DiFara -1464 Ave. J, Midwood, Brooklyn
Two squares, two zeppolis, a can of A&W Cream Soda
Once again, I was facing a monumental decision. Reunited with New York, I had to figure out where I'd go to celebrate my return. There were so many places I missed while traveling, so many flavors and locales unique to my hometown, and I had such a limited time left to eat. I just couldn't bear to squander any opportunities with a mediocre meal.
But then I remembered that I was meeting up with Dario, my former officemate from the law firm and a two-stop veteran of the now-famous Pizza World Tour (see May 22). He'd been floored by DiFara that day and proceeded to bring it up for weeks. He spoke about Dominic's square (known as the Sicilian elsewhere) with a kind of breathless reverence ordinarily reserved for A-list celebrity sightings. I half-wondered if he would still be rhapsodizing about it now, six months after the fact. Sure enough, when I asked him if he had any dining out suggestions, right away he threw out, "How about DiFara?"
We met up outside the pizzeria, a street down from the J train in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Midwood. Inside, the line was already packed, as veteran pizzaiolo Dominic and his son focused on crafting pie after beautiful pie. He cut and sprinkled fresh basil on the creations. He ground cheese and poured olive oil across the dough canvases. It was just as enjoyable to watch as ever, making the crowded half-hour wait a little more tolerable.
I'd been planning to order a plain square and a sausage square, but by the time I got up to the counter, I compromised by getting two of the plain squares fresh from the oven. It was faster and easier than waiting for the customized sausage. I also got zeppolis, which came three for a dollar, to split with Dario. After all, what could represent Brooklyn better than fried dough?
The squares, like all the pizza at DiFara, taste infinitely better when they're steaming hot. That wasn't a problem as, right away, we tore into the delicious dishes. The pizza was still as quintessential New York as we had built it up, the square still as complex and simple as the best out there. It didn't compare to the Naples pizza I recently had (reviews still to come), only in the sense that they were so different in style and execution they were practically unrelated.
The zeppolis didn't inspire the same amazement. They were good in the same way all zeppolis in any neighborhood pizzeria are tasty, but they didn't stand out or wow us like the pizza. Part of the reason was that the dough balls had cooled off by the time we were ready for them. Also, it'd be hard to imagine a dessert that would be able to compete with the pizza. In fact, in a city of thousands and thousands of restaurants, it's hard to think of much that could compete with DiFara's pizza, or a food that could have made for such a welcoming homecoming. 9/10
From New York to Costa Rica to Europe to California: 365 Days of Dining Out
- Name: Lonesome Hero
Wednesday, November 30, 2005