Best Pizza I ever ate
The other day I had a chance to work with the same group of people that I had been with in NYC in the spring, oh heck it was even the same movie, but that is another story (coming soon to interactivehank). It had been seven weeks or so since seeing these folks and of course the topic of pizza came up, as it always does at some point or another on movie set. I was proud to admit that I had not had a single bite of pizza since the trip to NY, specifically to Brooklyn and really specifically the last time I had been to Di Fara Pizza.
Then just the other day while watching my son partake of a swimming lesson, I over heard some friends talking about the pros and cons of different pizza spots in and around LA. Now, these particular folks REALLY know there pie, but I just couldn't say anything, all I could do is say to myself, "Hank, go home, put the Di Fara Pizza page up on interactivehank and believe that one day you will return to that sanctuary".
Thanks Walker and Nick
My trip to Di Fara pizza.
You may already be wondering if I am going to be stupid enough to make a statement like that "I found the best pizza", well it ain' t gonna happen. I only want to tell you about an amazing place called Di Fara in Brooklyn. Amazing? why? you might ask?
Amazing for many reasons, its size, its locale, its clientele and of course for first and foremost reason, its pizza.
I did not discover Di Fara and will not even pretend that it hides outside the unavoidable inexactitude of zagatness. Dispite its known-ness, Di Fara is a great place and once the current owner and pie crafter is gone, I likely imagine it will languish no more in it's splendid odiferous ness.
Di Fara is one block from the nearest subway station at Avenue J along the stalwart Q line. The neighborhood has a mixture of Russian and Hasidic Jews. There are many great stores and things to be scene in the area. Before sitting down to my pie I enjoyed quite a lengthy stroll along the boulevard wondering if the neighborhood had changed over the last 50 years. I can tell one thing for sure: if for some bizarre reason you are still able to eat anything after Di Fara, I am sure some of the best hamentashen in the city can be found in this area.
The restaurant itself is nothing more than a pizza stand, a corner slice joint with three small tables, no counter service and a sliding glass beverage case. The fans come in waves and while I was there (Tues. 3-5 pm) the wait for a slice went from zero to fifteen minutes a number of times.
As would be the same for any great slice joint, there was an incredible assortment of patrons. A gang of mixed ethnic teens were at the only occupied table when I got there. They knew the owner by name. A loud and outrageously un-feminine prostitute with her john were there for the second time that day. He ate a Haagan-Daz ice cream on a stick while waiting for their slices and checked their voice mail jointly over a very loud speaker phone. Also there was a lovely soft-spoken Italian girl of say 14 who had also been in very recently. When the owner/maker asked why she wanted more, she just smiled softly and said in an almost inaudible tone "because it is sooooooo good". In addition there was a German tourist couple that immediately cut in front of me and ordered a pie to go (I did not mind, I was in no hurry). And there was a young mother and her son who wanted four slices, but only got one because according to her that is all he ever can eat. Amongst others.
OK, I said it before and I must reiterate, I am not trying to sell this as the best pie in New York. As my five-week study has proven, there too many variables to make such a gross statement. All I am saying is that this here is some darn good eating and the manner in which your pie is lovingly made would stand against any dining experience I have ever had in my life. That's right. The owner/creator makes every single pie himself. He slowly tosses and shapes the dough. He spreads the clumpy, clearly homemade tomato sauce on top. He crumbles the fresh mozzarella on top, he slices the provolone (?) from large balls onto one small area and then uses his years of knowledge to distribute them accordingly. After that comes the premium Bertoli olive oil that has been sequestered into a copper spouted can and the entire pie is covered with precision. Into the oven it goes and almost every time, the Man-the Owner- the Creator, would disappear into the back, presumably to rest for five minutes. The oven is very hot because the pies take less than ten minutes to get to a wonderfully uneven char coaled crustiness. Once out of the oven, they are rested on the counter where the creator then scissors fresh basil on top, then he goes and hands-grinds fresh parmesan that has been skivved from a Gibralter-esue mound and unceremoniously throws down a paper plate. "You want extra cheese" he intones?
As I sat facing the street, slowly making my way through more than half the pie, I knew I had found the pizza I have been looking for. This place has character, history, humor, no pretense and some really great zaa. I had a moment where I thought I would slowly make my way through the entire pie, it was one of those wonderful pizza highs where as the pizza got colder it was taking on new and different qualities and was almost as desirable at the halfway point as it was from the start.
Alas, I got full before my pie was finished. maybe it was the large bottle of Pelegrino I quaffed alongside my Di Fara pie.
Di Fara Pizza
If you would like another take on Di Fara by one of my friends that helped me discover Di Fara and that eats pizza multiple times a week and tells the great tale of how I brought him a pizza on a moving NYC subway, read from the Monkey Overlord. The tale of pizza in NYC is in the July 9th post, the photo at top is me with the Monkey Overlord himself making French Toast at the Bethesda Fountain and giving it away, but THAT is another story for sure.