I went so fara for a pie at di fara « blogging for burgers

I went so fara for a pie at di fara

Di Fara on a lazy afternoon

Di Fara on a lazy afternoon

BG and I are out in Los Hamptones for the long weekend, so today we decided to treat ourselves to a long overdue return visit to Di Fara pizza out in Midwood, Brooklyn.  To take you back to our first jaunt out to the faraway land of minivans and Orthodox Jews…

It was December 2008, and BG and I were returning from a weekend out in the Hamptons.  We had never been to Di Fara, but both of us had heard extensive things about it and figured it would be a good time to try.  After a less than convenient detour from the parkway, we made it happen.

Or so we thought.

We walked in to a crowded and hot pizza place. Nothing there was really striking in any way.  I saw Dom DeMarco making the pies, which was kinda cool, but it wasn’t helping cut through the masses of people in the tiny cramped space.  We waited in line for a bit, and when we finally got to the front, it seemed like the worst was over.  We placed our order- one regular pie.  That was pretty easy.

Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.  It was painful watching Dom make the pies, spread the sauce, spread the cheese, pour the oil, put a little more sauce on a spot he missed, re-shape the dough a little bit, add a little bit more cheese, check another pie in the oven, turn a different pie around, check that first pie again, take out a square pie, put it back into the oven, talk to his daughter, go back to the pie he was forming, check the pies in the oven again, burn one and throw it away, go back to forming the pie, and so forth.  You get the idea.

At this point, it had probably been about 10 minutes (I’m pretty impatient).  In my mind, that was 10 minutes too long.  We asked a girl who was sitting alone how long she had been waiting.

“I’ve been here since about 5.45.”

It was 8.15pm.  At that moment, I knew that I had two choices: risk waiting for 2 hours, or get the hell out of dodge and score myself some pizza elsewhere.  My hunger, which was an 8.73 out of 10, told me to do the latter.  In a flurry of expletives, I stormed out onto the street and into my powder blue rental Chevy Aveo.  I laid some tracks out in front of Di Fara, just for good measure, vowing never to return.

Ok, the Aveo didn’t really lay any tracks, but it was powder blue and I did vow to never return.

“Screw that place, NO pizza can be worth waiting 2 hours for,” is what I had to say about that.  I thought about getting a kosher slice at Pizza Time, which is right down the block, but that wasn’t doing it for me either.

Having pizza on the brain, we headed out to Staten Island to get some pizza at Denino’s, which actually holds a special place in my heart because my grandparents used to take me there.  They also happen to have phenomenal thin crust pizza and great fried calamari.  My mom doesn’t like it for some reason, but she’s the only unhappy customer I’ve ever heard of.

Satiated after my sausage pie at Denino’s, I repeated my vow to never return to Di Fara.  I had some choice words for that place.  I was still fuming a bit, and I told BG I was done with it.  You hear me?  Done.

Well, done until yesterday.

You see, when I say I’m “done with a place,” that is really my code for, “I’m really angry that I didn’t get to try that place but I will return on my own terms and when I damn well feel like it.”  That time happened to be yesterday.  I knew that if we got there as they open for lunch, we were assured to get a pie within 20 minutes.  20 minutes for me was tolerable.

So, we packed up the car for the weekend and headed out to Midwood.  The feelings of anger started to bubble within me along with flashbacks of that ill-fated December night as I pulled a louie on Avenue J.  “If I have to wait more than 20 minutes, I am outta there.”  And my hunger was an 8.74 out of 10.  That’s right, I was HUNGRIER than the first time.

Avenue J was bumpin.  This made me even more frustrated.  I was going to have to circle to find a parking spot for this place?  We pulled up to the corner and I dropped off BG in front.  Her mission was simple: one regular pie and one special pie.  My mission was more complex: find a parking space within a reasonable distance.

Parking the car actually ended up being pretty easy.  Apologies for any false sense of drama there.  I didn’t mean to edit the blog like this is an episode of Whale Wars or something.

As I was walking to the place, I get a message on my blackberry: “They’re doing a shoot in here for something.

What did that mean?  Could we not get pizza?  Should I start the car?  Has Dom DeMarco outwitted me again?  He’s an old man and I’m a cunning young advertising executive with charm and style to spare, there was no way this was happening again.

I arrived to find that the “shoot” consisted of a dude with a camera with a fancy remote light flashbox.  The “something” ended up being a “project for myself,” which I think is a fancy term for “being unemployed and bored.”

The order was in, now it was just a waiting game.  The place is a lot nicer during the day, actually.  Dom’s daughter was very friendly, and even Dom himself was cracking a few smiles and laughing a bit.  A young father with his two daughters was videotaping them eat slices of pizza, probably ruining the whole experience for them (“Take a bite.  No, not too big, just a little bite, look at the camera.”  Also, just a side note—do people still call it “videotaping?”  No one really has videotapes anymore.  I originally wrote “filming them eat slices of pizza,” but that has a dirty old man connotation to it that I don’t feel right about in the context of two little girls.)   I imagined them on some sort of father-daughter trip across the US, eating at all of the famous pizza places.  Sounds like a fun trip.  But they were probably just from West Orange, New Jersey.

Finally, after about 20 minutes, it was our turn.  Our regular pie came out first.  It was pretty beautiful.  I mean, it looked like this:

Di Fara Regular Pie

Di Fara Regular Pie

The carefully crafted crust and hand-shorn basil and liberally-applied olive oil looks a lot better when it’s applied to your pie.  Of course MY pie should be perfect, it’s just all of THEIR pies that should be done quickly.  I let the pie rest for a few minutes before diving in, because I knew that this time would be key to its optimal consumption point, much like letting a steak rest after it’s been cooked.

In the meantime, our special pie came.  It, too, demonstrated great artistry.  Although it was a bit greasy, it was still pretty to look at.  Since we got them to go, Dom gave us a few extra basil leaves on the side, just for good measure.  Maybe the old man isn’t such a bad guy, after all.  He’s just an artisan who happens to make a product a lot of people like.  I just wish he could make it a bit faster.

Di Fara Special Pie

Di Fara Special Pie

I then took the first bite of the regular pie.  What hit me first was the olive oil.  It hit me on the chin, actually.  This pie has a lot of oil going on.  The crust was perfect—firm yet with slight doughiness on the top, and all coated in oil.  If you don’t like olive oil, don’t get this pie.  It was Alan Richman’s main complaint about it, and I can understand it, actually.  After the crust and oil, there is a delicate tomato sauce, which tastes as simple as roasted tomatoes with maybe a hint of sugar.  The mozzarella was unremarkable, but clearly fresh, and that was about it.  What hit me most was the pecorino romano—the pungent saltiness coated my mouth and gave the pie an earthy nutty quality that I found to be the most satisfying.  I finished off a slice in about three bites, but that pecorino kept calling back to me.  Even now I can still taste it.

I would write about the special pie but I’m tired.  It was good.  Next time, two regular pies.  And yes, there will be a next time.  20 minutes, you got that, Dom?

6.5 out of 7 cows.

Di Fara
1624 Avenue J, Midwood, Brooklyn

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