The Di Fara Pizza Legend: The $5 Slice

I had read about Di Fara Pizza (1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY 11230) from an article in the NYT this summer that they had raised their prices to an unprecedented $5 a slice, ridiculous for many New Yorkers who believe that a pizza slice should be about the same as a one-way subway ride (currently $2.25). I paid no mind to it, previous to that article I had never heard of this place, and being that I wasn’t much of a pizza lover there was no pressing need to try it since it was a little out of the way.

However, we found ourselves nearby following a bike ride to Fort Tilden on Saturday, and there was miraculously no line! We each had a slice and watched the old man make the pies, and I’d have to admit that part of the appeal of this place is the authentic feel and effort exerted into making each pie.

Di Fara’s is an old-fashioned, family-owned establishment where this 72-year old man named Domenico DiMarco has been making the pizzas for decades. He claims that the secret to his pies’ success is the fact that he’s the only one who makes the pies from start to finish, and it’s true. If he’s ever sick or unable to get to work, the store is closed, and its hundred daily customers are heartbroken.

This is the slice I got post-bike ride and I would have to say it’s one of the best pizzas I’ve had, probably equal only to the pizzas you can find in Rome. According to several articles I’ve read on Di Fara’s, all ingredients are imported from Italy and you can taste immediately, from the flavorful olive oil that’s sprinkled on the pie along with cheese and fresh herbs Mr. DiMarco snips onto each slice with an old pair of kitchen shears. I’d have to say I haven’t had pizza that tasty in the US. The closest to DiFara’s would be a couple of pizzas I’ve had in Rome.

Three months later, our biking companions decided to brave the DiFara line to pick up two pies for World Series Sunday. It took them two hours of standing in a line which stretched around the corner of the place, where they met and made friends with people who were came over all the way from the Bronx and New Jersey.  It was great to have DiFara’s watching the ballgame, but one has to admit that like most places, takeout is not as good as getting it fresh from the oven.

While this pie is definitely exceptional, I still believe its appeal comes from the entire experience of watching this pizza made from scratch by a rickety old man for an hour, each lingering step contributing to each amazing taste sensation. Couple that with the hour-long wait, the banter of New Yorkers in line, and how hungry you while reciting “Patience is a virtue,” DiFara’s definitely is something to try. For five bucks a slice it’s definitely not for everyday ($25 a pie is actually more economical), but still a New York experience for the books.

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