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Jul 23, 2013 06:38 PM

spumoni gardens or difara's


I live in ct and frequently enjoy going to Brooklyn to enjoy spumoni gardens pizza. Currently, in my opinion, it is the best. Due to recent research and pressure from friends, I plan to try difara's. My question is, which is better? Do more people like difara's or spumoni gardens? Please judge solely on the food. Disregard wait times, decor, location, etc.

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  1. I have been to Spumoni Gardens twice in the last 12 years (I live about a mile and a half away). Both times the square pie (which is the recommended one) was raw in the middle and tasted like it was slathered with tomato paste. I can't imagine why anyone likes it but they do. I believe it may have been good at one time, but in my experience, not so. I'm sure you will find many people who disagree with my comments.

    As for DiFara's (which is also the same distance from me in the other direction), I refuse to wait in line for hours and pay $5 a slice. For the amount of time spent waiting, I would rather hop a train and go to New Haven for Modern Apizza or to West Haven for Zuppardi's.

    1. Apples and oranges!!! Both excellent but worlds apart.
      Try Tottonno's which is close by in Coney Island without a long wait but no slices.
      You may also want to try Lucali's in Cobble Hill for their amazing pizza but no slices.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Motosport

        I always prefer L&B, the square is my favorite slice in all of NYC and the experience of sitting out on the benches on a warm summer afternoon can't be beat. I think Di Fara, while very good, is way too expensive and the experience stinks in that cramped dirty space with ridiculous waits.

        1. re: Motosport

          For what it's worth, Tottonno's also can grow a pretty big line.

        2. I think the pizza at Difara is perfection. It may be my favorite food in Brooklyn. I love the round and square pies (no special toppings, just as he makes them). I hope you enjoy!

          1. DiFara is world class ,hands down, the best pizza I have ever had. Not everytime though as Dom is as inconsistent these days as he is great. L and B is is mediocre at best. It is elevated by the scene, think Saturday Night Fever on a Saturday night, and the enjoyment of sitting outside on a beautiful evening. The pizza is not very good. For a frame of reference, Pepe's clam pie when right is one of my top five pizza's. Go, be there a half hour before he opens and you will not regret the trip.

            21 Replies
            1. re: stuartlafonda

              I still think that Spumoni Gardens offers an enjoyable pie, along with the ankle bracelets, but its slid a bit over the years .If you havent had Di Fara's go. Its delicious (square preferred by us also) and he doesnt stint on the ingredients (good olive oil and cheese, for example)

              I know I keep complaining about that pepe's clam pie, but last time we went it was also almost inedible - rubbery clam bits and overwhelmed with garlic - id hate for that to be the standard of comparison!.

              1. re: jen kalb

                I think that the issue with comparing disappointment with L and B vs Pepes is really apples to oranges. An over-garliced, bad clammed nearly burnt Pepes pizza is a problem of execution - if the clams had been better, garlic more moderate, char just lighter etc. Unlike Pepe's, i suspect people who dont love L and B's are just not down with the (somewhat idiosyncratic) style. I dont hear people saying "Spumoni Gardens used to be better" the complaints generally fall more on the fact that it is doughy, saucy and kind of "wet" as a style, not that they missed the mark in trying to make anything other than their own pizzas.

                As it goes i think DiFara's square is my all-time favorite pie, Pepe's clam has been super exceptionally excellent also. Never really cared for L&B style-wise (and i dont understand how anyone can eat more than, maaaaybe, two pieces. I say this as someone with a rather hearty appetite - but that stuff sits like lead.)

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  I prefer a welldone L&B pizza myself, and the edge slices over the center. agree about the wetness potential. Ingredients may be a bit of a factor in what I see as a decline- weve been going there for almost 30 years now, and I dont think they use olive oil to the degree they did at an earlier time - from going in the back I think their "recipe" involves no rocket science.

                  Dom's square pie is wonderful - although his dough is excellent and light, I dont think anyone would classify the overall experience as one of lightness, with the olive oil dose and cheese, as well as potentially sauteed vegetable ingredients he adds - its a very rich pie

                  Weve never had a problem with the char at Pepe's - or the pie itself - our bad clam pie came in an order with two other pies, a sausage and margherita, which were both good, although weve noticed that their standard sausage and mozzarella ingredients are less excellent than in former years - Im sure they used to buy them handmade from a store down the street, now I dont think so. the margherita was the best of the lot.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Sorry that you have had bad clam pies experiences, luckily I have not. That is both at Pepe's and next door at "The Spot". I usually go at quiet times and that may account for the fact that I have had a better experience. The expansion all over the state is probably a problem as well as there are less experienced people at every level,from the pizzaioli to the schuckers to the waitstaff.

                    1. re: stuartlafonda

                      these were not freshly shucked clams....and it was a Saturday lunch. Ill not order again unless I see a good looking pie on a table.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        There it is. On my last visit, last summmer, I saw a guy sitting on a plastic bucket in the oven area shucking clams. Sadly those were not the ones you got. Also,I think it is a pizzaioli problem,if not a bigger problem that they can't balance tender clams with charred crust.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          They never were freshly shucked clams. Always out of a can (albeit, a very large one).

                            1. re: stuartlafonda

                              No need to get hysterical. I was just explaining that those are not the clams you get on the clam pizza. They are for the clams on the half shell appetizer.

                              1. re: Sluggo1407

                                for a brief period a place down the street a little from Pepes- set back from the street that served white pies with freshly shucked clams on top - and a bit of lemon - fantastic.

                                Apropos of nothing, I just had the clam pie at Franny's for the first time - its a very strange animal, with a creamy topping (from their cookbook, I now see that it has a stock reduction with wine, and cream added) - clam pieces were good crust was good and the taste was good, (TOO salty and I am a salt lover) but I had to fold my slices to get a proper blend of crust and savor,- it was a more complex production that did not have the simple wonderful constrast that first, fresh clam pie in New Haven.Parsley on top was a saving grace.

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  its not even remotely trying for Pepe's style, but the clam pie at motorino is quite good. im usually with shellfish averse folks so i dont get to order it as often as id like, but it is fairly well delightful.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    Next door to Pepe's in the back of the parking lot, set back from the street, is The Spot. Pepe's claims it is the original site of Frank Pepe's Pizza and is under the same ownership. A few times when the line for Pepe's was crazy long I ate at The Spot and it seemed the same to me.

                                    1. re: stuartlafonda

                                      I am NOT talking about the Spot, Im talking about a place on the other side of Pepes a block or so away. The building is still there, with its parking lot in fron but its been years since it was a restaurant serving pizza..

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        You may be talking about Tony & Lucille's.

                                        1. re: Sluggo1407

                                          maybe. Historically we usually showed up in the neighborhood on a weekend or holiday while travelling and often Pepes was closed (forget about Sallys we never got to eat there) so we at at the Spot on several occasions, one time at a place, on the other side of the street on a corner (not so good), another time at the place Im describing, which was set back with a wide frontage a parking lot in front. When we ate there it was a full restaurant now I think it may serve coffee or gelato? Cant remember. The italian flavor of that neighborhood isnt what it was..

                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            OK. Now I understand. The place on the other side of the street on the corner was Tony & Lucille's. They were more noted for their Italian dishes than pizza. The place serving coffee & gelato is Libby's. People used to eat at Pepe's or Sally's and then go to Libby's for gelato. Maybe they served food for a time, but not back in my day (60's). Libby's (like everything else) has deteriorated over the years. I was there a few years ago and had a lousy lemon ice. How do you screw up lemon ice? As for Sally's, it's much different than Pepe's with a sweeter tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella and it's never open for lunch. You are either a Pepe's fan or a Sally's fan, but never both. The rivalry is like the cheesesteak wars between Pat's and Geno's in Philadelphia.

                                    2. re: jen kalb

                                      I don't mean to lead this thread astray... but I totally agree with what you say about the clam pie at Franny's, jen kalb. I didn't like the creamy clam sauce. It was salty, and it made the pie taste heavy. Almost oppressive. Like the pie was punishing me for something.

                                      Regarding DiFara's, I've commented on other DF threads. I won't go back, no matter how good the pizza is. It was very, very good, but i will never willingly wait 2 hours for any pizza for any reason ever again.

                                      1. re: egit

                                        I think you just followed my lead down the Frannys clam pie path....I was really sorry I didnt like it much - Weve liked their other pies very much better. and were hoping for a dellicious clam pie.

                                        Not sure whether Dom woud make one of these - I have had spaghetti with (fresh) clams at Di Faras,but that was years ago,

                                    3. re: Sluggo1407

                                      Yes, thank you for talking me down, my apologies. I get more worked up about pizza then I should. Next, I agree that $5 and a ridiculously long wait is a reason to stay away, but if you go with others and just when he opens? That is the way to go and everyone should eat Dom's pizza at least once. We agree though, Pepe's clam pie when right,is great.

                            2. re: jen kalb

                              There used to be a lot of good Italian sausage makers in New Haven. Like everything else, they fell by the wayside. Back in the day (60's, 70's) Pepe's premier pie was the sausage pie with slices of fennel sausage. After Mrs. Pepe died, the sausage (God knows where they started buying it) was crumbled on top of the pie. It now has no flavor whatsoever.

                        2. re: stuartlafonda

                          Having lived across the street from Pepe's growing up, I have seen the pizza go from spectacular to downright lousy after Mrs. Pepe died in the mid-80's. The ingredients were cheapened and corners were cut. The clam pie, however, still ranks among the best in the country. For some better pies in New Haven, see my post above.

                        3. I've had better luck at L&B when very busy as they undercook the square pizza just enough. If not busy they tend to let it dry in the oven. 20 years of it makes one a "connoisseur"? I also take issue with the amount of sugar in their sauce.

                          DiFara. If you have never been, do go. Many I know are not amazed their first trip. I wasn't either my first taste nearly 15 years ago. But I went again. And again. And again...

                          If you say "DiFara Pizza" to anyone from Brooklyn, their reply would most likely be, "Where's that?"