Di Fara's - So, so sad.

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TnTinCT
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2015/12/31 09:01:35 (permalink)

Di Fara's - So, so sad.

We have never been to one of the holy grails of pizza, Di Fara's in Brooklyn, and since we had reasonably nice outdoor weather and a day off, we headed out on the 3 hour drive to Brooklyn to visit the "master" of pizza. We knew to expect lines and long waits, and arrived at 1130a for a noon opening - we were the 6th group in line at that time. By the time noon arrived there were more than 50 people already waiting.
At noon, a lady came out and said they have a private party, but she'll take orders and we can come back for pizza. So - we ordered; a slice of the square pizza with sausage and onions, and a whole pizza - half pepperoni and half just cheese. It's a great neighborhood so we walked around, did a little local food shopping, and headed back to the store at 1p.
The store was locked up tight, you could see a large table with people at it, and a sign directed you to their sweet shop around the corner to place your pizza order. We headed there, and saw a few folks that had been ahead of us eating pizza - jammed into the sweet shop that had 3 tiny metal tables with 2 chairs each and a sofa. We checked in - not ready yet, and we hung out on the sidewalk outside. After we had been hanging for a few, the woman realized the slice we had ordered was sitting there in a bag, so she brought it out and we ate it on the street. Since by that time it was barely room temperature, I have to say it still tasted pretty good - the crust was beautiful for a sicilian slice; light and airy inside, and crusty outside. It was a bit spoiled for me as I don't care for room temp or cold pizza at all, so the lack of heat was disappointing. I assume it would have been better if we actually received it when it was ready. I think we made the mistake of toppings, also - not thinking that they cook the whole pizza in advance, then probably add toppings just to reheat it, so they weren't really integrated with the pizza, just sitting on top.
 

 

 
Every so often, someone would come out of the side door of DiFara's with a pizza in a box and walk it into the sweet shop.No pie for us, and now we see people we know were in line behind us eating. So - we got in line at 1130, ordered at 1210p, and finally at 210p our pizza arrived in the box. We opened it there to be sure we got the right pizza - and this is what was in the box.
 

 
No char, no cook on the crust, in fact it's barely cooked through. There is also no sign of any of the fresh basil that is supposedly cut on each pie as it comes out of the oven. We talked to the woman in sweet shop who pointed up the street and said "go talk to them" - she didn't care and was too busy telling people that walked in to order pizza that it would be a 2 and a half hour wait. We carried our pizza up the street - by this time there was a large crowd around the door, and no one that worked there to be seen in the window, so we carried it back to our car and ate it there.
Here's a close up - 
 

 
I think I could have gone into any one of 100 other pizzerias in New York, waited 10  minutes, and gotten something equal or better than that pizza - and not paid $30 for it. It appears the days of "Dom" touching every pizza are over. It's a sad day for pizza.
 
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    Twinwillow
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2015/12/31 11:11:40 (permalink)
    I'm amazed! " />
    #2
    leethebard
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2015/12/31 14:17:39 (permalink)
    Disgusting!!!!
    #3
    lleechef
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2015/12/31 14:49:18 (permalink)
    Wow.  It's not even cooked!
    #4
    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2015/12/31 17:19:02 (permalink)
    I'm amazed at your forbearance; that's worse than the Griswalds' arriving at Wally World, only to find it closed!
    #5
    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/01 20:15:40 (permalink)
     
    TnTinCT, this would make a great first post in a thread of "Deeply Disappointing Roadfood Pilgrimages".
     
    I've caught a few 'legends' having a bad day, but your experience "takes the cake". 
    Please accept my condolences.
     
    The closest I ever came was a dinner at Chef Tell's Restaurant in Georgetown, Grand Cayman ca. 1993.  My entre was so over-salted it was inedible.  As I was laughing about it with my GF, Chef Tell - who was much to my surprise actually there - came over to our table and, doubtless due to my GF's extreme pulchritude, actually sat down!  As was her wont, she quickly engaged him fluently in his native German.  After 15 minutes or so of yik-yak I couldn't understand but which greatly amused the Chef, I mentioned that my entre was a bit salty to my taste.  He took a bite (with my GF's fork) and the whole shebang was comped, with apology.  And he sent us out with a bottle of what turned out to be the best wine I ever tasted.  Classy guy!  
     
     
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    Foodbme
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/02 01:06:38 (permalink)
    MetroplexJim
     
    TnTinCT, this would make a great first post in a thread of "Deeply Disappointing Roadfood Pilgrimages".
     
    I've caught a few 'legends' having a bad day, but your experience "takes the cake". 
    Please accept my condolences.
     
    The closest I ever came was a dinner at Chef Tell's Restaurant in Georgetown, Grand Cayman ca. 1993.  My entre was so over-salted it was inedible.  As I was laughing about it with my GF, Chef Tell - who was much to my surprise actually there - came over to our table and, doubtless due to my GF's extreme pulchritude, actually sat down!  As was her wont, she quickly engaged him fluently in his native German.  After 15 minutes or so of yik-yak I couldn't understand but which greatly amused the Chef, I mentioned that my entre was a bit salty to my taste.  He took a bite (with my GF's fork) and the whole shebang was comped, with apology.  And he sent us out with a bottle of what turned out to be the best wine I ever tasted.  Classy guy!  

    My guess is that if your lovely GF were not with you, you would have left the place on the end of his BOOT!
     
    #7
    Michael Stern
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/02 04:19:25 (permalink)
    This is one of the sad things that sometimes happens with Roadfood restaurants. A small, wonderful, charming place gets renown. You are happy for it; the cooks deserve the recognition and the income they are getting. But if it becomes very famous, the whole experience of going there can change dramatically. It becomes a foodie tourist attraction and it no longer is the small, wonderful, charming place it was. Sometimes even the food goes downhill. How I would love a time machine to revisit De Fara's in its pre-precious days. Same for Lambert's in Missouri, Wintzell's in Mobile, Primanti's in Pittsburgh. Even the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana when there was only one of them.

    #8
    billyboy
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/02 05:16:25 (permalink)
    Wow!  I am so sorry that you and Tim had to experience such mediocrity.  When I went there with Chris & Amy almost 5 years ago, our Sicilian slices and the whole pie were both top notch.  I wish they had just closed for the day to have the private party instead of putting out low quality pizzas to the public, though I do wonder what those at the party were getting!?  Let me know the next time you'll be in the city and I'll show you a "whole pie only" place and a slice joint that'll put some big smiles on your faces!!
    #9
    TnTinCT
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/02 07:55:17 (permalink)
    Appreciate the sympathy!! @Michael Stern - you will love this. We were hanging on the sidewalk - for over an hour, and had some interesting conversations with some of the folks also waiting. Met a woman who currently lives in upstate NY that brought her granddaughter to Di Fara's. During a discussion about great food and restaurants, she asked if we had ever heard of Jane and Michael Stern, and shared a story how she had planned an entire cross-country road trip based around your books for her and her daughter years ago - it's a small Roadfood world!! Of course we shared our great experiences learning about so many of the great places you all have found on your travels, and the roadfood trips we've been on and met so many great people.
    @Metroplex Jim - I'm not sure I want to read the sadness that would be in a thread of "deeply disappointing Roadfood pilgrimages" but I'm sure we're not the only ones. At least it was just a car drive away and not a huge investment of time flying or something like that.
    @Billyboy - we will definitely plan on sharing some great pizza with you in the future. This was a last minute, "hey it's 50+ degrees at the end of December" roadtrip. From what we heard, they are doing private parties pretty frequently now, and I agree - they should focus on that and not try to continue to serve people as it obviously extends what they can do with any kind of quality.
    To everyone - all was not lost; we found a good bagel shop across the street (good - not great, a little dense but they are better than what you can get in most places in CT) at the Kosher Bagel Hole, a four block walk over on Coney Island Blvd we went to the Pickle Guys and came home with sours, half-sours, and my new favorite thing - pickled pineapple. Stopped across the street there and got some great pastrami to take home from the Essen Deli. AND - just so the eating part of the day was not a total loss, stopped at Shake Shack in Westport on the way home.
    As we like to say, it's a first-world problem, but it is sad an institution like Di Fara's has gone so far downhill - and they don't care.
     
    #10
    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/02 09:22:34 (permalink)
    Foodbme
    MetroplexJim
     
    TnTinCT, this would make a great first post in a thread of "Deeply Disappointing Roadfood Pilgrimages".
     
    I've caught a few 'legends' having a bad day, but your experience "takes the cake". 
    Please accept my condolences.
     
    The closest I ever came was a dinner at Chef Tell's Restaurant in Georgetown, Grand Cayman ca. 1993.  My entre was so over-salted it was inedible.  As I was laughing about it with my GF, Chef Tell - who was much to my surprise actually there - came over to our table and, doubtless due to my GF's extreme pulchritude, actually sat down!  As was her wont, she quickly engaged him fluently in his native German.  After 15 minutes or so of yik-yak I couldn't understand but which greatly amused the Chef, I mentioned that my entre was a bit salty to my taste.  He took a bite (with my GF's fork) and the whole shebang was comped, with apology.  And he sent us out with a bottle of what turned out to be the best wine I ever tasted.  Classy guy!  

    My guess is that if your lovely GF were not with you, you would have left the place on the end of his BOOT!
     



    I don't know about that, but he certainly wouldn't have sat down and chatted for 15 minutes.
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    Tony Bad
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/03 10:04:32 (permalink)
    TnTinCT
     
    As we like to say, it's a first-world problem, but it is sad an institution like Di Fara's has gone so far downhill - and they don't care.

     
    It stinks you had such a bad experience, but I don't think the problem is that they don't care, but that they are trying to please too many with limited resources. When you have a place that is famous for being a one man show, there is only so much you can do. Sadly, I think I will just have to hang on to my memories of what this place once was and avoid my last impression being like yours. Below is from 2007...


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    #12
    Mosca
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/03 11:34:37 (permalink)
    Michael Stern
    This is one of the sad things that sometimes happens with Roadfood restaurants.... How I would love a time machine to revisit De Fara's in its pre-precious days. Same for Lambert's in Missouri, Wintzell's in Mobile, Primanti's in Pittsburgh. Even the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana when there was only one of them.


    Primanti's in the '70s, one location: a big room with yellow walls and cafeteria tables and chairs, you sat with whoever was next to the empty seat. "#1 Seller" for years was sardine and egg. At 3AM you would see pro athletes, drunk punk rockers, truck drivers, college kids, exotic dancers, bar and restaurant workers, anyone who might be up late and in the area. And the sandwiches had flavor. Now it all seems so generic.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/03 11:39:14 (permalink)
    Sardine and egg? That sounds good. Maybe next time, instead of the pastrami and egg.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/03 12:05:31 (permalink)
    Mosca
    Primanti's in the '70s, one location: a big room with yellow walls and cafeteria tables and chairs, you sat with whoever was next to the empty seat. "#1 Seller" for years was sardine and egg. At 3AM you would see pro athletes, drunk punk rockers, truck drivers, college kids, exotic dancers, bar and restaurant workers, anyone who might be up late and in the area.

    I can just imagine Jack Lambert trying to gum a Primanti's sandwich...
     
    However, if I was to witness such an event I would not laugh.  Not even a little.  Well, maybe if I was by the door and my car was out front with the engine running so I could get away.
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2016/01/03 12:09:17
    #15
    Mosca
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/03 22:38:42 (permalink)
    I sat at a table with Bill Fralic (Pitt lineman in the 80s) once, and Sam Davis (Steelers guard in the mid 70s) once.
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    TnTinCT
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/04 15:32:23 (permalink)
    Tony Bad
     
    It stinks you had such a bad experience, but I don't think the problem is that they don't care, but that they are trying to please too many with limited resources. When you have a place that is famous for being a one man show, there is only so much you can do.




    I have to disagree somewhat; whatever the motivation is - to attempt to please everyone that shows up, or to ensure they make as much money as they can while their reputation is still somewhat good - at the end of the day, they are allowing really terrible food to be delivered to their customers, so that tells me somewhere along the line of business someone doesn't care - otherwise that pizza would have never made it out the door. Either manage what you can with the one man show, or hire and grow the business while at least attempting to maintain some level of quality. What we received was not just "not great Di Fara pizza", it was close to inedible.
    #17
    Tony Bad
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/04 17:03:02 (permalink)
    Reading back, I did not mean to minimize the fact you invested a lot of time and money into a pretty crappy experience or suggest that there are not problems. That should never happen. The whole private party thing that closes the shop with no notice is no way to run a business. As you say, what ever the reason, the customers should not be treated as you were.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/04 17:28:03 (permalink)
    Mosca
    I sat at a table with Bill Fralic (Pitt lineman in the 80s) once, and Sam Davis (Steelers guard in the mid 70s) once.

    Did they leave anything for you to eat?
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    Mosca
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/04 18:21:40 (permalink)
    Michael Hoffman
    Mosca
    I sat at a table with Bill Fralic (Pitt lineman in the 80s) once, and Sam Davis (Steelers guard in the mid 70s) once.

    Did they leave anything for you to eat?


    Sam Davis was cool. Fralic was drunk, but okay enough. He kept to the group he was with, a bunch of other Pitt guys and girls. I knew someone he was with, Rick Trocano. Trocano was QB before Dan Marino committed. We were in film class together. I think he played a couple years in the NFL as a safety.
    post edited by Mosca - 2016/01/04 19:44:01
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    bjolly25
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/06 13:53:46 (permalink)
    It is always great when a bad experience with pizza can be somewhat overcome with a lot of other great food and the fact that you return to Connecticut where we know there is a lot of GREAT pizza! (this coming from a Southern "Road Fooder" who does not have access to great pizza often.  :-)  I do have to say the 2007 pizza from there looks great!  
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    RedGold
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/28 22:26:23 (permalink)
    I remember Bill Fralic lifting manhole covers in high school.
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    mar52
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/28 22:43:00 (permalink)
    An incarnation!
     
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    pnwchef
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    Re: Di Fara's - So, so sad. 2016/01/29 10:25:55 (permalink)

    I think it’s a good day to stick up for the underdog. I always tell my little girl “ Just because your having a bad day doesn’t mean your having a bad life”.  
    From wikipedia: 
    Each pizza pie is handmade by DeMarco, so the pizzeria is closed when he is not available.[4] He "believe only one guy should make the pizza.”[5] Three of his seven children work in the back area of the restaurant.[4]
    He makes 100 to 150 pies a day, and does so by cutting fresh basil over the pies with a pair of kitchen scissors.[5][6][7] DeMarco uses imported ingredients – flour, extra-virgin olive oilSan Marzano tomatoesbuffalo mozzarella cheese from Casapulla, freshly grated grana padano (a slightly salty hard cow's milk cheese), three types of mozzarella cheese, and hand-grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese are all from Italy, and the basil and oregano are from Israel.[5][6][9][10] In a windowsill flower box, he grows thymeoregano, basil, rosemary, and hot peppers.[

     
    I think all you can do is say you had a "not so good" experience when you went there. I don’t think it means it’s going down hill. This man is 80 years old and has had this restaurant for 51 years. Mr DeMarco is an American success story. Mr DeMarco uses the best Buffalo Mozzarella in the World coming from a town just outside of Naples, Italy. He runs his business like they did back in the day. If he’s sick, the restaurant is closed. This man is just doing what he knows. Of course The world has changed around him but, that didn’t change him one bit. This man build his restaurants with heart and soul using the best quality imported ingredients. I would stop at Di Fara pizza restaurant in a heart beat. The hipsters may stand in line hoping for a slice of the best pizza in New York city. I would stand in line to have a slice of Pizza from a man who build a quality business his way. When Mr Demarco is gone there is no replacement, he is truly one of a kind. Like I said, The world changed outside the door of Di Fara’s but, I bet Mr Demarco is still one of the best, proud, caring Italian Americans you will ever meet. 
     

    post edited by pnwchef - 2016/01/29 12:14:10
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