Let me just start by saying that Debbie is the true pizza connoisseur in this relationship—the pizzafficionado, if you will—but after nearly three years of sharing slices together, I've grown to appreciate the genre more than I ever thought possible (way too many 1:00am monster wedges at Koronet on Broadway and 111th had me convinced that pizza was about fuel, not flavor). Anyway, last Saturday we finally made it out to Brooklyn's legendary Di Fara Pizza, and were truly amazed that it actually lived up to its hype. Yes, there are some things that you should consider before jumping on the Q train—the potential for an unbelievably long wait, for one—but I must say that, on taste alone, Di Fara's is the best slice in town.
Honestly, we've never had pizza that tasted this fresh. Each of the ingredients—the tomato sauce (made from fresh and canned), the creamy mozzarella (imported from Italy), the nutty parmesan (or maybe a close relative), the basil (whole leaves), the olive oil (poured liberally on top, both before and after baking), the crust (full-flavored and burnt to a beautiful crisp)—held their own against each other, in exquisite, perfect balance. Put a pile of melty, oily porcini mushrooms on top and—really?—I had no clue pizza could be this good. (Put artichokes on top and the result is less transcendent, but still pretty freaking tasty). In fact, the intensity of perfectionism at Di Fara is kind of insane. Owner Dom DeMarco is the only one who's ever allowed to touch the pizza. No prep cooking is done: DeMarco carves the mozzarella fresh for each pie... he grates the parmesan... he pulls the individual basil leaves from the branch, for crying out loud! An enormous amount of love goes into these pies, each and every time, and it shows.
The downside to the Di Fara routine: excruciating waits. We got extremely lucky with our slices—Debbie stood at the counter for maybe 10 minutes for our second round, which is lightning fast here, considering I talked to some folks who had been waiting an hour and a half for their pies! The other downside: because it's so crowded, and it's only DeMarco and his daughter (?) working, the grease and grime level is high... yes, even after the much-publicized Department of Health shutdown a few weeks back, which resulted in the freshly-painted green walls you see below. The tables are never cleaned, there's trash all over the floor, and it's definitely best to not even look at the kitchen. So the squeamish and the impatient should probably not bother with the 20 minute ride on the Q from Union Square (the restaurant is a block away from the Avenue J stop).
That said, if you like pizza—and, especially, if you love pizza, as my gorgeous girlfriend does—then you owe it to yourself to make the pilgrimage.