Saturday, July 16, 2005

Di Fara Pizza, slower than a turtle

On Saturday I finally checked off the last of the famed New York pizzerias on my list. Pizza at Di Fara is hand crafted under the rule of Dominick DeMarco (or Dom as he's known by the regulars), who, himself, is an authentic slice of Italy. Watching him make pizza is a riveting, zen-like experience. Each pizza is painstakingly constructed solely by Dom (and has been for over 40 years), from the tossing of the dough, the swirling of the sauce, and the grating and spreading of three cheeses, to the final addition of olive oil and pepperoni (or whatever your topping of preference happens to be). He nicely rounds it all off by bare-handing the pizzas out of the oven. And he does all of this at the speed of a three-toed sloth. Waits up to two hours long are apparently not an unusual occurence.

Marty, Tera, Dave Hersch, and I split a half plain/half pepperoni pie. The pizza itself was quite good, though not the best I've had since my tour of New York pizzerias began. The pepperoni, though, may be the best I've ever had--sliced thick and with a mild kick to it. The pizza's faults were a too-heavy cheese-to-sauce ratio and an uneven crust. However, what it lacked in flavor (which I'd like to stress is not a lot) it made up for in its artful creation.

As a bonus they had bottles of IBC root beer stocked in the fridge.

Of all the famed pizzerias in the city only Patsy's on 118th and Di Fara sell individual slices. If I had to choose one place to go out of my way to get a slice (and believe me they are both well out of my way), it would be Di Fara, as you'll always get a fresh slice... because Dom makes 'em so slowly.

As for a whole fresh pie? It depends on the day. Totonno's is the most consistent pizza in the city. The crust is always perfectly baked and the sauce-to-cheese ratio that barely fluctuates. However it lacks the robustness of flavor that you'll find in a pizza from Patsy's or Grimaldi's. Meanwhile, Una Pizza Napoeltana is the place to go if you want authentic Neopolitan pizza, though Pepperoncino's and No. 28 are a very close second and third, respectively. Franny's is the only place worth visiting for organic pizza. And you can't beat the value of a pizza from La Villa (as long as you hold off on their D.O.C. pizza, with its imported ingredients and subsequent ballooned price), which also makes an incredible pie. Any given day, any one of these fine establishments could slice up the best pizza in the city. I just hope I'm there to eat some of it when it's served...

My visit to Di Fara by no means signals the end of my pizza outings or my posting pizza reviews on this blog. There will always be new pizzerias to visit and old ones to re-visit. If anyone's interested in dropping by the city for a pie, let me know. I'd be happy to join you.

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