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Mar 19, 2008 07:41 AM

DiFara (Review)

I don’t eat much pizza. But when friends mentioned a DiFara outing they were planning, I glommed on immediately, invited myself, and also offered up my husband, who generally claims not to like pizza, to drive us out to Avenue J. Given all the discussion about the line (or lack thereof) etc., I wanted to take the opportunity to go with someone who’d been before. So, last night around 5pm the five of us met up, and drove to Brooklyn. We arrived just after 6pm, parked, and went in, armed with a bag of bottles of wine and an opener, and some hand wipes usually reserved for dog that I’d grabbed on the way out. We’d discussed our order in the car – one plain pie, one round with artichoke hearts, and one square pepperoni. When we entered, we saw a hand written sign on the door, which stated that “due to an injury” the pies might take longer than usual, and to please be patient. Our DiFara “expert” went to the counter, where six or seven people were milling about, and ordered.

Meanwhile, we spied an empty small round table in a back corner, and some in our group went to claim it, and add chairs, and eventually a small square table. While my husband opened the wine, I popped across the street for some plastic cups. Glass of wine in hand, I then joined my friend, our expert, at the counter to watch Mr. DeMarco at work, as I did, off and on, for the next hour and a half. What a joy. It was like watching a ballet in slow motion, as he gracefully, slowly, moved from stretching out the dough to adding the ingredients, sliding pies in and out of the oven, reaching here and there for more ingredients, grating the cheese, drizzling the olive oil, snipping the basil, and then, finally, gloriously, presenting a pie.

My friend suggested that we offer Mr. DeMarco a glass of wine, so I went up to the counter and asked his daughter if he might like a glass. She said that it might help stave off the pain of his broken ribs, and he then accepted it, even though I told him it was French and not Italian, and certainly not an Amarone. Upon a return visit to the counter, he told me that the French and the Italians make the best wines, and that this one was nice and dry. At that point, I had a chat with a woman who’d been waiting since we had arrived. She told me that she comes every Tuesday on her way home from work to get a pizza for her 29 year old son, and has been doing so for 4 years. This led to a lovely conversation about families, and what we do for the ones we love. Seemingly quickly, we got our plain round (maybe it had been intended for slices?). I almost don’t have words to describe this pizza, or the ones that ensued. It truly was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The crust, the char, the melding of cheese and tomato and olive oil and herbs. Glorious.

We ate, we drank, we watched. Then the artichoke pie came out. The melted former mounds of mozzarella, the olive oil, the beautiful artichoke hearts … more heaven. We reinforced our supply of paper plates and napkins. By this point, most of us had clothing that was adorned with splatters of tomato, oil and cheese. The handy wipes did, in fact, become handy. More wine, then the words “pepperoni square” rang out, and we retrieved it. We’ve moved from the plain round, to a round with topping, to a square with topping. Different, chewier, but just as truly wonderful. More crust, more cheese, some of the best pepperoni I’ve ever had. More sighs of happiness. By 8pm or so, it became time to leave – two bottles of wine gone, our table littered with napkins and plates. We organized once again as we had upon our arrival – trash in the trash bin, wine bottles in the “recycling” area in the window, leftover pizza divided and carefully placed on top of layers of foil and wax paper into the small boxes, $75 bill paid, the unopened third bottle of the wine given to Mr. DeMarco, we walk out the door, smiles all around.

I think I’m in love – not just with the pizza, but with the place. We had a joyful, relaxed experience – wine, food, friends, in the presence of one who clearly loves the same.

Edit: I realized, while writing this, how rude it was of me not to offer Mr. DeMarco's daughter a glass of wine as well. Hope to correct that next time.

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  1. How did your husband like it?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Val55

      Loved it. Turns out it's bad pizza he doesn't like, and he usually isn't willing "to take the risk"! He also claims not to like cake, but that is "a whole nother story" so to speak.

    2. it's been a long while since I was last at DiFara, but your post definitely has me hankering! Thanks for a great write-up.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Pat Hammond

        MMRuth, thanks for that wonderful review. You clearly had the right attitude for eating at DiFara's. Sorry to hear about Dom's broken ribs, but it must have been recent. We were there less than two weeks ago and he was fine (although it still took nearly an hour and a half to get our broccoli rabe round pie).

        1. re: bobjbkln

          Thanks - we got our three pies within, I'd say, an hour and fifteen minutes or so of ordering, and they were nicely paced. His daughter - Maggie? - was writing down orders and keeping track, I noticed. She was really very sweet and friendly - asked us if it was our first visit (must have been the glow in our eyes that tipped her off!). We'd finish one, a moment of silence would ensue, discuss, etc., and then the next one would be up. From everything I'd read, the attitude was key. We were there for however long it took to get our pizzas. Bringing the wine and opener was certainly a good call - though I did notice a liquor store very close by, as well!

          1. re: MMRuth

            Nice review-by the way, for your next trip I'd recommend bringing your wine again-that liquor store doesn't have much to offer by way of decent wine.

      2. I was there yesterday six hours before you at noon. My girlfriend and I were thinking we could beat the crowd by going right at opening time on a weekday. There was already a large group of tourists from Boston waiting. Someone said that Dom wouldn't be there until 12:30 at the earliest. We were too hungry to wait, so we bailed. When do people think the best time to go is? I think I'm going to try 3pm next time.

        1. MMRuth - this post was so incredibly well written and descriptive that I literally had to leave my desk and go down and grab a slice when I finished reading it. Unfortunately, it wasn't from DiFara....

          2 Replies
          1. re: David B

            Thank you. I was actually reticent about posting this, given all the snarkiness that sometimes (often?) ensues on DiFara threads!

            1. re: MMRuth

              I too thought you wrote a beautiful review and I am not a DiFara devotee. It almost made me want to try going again...
              And then I snapped out of it :-}
              Seriously, it was a a pleasure to read of your experience.

          2. Just wanted to chime in since I was lucky enough to be at this dinner. Really an all around perfect meal experience. My favorite part (besides watching Dom) was the pepperoni square.