I live in Pennsylvania but get into the city fairly often. I was meeting some friends in Manhattan yesterday and based on the tip I read here that Saturday afternoon is a good time to visit DiFara's, we decided to make the trek into Brooklyn. I was dreading the drive and parking but it couldn't have been easier. Within 10 minutes of the Battery tunnel we were parked right next to DiFara's.
More good news when we walked in, there was only one other customer in the place. We ordered immediately, one plain pie and one sausage pie. We wanted artichoke on half of the plain, but Dom told us that the artichokes this week were no good (?). As we waited my friend was being rather obnoxious with his camera taking pictures of Dom stretching the dough, Dom taking a pie out of the oven, etc. Dom was gracious despite my friend being a pest.
The place filled up rather quickly. We were lucky to get there when we did. As we waited Dom took a square pie out of the oven for slices so we got a few. Rather homely looking, they were a crispy, gooey, cheesy wonder. I'm not a big fan of square pies but this was unbelievable.
Our sausage pie came out first. Incredibly thin and crisp crust. Incredibly good sausage. The cheese totally different from the square pie, an amazing blend of flavors. I think it was Leff who said this place is all about the cheese, that's about 90% right. This morning I had a cold slice and if anything that accentuates the cheesiness of this pizza. I wish I had carried out an extra pie or two. It is a cheese experience that ranks up there with the best hunk-of-cheese-and-loaf-of-bread meal I've had in Europe. Finally the sauce is a fresh, wonderful, fresh, lightly tomato-y, fresh counterpoint. Kind of like the bass player in a jazz trio. The occasional leaf of fresh basil plays a delightful cameo. The cheese pie came out just as we needed it, another masterpiece of cheesy delight. Dom gave us an extra portion of parmesan for us to sprinkle over it; it's amazingly good by itself.
I hate to re-shuffle my list of all-time best pizzas after only one visit but this place is a *serious* contender for top honor. As my lifetime #1 no longer exists (the legendary Luigi's pizzeria in Summit NJ) it's unfortunately not possible to do a current comparison. I do however think further research at DiFara's is warranted.
A few interesting observations. Dom has the gentlest pizza-stretching motion I've ever seen. Most pizza makers pound the dough with their fingers, slap it with their palms, pummel it with their fists. Not Dom, a few easy clockwise revolutions (every other pizza-maker goes counterclockwise) over his fists and it's done. I've also never seen a pizzeria where the cheese is sliced and grated as it's needed. No pre-shredded mozzarella here. Dom let us use his restroom next to the stove, I saw a big pot of sauce bubbling with obvious hunks of meat (pig's knuckles?) bobbing away. So I guess the place isn't vegan-friendly, not that that's important to me. The plants in the front window were a nice touch, but I wonder if they can supply all the basil that he uses?
Although it may sound crazy to drive from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn for "just a pizza", I have a feeling this won't be my last visit to DiFaras.
Sorry to have taken so many words to echo all the conventional wisdom on this board. I was expecting something of a let-down, after all how could any place live up to all the hype? Yet DiFara's is a pizza lover's dream come true. I'll be back.