be the "Eclectic Gourmet Guide..." that was written by Jim Leff... you know, the guy who also started Chowhound?

                                                                                                            At any rate, my pizza place on Ave M, before I started going to DiFara's 40 years ago, was the one on E.13th St. "Ruggero's?" I did like the one on M and 17th though. Do we all know each other?

                                                                                                            1. re: Produce Addict

                                                                                                              Sorry to report: Pete's hasn't kept up. Standard bleh ingredients. Thank goodness I live a block from DiFaras...

                                                                                                          2. Went for the first time on Tuesday, 3pm...no line, a fresh round pie just came bubbling out of the oven, had two slices and put an order in for a square slice when it was available...Perfect Pizza! So delicious. (I was taking photos and Dom didn't mind but all of the grizzled regulars were giving me the stink eye--here's to you drunk, rude guy who mumbles!)

                                                                                                            1. Based on the one trip I've made to Franny's so far (last summer), I totally agree that the quality of the pizza there is on par with DiFara's, though its character is so different that it seems almost senseless to compare them.

                                                                                                              1. i went to this restaurant in october and saw a huge crowd inside. i decided to give it a shot because i was already in the area. there was no line, no rhyme or reason. so we waited patiently until i could manage to get myself to the front to get his attention. there was a man next to me who was obviously pissed and asked "where is my pizza? i've been waiting for four hours!!!" who the hell waits for four hours for a pizza? either he was lying or he's out of his mind. i wouldn't wait more than 45-60 minutes for ANY food. and thats stretching it a lot. somehow i got lucky, he looked up at me and asked me what i'd like in a pleasant tone. made my pie, slowly, and handed it to me. all this within 30 minutes. maybe because i was the only girl in the room? i don't know. i'm sure others were fuming he gave me a pie before them. it was definitely the best pizza i've ever eaten!!! perfect combination of sauce, to cheese, to crust. perfectly cooked crust. my only complaint is that it needed salt (for my taste) but thats an easy fix!

                                                                                                                if i could always have 30 minutes or less i would go there often. next time i will go on an off hour when i know for sure there won't be a hassle like some of you experienced. no food is worth getting yelled at by people. its bad enough i've been yelled at working in a kitchen, i don't need it when i order and PAY for something!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                                                  About last night...did a "drive-by" and observing three-deep at the counter and milling outside the door, it took a strong will and guts of steel to wave hello and take a pass...even with the East 15th corner / in-front parking spot opening up right before my eyes.

                                                                                                                2. Dom is burning his pies to the point they are completely black. I tried the sicilian, all black crust ruined the flavor. The regular almost as bad and did not like eating soot from the oven. Dom is busy making pies and then forgets that the pies in the oven are being overcooked to the point of cajun style. I love a well done pie but this is overboard. I was thinking maybe its the oven because I noticed alot of the pies he pulled out were very black in certain spots. Maybe the flame is not set up properly.

                                                                                                                  1. Yup, Pete's was the place and his mom made the pies.

                                                                                                                    1. ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                      stop this crap about FRANNY's . It is a restaurant. It serves a specialty food that some call pizza. Said specialty food may be the greatest food in the world, but it is NOT NEW YORK PIZZA.

                                                                                                                      please please please stop comparing Di Fara's or any other NY pizza place to Franny's.

                                                                                                                      god. it drives me nuts!

                                                                                                                      PS. Franny's is the king of a completley different food pyramid, one that has 10,000 pizza huts at the bottom and franny's at the very top.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: luke643

                                                                                                                        Isn't Italy the origin point of all pizza though? So while I agree that DiFara's and Franny's produce a somewhat different product, I don't see why they can't be compared. Those products may seem to be of a totally different style to you (a difference not necessarily noted in the U.S. outside of NYC), but aren't both producing pizza -- a food item that has a common source in Italy? Why are they beyond comparison then? I mean the stuff wasn't invented in NYC, nor by "10,000 pizza huts."

                                                                                                                      2. Actually, what I find upsetting is that most of what is considered "New York pizza" is really "Brooklyn pizza". I suppose Lombardi's does lay claim to being NY's first pizzeria, but in my mind, this style of pizza was perfected in Brooklyn (which was, in fact, a separate city back in the day). Unfortunately, ever since Domino's co-opted the term "Brooklyn style pizza", all hope for the proper BK recognition is lost.

                                                                                                                        1. I've long been a partisan of DiFara's and a defender of really good food as being well worth poor service.

                                                                                                                          But yesterday, I got a bad case of DiFara's rage that made Rosengarten's article hit home for me.

                                                                                                                          I've been there enough to know the strategy: got there at an off-hour (4:15 pm on a Sunday), waiting patiently until 4:45 pm when I put in my order. I ordered pies (two!), not slices, which I've observed get priority. I hovered to make sure that my pizza would actually get made. I inquired a couple of times with Dominick and his son.

                                                                                                                          I didn't get the pizza until about 6 pm, almost two hours after coming into the place. By the time I got it, everyone seated and eating other pies had gotten there after I did.

                                                                                                                          I've been there enough to know to expect waiting. It's not about the waiting, it's the utter capriciousness of the service. It makes me feel like I'd have to act like an aggressive Hobbesian asshole, muscling aside other customers, just to get served pizza in the order in which I ordered it. The alternative is the desperation of fearing that the sunken cost of so much waiting won't reap the reward of the tasty square slice.

                                                                                                                          I've never before had food this good prepared by someone who seems like such a nice guy feel ruined by the service. I don't know what the solution is, other than Totonno's (which is also really good, but not as good as Difara's), but I just need to vent a bit. I'm a Difara's apologist no more.

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: JackS

                                                                                                                            "It's not about the waiting, it's the utter capriciousness of the service. It makes me feel like I'd have to act like an aggressive Hobbesian asshole, muscling aside other customers, just to get served pizza in the order in which I ordered it."

                                                                                                                            Exactly, and it seems there must be a pretty simple fix for this, which would not affect the quality of the food at all. To me this makes it doubly aggravating, and as a business owner drives me absolutely nuts, to the point that I almost never go there even though I'm in the area quite often.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Peter

                                                                                                                              "Does anyone with food service experience have a simple, workable solution we can propose? "

                                                                                                                              If I didn't know you through your posts I'd swear you were kidding. The "system" is called Take A Number.

                                                                                                                              I think people are looking for complexity in this problem when the answer is indifference. Dom doesn't care, or at the very least he doesn't think the situation is bad enough to require fixing. If he did, he'd do the obvious thing.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                Of course there's the "take a number" system and someone even linked to the machine up above. I don't think that'd work though. It's too much of a "machine" for Dom and within days the strip of paper numbers would run out and he wouldn't replace it.

                                                                                                                                I was thinking of something more old-school -- like a clip board with a bunch of lines to write down your name and order.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Peter

                                                                                                                                  Here's a thought. During the busy times Dom could hire a local teenager for minimum wage. His only job would be issue numbers and see that pies were gtiven to customers in the correct order. He could also take the money and make change. The training period for this job would be about 5 minutes.

                                                                                                                                  The cost of the kid's minimal salary would be covered by increasing the price of slices by a quarter and whole pies by a buck. People would be delighted to pay the extra amount to avoid the chaos that now exists.

                                                                                                                                  This is not Harvard MBA stuff but what are the odds of this happening? Zero.

                                                                                                                                  I repeat - Dom Doesn't Care.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                    Ok, then I'll rephrase my original question:

                                                                                                                                    Does anyone here know Dom well enough to ask him WHY he doesn't care about the chaos that ensues every weekend at his counter?

                                                                                                                            2. As a matter of fact I do. Knowing him very well, having worked for him in the early 1970's delivering, yes delivering pizza on Saturday night while I was a student at Brooklyn College, I do know him better than most of his customers. And he does know me as well.

                                                                                                                              You have to understand how most small business people of that generation ran/run their business. My father, who also was a small business owner had a butcher shop who sold meat and poultry of the highest quality. Never advertised, couldn't give a damn whether you walked into his store or not. He made a living for 35 years having most of his customers called by phone. He's 81 years old, still goes to the 14th St. market to buy prime shells for the familly, and lets them hand for 3 weeks. Today, my old man would have been famous because of websites like this. But his heart was always for the working person, so he practically gave away his product and sqeaked out a living.

                                                                                                                              Having said that, Dominic feels the same way about you, the customer. You are not doing him any favors by going to him from the city or for that matter anywhere. IMHO, the only loss by his being well known is the neighborhood people who were his regular customere that don't want to be bothered by the hordes of people who are desperate for quality. And there's nothing wrong in seeking out quality. But when a man is nearing his 70's and is as headstrong and stubborn as Dom is, the paying customer comes up a bit to impatient. He never wanted to be considered a "Gourmet" pizza place. Just the neighborhood hangout where you can go for a slice and sit down with your friends.

                                                                                                                              He can only make a finite amout of pies in an hour. Some of you did the math. Andif you figure it out, he isn't even making that much dough, no pun intended.

                                                                                                                              Conclusion: There is enough people in this town for more good pizza places to open up and be successful, not of the Franny's type, but regualar pizza parlors. Not that anything is wrong with Franny's. I've never been there.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: son of a butcher

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

                                                                                                                                I wasn't ever suggesting that Dom change his ways to make us (me) happy. Personally, because I go at off times, I've never had that long a wait and I've never had a burned, or in any other way compromised, pizza.

                                                                                                                                I was suggesting some sort of "system" for DOM'S happiness. I assumed, maybe wrongly, that it's not pleasant to be on the other side of the counter from a horde of irate customers.

                                                                                                                                In the end, I imagine Dom's a clever enough guy. I'm sure 20 ways of managing the crowds have occurred to him and he's decided to do it the way he's doing it. That's his prerogative and I wish him well. :)


                                                                                                                              2. Peter, Honestly, the man's whole life is making pizza, 364 days a year. I told him to hire a high school kid to clean the tables. His response:"My children could do it." It's all in the family. Nothing fazes him. If Bush and Cheney walked in, they would have to wait on line like the rest of us. As a matter of fact, he doesn't recognize celebrity and couldn't give two sh--s about celebs. See ya at the counter!

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: son of a butcher

                                                                                                                                  SOB, I agree with what you say about how some people run a small business. My father had a small business with both wholesale and retail customers. Was it profitable? Yes. Could it have been more profitable by increasing volume of sales? For sure; he saw his friends doing it. Customers would ask why don't you add this line, why don't you get a bigger truck and hire a driver. why don't you make the retail place more attractive? He just didn't want the hassle of employees, more insurance, harder to maintain quality, coming under additional govt regs, more reporting, outside people knowing your business, etc.

                                                                                                                                  I get the impression DeMarco is kind of like that. He probably doesn't want non-family employees. He's cranking out as many pies as he can and still requires significant family help with the background tasks just to keep the place running. It isn't easy. If you haven't run your own business or been close to someone who operates like Dom does it's hard to understand. In the end the customers suffer.

                                                                                                                                  We saw what happened when he hurt his foot, basically the show stopped; not a good sign. Hopefully some of his skills and passion will sink in by osmosis or maybe by actually some kind of succession training and the family can carry on when he retires.

                                                                                                                                  Talking about it makes me want to go for a pie tomorrow afternoon.

                                                                                                                                2. On the one hand, I see what you're saying SOB, but I don't completely buy the idea that he is completely indifferent to the fame and attention. They've got the walls plastered with clippings of newspaper and magazine articles extolling the wonders of DiFara's pizzas. Someone who really only cared about making a decent pie for local regulars might put up an article or two ... but a half-dozen articles on each wall?

                                                                                                                                  Not that I really care (it's way too far for me to go to), but the whole phenomenon is fascinating.

                                                                                                                                  I wonder whether he doesn't get a kick out of making people wait and pushing them to their limits. The fact that the masses will put up with so much could be seen as evidence of just how marvelous the product is. A kind of passive-aggressive pizza-Nazi. He has bragged that 'it's not fast food ... it's slow food' after all. If you look at it from this perspective, there is zero incentive to do things like hire additional staff, take numbers, paint the place, polish the counters and the ovens, (god forbid) renovate ...

                                                                                                                                  1. I see your point racer. So happens that he asked me to laminate all the articles on the wall. I gladly did, but look what happened...Technology is a mother

                                                                                                                                    1. When I was a kid in the early 70s my dad took me at least once a month to visit his old nanny in a nursing home on Coney Island Avenue (my grandmother died before I was born and this was my dad's closest living relative). We got off the subway at Ave J and usually got deli. Occasionally we got pizza and I know we went to DiFara's which I don't really remember as being that special. Well one Sunday morning DiFara's was closed so my dad took me to the kosher pizzeria that's still up the block on 14th street. Now I have never had a bad pizza in my entire life and have never had one since. I even liked frozen pizza from the supermarket. But I remember having that kosher pizza and minutes later I was barfing my way up and down Avenue J. And I'm Jewish.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                                                                                        i don't quite get the point. is it that most pizza is at the very least decent, except for kosher pizza???/

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                          Draw your own conclusions but as for me- never again. I think that's why I've also avoided kosher Chinese too.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                                                                                            i can understand that. i've actually had kosher pizza that's as decent as very, very, very average new york pizza.

                                                                                                                                            and for anyone who is walking to difara's along avenue j, they'll sure pass by a bunch of pizza joints, even ones with square slices, but most likely not like df's squares.

                                                                                                                                      2. Thank you Mr. Rosengarten, and Guest, for debunking difaras. Yeah, alot of tragicially hip chowfrauds like it and oh so many of them are masochists that can't enjoy a meal unless they suffer to get it.....so therefore difara is god, as he makes them suffer the most. Reminds me of "L'Idiot" in the movie "L.A. STORY". One day, a movie will be made about difara and Patrick Stewart will play the old man..."YOU CANNOT HAVE THE PIE, YOU ARE NOT WORTHY"

                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: was

                                                                                                                                          The only problem with your scenario is that the emporer has clothes. Actually a very good wardrobe. I grant you that quite a few of those who have been there when I've shown up are only trend seekers wanting to say "I saw god", but you're painting with way too broad a brush here. Dom uses very good ingredients and has spent a lifetime devoted to his craft, day after day. What's even better is that it tastes great. That's something you dont seem to be considering in your haste to dismiss his popularity. Something about throwing the baby out with the bathwater comes to mind. But... it's always nice to read a well composed rant.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: was

                                                                                                                                            Also, it's not that Dom is mean, not at all, it's just that he's disorganized and basically runs the place all by himself. I'll grant you though that it is a lot of fuss, and wait, just for a (admittedly damn good) pizza.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: was

                                                                                                                                              Tell us which pizzerie you like in Brooklyn, since you dislike DiFara's so much; that would be useful chow information.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                I don't like any better than DiFara's. Although Totonno's can be quite nice (although of a different type) on its good days. But I just usually can't deal with waiting forever, and the chaos and dirtiness, just for a pizza. There are plenty of other great, and more interesting, things to eat in Brooklyn that don't come with the aggrivation.

                                                                                                                                            2. "was" eh? sad commentary. i've been to literally hundreds of pizza places in this fine city, and a few in venerable pizza locales such as trenton and new haven. I have never been to naples. and i wouldnt eat pizza in rome if you paid me.

                                                                                                                                              that said, difara is the best pizza i have ever eaten. although it is not my favorite pizza place.
                                                                                                                                              for that, you can check Ciccio's pizza in bensenhurst on ave. U.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: luke643

                                                                                                                                                Just FYI, there is very good pizza to be had in Rome. But that's off-topic...

                                                                                                                                                What do you like better about Ciccio's Pizza? Also, what's the cross-street, and what subway could I take to get there?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                  ciccio's has very little in terms of non-standard elements. The major factor that separates it is the sesame seeds on the crust.

                                                                                                                                                  I love Ciccio's because i think it is the perfect NY slice. Difara, by contrast, is almost specialty pizza.

                                                                                                                                                  it is on Ave U and 5th or 6th st. You take the F to ave u and walk west a few blocks, it is on the north side of the street.

                                                                                                                                              2. Last Friday afternoon there must have been some oven malfunction because when I walked in the place was full of smoke and Dom was scraping the black parts off a square pie dough...it must have caused a back-up because I waited about 40 minutes and there really wasn't that many people. I had two slices of a round and they were a bit soggy and messy...wasn't that great sorry to say. The square slice I had, however, was amazing.

                                                                                                                                                I can see if you go on a really busy day with an empty stomach you can get pretty pissed waiting and watching. It does make you think...maybe I should go somewhere else next time.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: pastoralia

                                                                                                                                                  I can't believe I've been drawn in to this megathread. Yikes.

                                                                                                                                                  You write "I can see if you go on a really busy day with an empty stomach you can get pretty pissed waiting and watching." That's just it. You CAN'T go on an empty stomach. And you WILL wait. This is not a place where one will have a standard pizza place experience.

                                                                                                                                                  But do go, with that in mind. Patiently stand at the counter, and let Dom register your presence. He'll check in with you a couple times about your order, and your pie will be remembered. Enjoy the show of a slow master methodically attending to his craft. And enjoy an incredible pie. The round pie with garlicky sauteed artichokes is out of this world.

                                                                                                                                                2. i grew up in brooklyn so i've had marine park pizza, bay ridge pizza, bensonhurst pizza, etc. but when i tried difara's for the first time last year.... oh.my.god. it has ruined me for all other pizza :-P yes, the wait is long and honestly, sometimes i am skeeved at the condition of the place, but imo, the pizza is really something special. rosengarten rips it b/c he has to wait? dom's is a neighborhood pizza place that, due to its notoriety via various reviews (including rosengarten's) and buzz on sites like chowhound, gets packed with people from near and far looking to try a slice. should dom change his operations to accommodate the influx of people? the man has been working this way for decades and even given the amount of customers, he never has anything but a kind word to say. rosengarten is ripping difara's for getting too successful (something which he helped create) and then not changing the way they work to accomodate the greater # of customers.

                                                                                                                                                  1. The first time I went to DiFara's was a hot August Sunday afternoon around noon and there WAS NOBODY THERE other than Dom. I had heard so many bad stories about the wait that I THOUGHT I WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE!

                                                                                                                                                    I talked to Dom, told him how I had found the place, and enjoyed some pizza.

                                                                                                                                                    The second time I was there was on Tuesday afternoon at around 2:00 PM and there were 3 people there. I had 2 slices of round, 2 slices of square, and for dessert, I ate another round slice.

                                                                                                                                                    Don't like traffic, then don't go on the LIE at 5:00 PM!
                                                                                                                                                    Don't like waiting on line, then don't go to the Staue of Liberty in the summer!
                                                                                                                                                    Don't like to wait for Dom's pizza, then don't go to DiFara's during the busy times!

                                                                                                                                                    Come on people, you call yourself New Yorkers, then work through it. Remember, the harder you push the system, the harder it pushes back.

                                                                                                                                                    Plain and simple, DiFara's is a neighborhood Brooklyn pizzeria, deal with it! Go to Manhattan if you want fancy schmancy and leave us to our beloved DiFara's!

                                                                                                                                                    1. yes, go at 2 or 3pm and you should be good to go. for most you have to trek there anyways, so you can probably handle eating lunch at an inopportune time slot.

                                                                                                                                                      also, when it's quiter you'll enjoy it better, and maybe you'll also get the chance to grill Dom with some questions (not that i actually recommend doing that, the questioining part that is0.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I tried DiFara's for the first time today. Got off of jury duty at the new criminal courthouse at around 4.30. Took the Q down to Avenue J hoping it wasn't too busy. Walked into the place at about 5, and there were about 3 people standing and/or sitting.

                                                                                                                                                        I order a round pie with sausage and pepperoni to bring home and a slice of cheese round to try there. Oh my god! I get it! I really do. I am a big fan of Franny's (although I've not been in a long while), and I really love true "italian" style pizza. But this pizza...this was probably the best I've ever had. Blows Lombardi's (which I think is quite good) and Grimaldi's (which I always thought was a bit overrated) out of the water. The crust is perfect, with so much flavor. The fresh cut basil adds a whole other quality.

                                                                                                                                                        Even the pie which I lugged back to park slope was great. I reheated it on my pizza stone and it lost very little of the quality of the fresh out of the oven slice. The sausage and pepporni were great, very high quality.

                                                                                                                                                        And to watch Dom, all hunched over, just pound out pie after pie after pie. It really is amazing. You can see that its totally a zen experience for him. And it became one just watching him.

                                                                                                                                                        I don't know if ANY pizza is worth waiting 2 hours for, and the lack of organization could clearly get ridiculously annoying during peak hours. But if you can get there when its not to busy, its the best pizza you can hope to get in NYC.

                                                                                                                                                        Like I said...I get it.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: elecsheep9

                                                                                                                                                          Great. Glad you both liked it and respect what it (he) is. Those of us who've been going there for years (at least the ones I know) get a kick out of threads like this, since the posts vary so widely. Bottom line for me is that both the round and square pizzas taste great day after day, year after year, even with Dom's constant tinkering (maybe especially due to it). At any rate, since you're in the Slope, come to Carroll Gdns. and try Lucali's. Mark has watched Dom very carefully and is churning out very very good (although somewhat different) pizza. You'll "get it" here as well.

                                                                                                                                                        2. I grew up and lived on East 17th street and Ave I from 1965-1987. When I moved into the neighborhood in 1965, 2 slices and a soda cost 65 cents! That being said, I could care less what Mr Rosengarten says, I have eaten at all the great pizza places in NY. Tottonos, Sal and Carmines, Johns of Bleeker and recently tried Frannys. All these places are excellent. {Actually, I think Sal and Carmines is a tad overrated} but, none of them hold a candle to the Pizza at DiFara's. Yes, the waits are ridiculous, but that has become part of the experience. I now live about 75 miles north of NYC. My work oft times brings me to the city and I try and plan my day so that I can have lunch at DiFara's. I have 4 kids and for Christmas, I took two of them into the city for activites and for a trip into brooklyn to see where I grew up and of course have pizza at DiFara's. On both visits with my kids, the Pizza was SPECTACULAR. Absolutely sublime. The waits were insane, but in my opinion WELL WORTH it. On a thrusday night, my son and I waited 1 1/2 hours for a pie. It got totally crazy when I went on a saturday with my daughter. BUT, you have to be prepared for it and make it like a party. We made sure that we got a table. I went across the street and got my self a large bottle of beer. It was like a party in DiFara's! Great people from all oveer the northeast who had heard about Dom and were there to check it out. It was disorganized and I had to go back to my roots and act like a pushy New Yorker to make sure we even got our pie! Maggie, {dom's daughter} made out a list and it wasn't numbered and I thought we would never get served. but I was persistent and we did get our amazing 1/2 sausage pie! I have to be honest and tell everyone that it did take 3 HOURS to get it, but amazingly, the pizza was so freaking good that it was actually worth the wait.

                                                                                                                                                          Here is a link to the master at work. Please note the GREAT music in the background!


                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pjkesq

                                                                                                                                                            wow, that is exactly a great reminscense of dom at work.

                                                                                                                                                          2. That's an amazing video...it could have been taken anytime because that's what Dom does EVERY day.

                                                                                                                                                            1. let's see if i've got this straight -

                                                                                                                                                              an old timer makes a great pie served on paper plates and, with the help of his kids, operates a wonderful and succesful neighborhood pizzeria that has been in business since the johnson administration.

                                                                                                                                                              a foodie waits in line two hours for three slices of said pizza, purchases the only two that were available and forages tabletops for a third.

                                                                                                                                                              de marco laugh's all of the way to the bank.

                                                                                                                                                              yep, i think i've got it straight.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: aeneas01

                                                                                                                                                                Well said. You left out one IMPORTANT point not to be missed:

                                                                                                                                                                ------------> He works at his own pace -- NEVER rushed !

                                                                                                                                                                Dom works like a fine-tuned machine -- but slow, painfully slow.
                                                                                                                                                                For this, we have these monster-size threads quibbling over *HIS* business practice.
                                                                                                                                                                That's just how he chooses to operate his pizza place. We have to deal with it
                                                                                                                                                                (some of us begrudgingly) while *he* laughs all the way to the bank.

                                                                                                                                                              2. pick the right time. and pay attention when you're in line. i always kept my eye on him to make sure he noticed me. i'm sure if i were busy chatting with my friend or looking away he would have kept helping someone else, then another, and another while i waited there for hours.

                                                                                                                                                                i went again. saturday night at 8:30pm..... plenty of people around. but somehow i got a pie within 20 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                1. the greatest thing that happens in there is that everyone at the front of the line, waiting, watching, suddenly wants an extra slice because they feel they've earned it. I love that. I've done that. haven't you?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Yet another DF thread. Sigh. Dear people who don't go, won't go, hate it, don't understand: please stick to your guns. Dear people who do go: stop defending it. He doesn't want or need our help, and we need less people in our way. In fact, let's all agree to tell everyone online and in real life that the place sucks, and even if we told you completely otherwise in the past, it's gone way down hill and besides didn't I tell you I'm a liar?
                                                                                                                                                                    (Slice while waiting on pie? SOP!)

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: noisejoke

                                                                                                                                                                      The necessity of a "slice while waiting" is part of DeMarco's intricate business plan to sell even more pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                      Sort of like restaurants that keep you waiting for a table hoping to increase your consumption of pre-dinner bar drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. There are a few dom videos on youtube, but I love the "pizza quest" one because of the woman's face when she eats the first bite at the end:

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: redbecca

                                                                                                                                                                        wow, that description is DEAD ON experience every single time. awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Last night, on the way home from work there were several parking spaces open, so we stopped. It had been awhile. There was a line, and a bunch of foodies lounging about looking frustrated and talking in whispers about the wait. Hubby went up to the counter, and asked Signorina about slices. There was only one, so we took it. We sat down, and calmly shared our slice, while the foodies stared at us and whispered about the $4 (!) slice. It was delicious: oily, creamy, crispy, and generously finished with sprigs of fresh basil. Really fresh, licorice-y basil. In and out in 15 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: shindiganna

                                                                                                                                                                          Most people, especially adults, are not satisfied sharing one pie. let alone slice. Had you wanted just one more slice, your experience and wait time would have been totally different.and you would have joined the ranks looking frustrated and talking in whispers about the wait. Your 'reward' for being willing to compromise was the 15 mim in and out, experience :-}

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I smell an aftermarket. Some people have more time than money and others have more money than time. Is there a black-market in pie ? I wonder about the price of a pie at peak demand. What can you get for a hot pie on the street ? A neighborhood kid w/ a hook and a beeper could clean up.