I don’t eat much pizza. But when friends mentioned a DiFara outing they were planning, I glommed on immediately, invited myself, and also offered up my husband, who generally claims not to like pizza, to drive us out to Avenue J. Given all the discussion about the line (or lack thereof) etc., I wanted to take the opportunity to go with someone who’d been before. So, last night around 5pm the five of us met up, and drove to Brooklyn. We arrived just after 6pm, parked, and went in, armed with a bag of bottles of wine and an opener, and some hand wipes usually reserved for dog that I’d grabbed on the way out. We’d discussed our order in the car – one plain pie, one round with artichoke hearts, and one square pepperoni. When we entered, we saw a hand written sign on the door, which stated that “due to an injury” the pies might take longer than usual, and to please be patient. Our DiFara “expert” went to the counter, where six or seven people were milling about, and ordered.
Meanwhile, we spied an empty small round table in a back corner, and some in our group went to claim it, and add chairs, and eventually a small square table. While my husband opened the wine, I popped across the street for some plastic cups. Glass of wine in hand, I then joined my friend, our expert, at the counter to watch Mr. DeMarco at work, as I did, off and on, for the next hour and a half. What a joy. It was like watching a ballet in slow motion, as he gracefully, slowly, moved from stretching out the dough to adding the ingredients, sliding pies in and out of the oven, reaching here and there for more ingredients, grating the cheese, drizzling the olive oil, snipping the basil, and then, finally, gloriously, presenting a pie.
My friend suggested that we offer Mr. DeMarco a glass of wine, so I went up to the counter and asked his daughter if he might like a glass. She said that it might help stave off the pain of his broken ribs, and he then accepted it, even though I told him it was French and not Italian, and certainly not an Amarone. Upon a return visit to the counter, he told me that the French and the Italians make the best wines, and that this one was nice and dry. At that point, I had a chat with a woman who’d been waiting since we had arrived. She told me that she comes every Tuesday on her way home from work to get a pizza for her 29 year old son, and has been doing so for 4 years. This led to a lovely conversation about families, and what we do for the ones we love. Seemingly quickly, we got our plain round (maybe it had been intended for slices?). I almost don’t have words to describe this pizza, or the ones that ensued. It truly was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The crust, the char, the melding of cheese and tomato and olive oil and herbs. Glorious.
We ate, we drank, we watched. Then the artichoke pie came out. The melted former mounds of mozzarella, the olive oil, the beautiful artichoke hearts … more heaven. We reinforced our supply of paper plates and napkins. By this point, most of us had clothing that was adorned with splatters of tomato, oil and cheese. The handy wipes did, in fact, become handy. More wine, then the words “pepperoni square” rang out, and we retrieved it. We’ve moved from the plain round, to a round with topping, to a square with topping. Different, chewier, but just as truly wonderful. More crust, more cheese, some of the best pepperoni I’ve ever had. More sighs of happiness. By 8pm or so, it became time to leave – two bottles of wine gone, our table littered with napkins and plates. We organized once again as we had upon our arrival – trash in the trash bin, wine bottles in the “recycling” area in the window, leftover pizza divided and carefully placed on top of layers of foil and wax paper into the small boxes, $75 bill paid, the unopened third bottle of the wine given to Mr. DeMarco, we walk out the door, smiles all around.
I think I’m in love – not just with the pizza, but with the place. We had a joyful, relaxed experience – wine, food, friends, in the presence of one who clearly loves the same.
Edit: I realized, while writing this, how rude it was of me not to offer Mr. DeMarco's daughter a glass of wine as well. Hope to correct that next time.