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Di Fara Questions

Hello all, in about 2 months my dad and I will be heading to NYC on-route to Greece. Wanting to sample the phenomenon that is Di Fara's pizza, we were looking to head there on a Wednesday for lunch. Really, I have two main questions to ask. Given that we have to be at the airport at 3, and since we are not renting a car, we have to travel by cab from our hotel in Manhattan, to Brooklyn, and back to Manhattan again to get our suitcases, AND THEN finally to the airport (basically, we will need plenty of time), when is the best time for us to go? We were thinking around 11-11:30 ish. Secondly, what should we order for our only time there? A whole pizza or slices for my dad and I? Round or square? Any advice on this place would be greatly appreciated. We are really looking forward to this trip and want our one time there to be something amazing :).

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  1. A whole pie is probably going to be faster and 11:00-11:30 works.

    1. How much stuff do you have? If it were me I would take the luggage in the cab to Difara's then go from DiFara to the airport. I think they would call a car service for you, but as it is not a common request they might not have a number ready. You might be able to order from the hotel or the cab, hard to tell how long the ride from the hotel will be due to unpredictable traffic.

      The Q and B train go to Avenue J, Difara is on the corner as you leave the station. Often the Subway is the fastest most predictable way in NYC.

      As to ordering I personally like the plain round. You can also ask him to put toppings on just one half, or different toppings on each half, or whatever. He usually has a bowl of peppers in olive oil on the counter, they go well on the slices. If it is not crowded you might just buy slices as they come out of the oven. You can never tell how crowded it will be. Some days the crowd is impossible and I just leave.

      As for "something amazing", at the end of the process all you get is pizza. DiFara's is mostly famous for using expensive Italian ingredients; You may have noticed Italy is close to Greece. I bet in Italy they have pizza made of the same stuff. I will admit Mr DiMarco is an excellent craftsmen, but it is still just pizza. Have you considered Chinese or Indian food? Just a thought.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Geo8rge

        i agree with taking the luggage with you, as DiFara's is sort of halfway between manhattan and the airport. (Unless you are going to Newark.)
        Also, if you have to be at the airport at 3, you are cutting it close to go back to manhattan at 12:30, which is probably about when you would finish with difara's if you get there at 11-11:30.
        However, unlike the previous poster, i think difara's is totally worth it, as it is an "only in NYC" experience.
        Take a cab to difara's (or the subway if you packed light) settle yourselves and your suitcases at a table and then go up and order your pie, standing in front of the counter until you get it.
        Then ask them to call a car service. If they don't know the number, another business around there will. Be sure and ask how much the car service will cost before you get off the phone.
        With all that cabbing, it will be some expensive pizza. IMHO worth it, but only you will be able to decide that.

        1. re: Geo8rge

          Only the Q train goes to Avenue J. Also, what are you talking about regards to it being JUST pizza? He's an excellent craftsman. End of story. You just said it. While the Chinese options are excellent, I wouldn't go out of my way to suggest non-Bengali South Asian food.

          Get a regular pie or a regular pie with garlic or a regular pie with half garlic. Do not get toppings on the regular. STAY AT THE COUNTER THE ENTIRE TIME OR YOU WILL NOT GET YOUR PIE! Remind him periodically.

        2. Is it absolutely necessary to do Difara's on the day of your flight? It just seems like a lot of traveling in one day, which could put your odds of on-time arrival at risk. If you don't have too much luggage, bring it with you (get there by 12:30) and leave for the airport from Difara's by 2.

          Otherwise, I would get there no later than 11:15 in order to be out by 12:30 and back at the hotel by 1:15 (because you never know!). You may even have a shot at a clean table that way :)
          Have fun.

          1. Here is what I would do (and I never missed a flight in my life):
            1. Take the subway to DiFara (faster than car in that direction)
            2. Take your bags with you to DiFara's or it will be rushed and no fun. So it makes other customers uncomfortable. We can take it.
            3. Get a whole SQUARE pie, no toppings, except maybe garlic. That ought to do you.
            4. Don't tell Dom to hurry!
            5. Take a car to the airport (best way to go and get dropped off at terminal).

            Leave plenty of time. Eat like you own it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: NYJewboy

              I agree with all of this, however I prefer the round to the square. Plain round pie has always been my favorite. Either way it is delicious. Enjoy.

            2. Two things I know- Di Fara's and going to Greece(I go every summer). Are you taking the daily Delta evening? Regardless of your flight you have to be there three hours before!!! Take your bags with you to Di Fara as others suggested. The Q train is express in Manhattan and is a pretty fast ride for the most part, enter on 34th St or 42nd St since they have an elevator to the station and escalators. Get off on Ave J, it is right at the corner of the station on J. Grab a table first for your stuff, give his daughter your order(he will not take it or forget) and have one of you standing at the counter at all times. Eat at Di Fara because there is no seating at the international terminal until you get through security and you will not be allowed to have a pizza with you. There are a lot of car services in the are call Masada Car Service(forgot the number), they are the closest one, half way through eating. Do not underestimate Brooklyn Belt traffic, if you get there even four hours early, it is better. In regards to your pizza and what you are having, they are not known for square pies, so stick to the classic. Also know, Dom constantly burns the bottom of the pies, tell him you want it light. You should probably keep it plain the first time but we order- proschuitto and poricini mushrooms on ours. Edit- be prepared to wait at least an hour to eat, even for week day lunch.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mslex

                who says they are not known for their squares? while i might prefer the round (by a hair), the square pie is excellent and renowned on this board.

                a round and a square pie is way too much for two, so i would get a round pie and two square slices. I'm not much for toppings there. Never understood the cult of the artichoke slice. To me, the artichoke gets lost in all that cheesy, tomatoey, crusty goodness.

                also, in case this is an issue for you--be warned that dom used proscuitto heels in the sauce for his square (not round) pies, so squares are not vegetarian, halal, or kosher.

                  1. re: NYJewboy

                    If you happen to have leftovers, bring some plastic bags and bring it with you on the plane! Or, I don't know, sell it to folks who are still waiting for their pies. Hah.

              2. I never undewrstood the lack of proper veneration for the square. Since this is a special occasion, why not get a square pie AND a round pie? There are 2 of you! What you cannot eat stuff in your pocket for the plane (I wish life were that simple).

                4 Replies
                1. re: NYJewboy

                  Honestly, I was considering suggesting to pastry that they order one of each and ask for a takeout box for the leftovers, as long as they can fit it into their carry-on bags.

                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                    That's how I would roll. Hey, it's a vacation isn't it? That's how my wife and I carry on in Italy when we go every year.

                    1. re: NYJewboy

                      Haha, yeah, we may just get both. Should we get a square and round pie, or a slice of each? Ah heck, why not a pie? Regardless, I am very excited. Any suggestions on a good time to get there by?

                      1. re: pastry634

                        The line has no logic. I would just say as early as your schedule allows. And get 2 pies, for heavens sake.

                2. There are a lot of plain pie purists around this board, but I love the melty garlicky sauteed artichoke (on a round) and the thick slices of pepperoni (on a square). Bear in mind that getting artichoke will add at least 15 minutes onto your wait.

                  1. The most important thing of all is to call beforehand and make sure that he's open at that time. It would be a disaster if he opens at noon, which I think he might.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: waylook

                      you're right. i think they open at noon. and closed mondays.

                      1. re: waylook

                        I don't live in the area and always travel to get there, but according to websites I look at, he does open at noon. And if that is the case, this is going to be extremely rushed. The only way you would have a chance would be going with NYJewboy's advice.

                        I assume you are going to JFK to travel to Greece? And if you are traveling to Greece, shouldn't you be at the airport by 1:30 tops? If this is the case, your best case scenario is getting to Difara's by noon, getting your pie by hopefully 12:30, eating it until 1:00 and then taking the car directly from there to JFK, which will take 25 to 30 minutes if there isn't any traffic.

                        By the way, although two pies would be pretty great, that seems like way too much food. I'd go with a regular pie and then just a slice each of the square. That would be quite the feast.

                        1. re: Taylor.Watson

                          Thanks a bunch Taylor. Do you think its necessary to call ahead? Or is calling before noon not worth it? Also, if I would call, do I order over the phone, too? We are going on a random Wednesday afternoon and plan to be there right at noon when he opens.

                          1. re: Taylor.Watson

                            "Noon" is a guideline, not a rule. I've been standing out there with folks 20 minutes past noon until Dom decides to open the doors to the world.

                            Calling is always worth a shot but I've often seen Dom, lost in his own world, making pies, and totally ignoring the phone.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Does he always open around noon or later? I swear I've been there a few times on Saturdays and he would open around 11am, or a little after.

                              As far as the original question of what to order, two whole pies is absurd for 2 people leaving for the airport unless you want to end up giving some away. I would get up to the counter, scope out what slices are available if any, square or round, order one or two of those and then a whole pie of something else and have one of you stay near the counter until the pie is done while the other grabs a table. Personally I prefer the round, and it's less filling. To me the squares seem to be better when fresh out of the oven instead of reheated while the round slices tolerate reheating a little better; but that could be personal preference.

                              I think no matter what the OP does, they're cutting it close on time. The best advice if you're determined to do this is get there as early as possible. You want to be first or almost first in the the door or you might not even have a table to sit down.

                              1. re: gnocchi

                                Sorry for all the questions, I just want to get the most out of my NYC pizza experience :). But, do you think we will be better off going to a safer place (safer in terms of time constraint and the other uncontrollable variable associated with Di Fara's) such as Lombardi's or Grimaldi's? Don't get me wrong, I realize we will be sacraficing quality, but I have heard decent things about those 2 places.

                                1. re: pastry634

                                  Pastry, could you tell us where you will be staying and confirm the time you need to arrive at the airport? I know you said 3pm. Is it still so?

                                  1. re: pastry634

                                    Go to Dom's -- you'll be fine. And the wait at Grimaldi's can be an hour long easily if it's a nice day. (Not to mention it's a much worse pizza).

                                    And for heaven's sake. Get 2 pies, one of each. You're spending god knows how much on the vacation -- what's an extra $25 for a second pizza?

                                    1. re: pastry634

                                      I think Difara will work out if you bring your luggage.

                                      I don't think Grimaldi is worth the effort, see the other posts for so-so experiences. You might post on the Manhattan board for ideas. Also worth considering is the chain "California Pizza Kitchen" http://www.cpk.com/.

                                      Beyond Pizza consider "Blue Smoke" (BBQ). Keen's steak house, And The Peking Duck house. All in Manhattan. Peter Lugar in Brooklyn but close to Manhattan might also be worth consideration.

                                      1. re: Geo8rge

                                        Oh my George, was that a thinly veiled attack on tourists via sarcasm?

                                        Don't go to Grimaldi's or Lombardi's. Both are more or less awful and not a whole lot better than many corner pizzerias. At least Grimaldi's is just as risky in terms of waiting too. The only alternatives I would suggest have waiting times that are just as bad. Ultimately, go to Dom's. No reason not too unless it really is too early. If you want eats closer to JFK I can suggest some great Guyanese and Trinidadian food, but you're coming for pizza.

                                        1. re: JFores

                                          In my opinion Grimaldi's is OK but not worth going to Brooklyn for. Maybe if you were already in downtown Brooklyn. I cannot name a better downtown Brooklyn place. If they want Pizza, they got it in Manhattan. DiFara is special but only because they use genuine Italian ingredients, like the kind they use in that country right next to Greece, aka Italy. DiFara is lacking in decore (to be kind) but it does have a neighborhood vibe that would be interesting for anyone from outside Brooklyn.

                                          I would say California Pizza Kitchen would be interesting as it is the style of Pizza most mutated from the Italian original.

                                          I also suspect that the pizza in Italy (known for being near Greece) uses genuine Italian ingredients. I also suspect that these days Athens has top notch pizza somewhere too.

                                      2. re: pastry634

                                        Do NOT go to either Lombardi's or Grimaldi's. Both are really awful. The only alternatives I could suggest to you (ei Lucali's) are just as risky.

                                        1. re: JFores

                                          You know how I share your Grimaldi sentiments JFores, but out of convenience I got a large pie last week, extra well done (they like me in there and did it) and it was really good, surprisingly good. Now keep in mind that my wife and I poured olive oil we brought back from Umbria all over it, and put on our own parm reg cheese. It was far far far from Dom, but I liked it. Glory be the miracles of small matters!