Restaurants & Bars

mainstays

JT | Dec 16, 2003 06:44 AM

so, off the reams of positive, descriptive reviews on this board, I did the DiFara's/Mina daily double on Saturday with a visiting Aunt...

a first time visitor to both venues, I was excited going into the day and finished with mostly positive feelings about what I experienced and am thankful for those that have touted both these unique places...

to watch Dom hunched over a ball of dough with a smile on his face is a sight to be seen...it appears as if he's at peace making pizzas despite the chaotic hustle and bustle coming in and out of his shop...

there's little order or protocol for the patrons, and I guess the more you go, the more you learn about how best to expedite what could be a long wait period...

but why hurry if you don't have to...to watch this man do his thing really is as fun as has been described by so many here...a pie of squares burned as Dom got sidetracked by a rush of telephone orders and he informed my Aunt that a new pie of squares would take a while...we had regular slices in the meantime, one with roasted peppers...

customers tired of waiting left in a huff...but those who waited (including a large party seated at the big table in the back and a postal carrier who knew the routine) were rewarded with what really is a very special slice of pizza...the three elements: crust, sauce and cheese all perfect...

a young man worked the back kitchen, preparing the dough I suppose...he also made the pasta dishes...but it seemed like it was the old man Dom, working his tail off without a moment to rest...and with a grin the whole time...

you really wonder how he still has some much zeal for making pies?

Mina didn't have the same feel. The restaurant's namesake never emerged from the kitchen. But you could see her through the open window between the kitchen and dining room. The chicken makhni was a creamy, spicy treat. Mediocre marks for the vegetable roll and veggie biriyani. A dirty tablecloth (in fact, all of them were soiled) was a bit of a bummer, but not enough to dampen an interesting dinner. One of the servers at Mina indicated that despite the low Saturday night turnout in-house, the takeout business was helping the bottom line.

Don't expect a warm and fuzzy decor at either place. Instead, you've got a couple of chowhound favorites being touted for their unique style and hard-working onwers. Eating at places like these can be rewarding because of the connection you feel when you walk in and out of the door.

I'd rush back to DiFara's and would bring a group for that back table. Mina won't have the same urgency, but I'd give it another shot.

But again, much gratitude for those that discovered these joints.

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