Monday, January 11, 2010
Generally, conversation about legendary pizza usually involves a lot of evaluations and comparisons of sauces and crusts. But in the case of DiFara Pizzeria, the conversation these days usually involves a lot of debate about the cost - $5 for one plain slice. It's funny that people are so passionate in this debate. On one New York Times forum, someone questioned why diners could not make an allowance for a pricey slice when the world of consumer goods is already filled with very disparate and often accepted pricing on luxury items and gourmet foods.
Perhaps it is the elevation of what is perceived to be a staple food item in tandem with DiFara being located in a working class neighborhood that makes the price such an effrontery to so many. Coming from Manhattan, I am used to pricing anomalies, so when my friend and I sat down to eat our slices, we tried to focus on the character and taste of the pizza rather than its value.
I had heard about this place, particularly after writing my story on John's Pizzeria on Bleecker Street, when readers commented on the contenders in New York City for their favorite pizza.
DiFara is located at a very busy corner location in Midwood, Brooklyn. The place is small, and the walls are covered with awards and reviews. Lines are standard at DiFara, often one to two hours. On our visit, mid-week and mid-afternoon, we were lucky - there were no lines at all. We were able to chat with the owner and his daughter, Louisa, who was managing the orders and register.
One thing that is particularly unique about DiFara is that every single pizza is still personally made by the owner/founder, Domenico DeMarco, age 72, who has been plying his trade here for 45 years. The owner hails from Provincia di Caserta in Italy, near Naples, birthplace of the modern pizza. After starting a pizzeria in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with his brother, DeMarco opened at his current location in 1964 with partner Farina (hence the name DiFara).
DeMarco prides himself on the quality of his ingredients, imported from places like Israel, the Netherlands, and Italy. The pizza uses three cheeses - Buffalo mozzarella from Caserta, Fior di Latte and Parmigiano Reggiano. His sauce is also homemade, using San Marzano tomatoes from Salerno, Italy. The pies are topped off with olive oil and fresh basil leaves.
Is the pizza worth $5 for a plain slice? The opinions run the gamut. Some say that no pizza is worth that, while others think it is the best on the planet and worth every penny. You could spend your money more extravagantly - unless $5 is just too extravagant, why not try it and decide for yourself? :)
Location: DiFara Pizzeria is located at 1424 Avenue J, at East 15th Street in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. They are closed Monday and Tuesday (and occasionally at other times if DeMarco is unable to work).