It was only a matter of time before the Department of Health shuttered the doors of Di Fara. I noted the disgusting conditions a few weeks ago when I had the unfortunate opportunity of seeing what goes on behind the counter. If you’re unfamiliar with Di Fara, it’s often hailed as having the city’s best pizza, and made by the legendary Dom DeMarco.
For similar reasons (inadequate personal cleanliness, evidence of mice, filth flies, dirty kitchen, etc.) they were also closed in 2007. Di Fara responded on Facebook by stating that the closure was due to “personal matters” and there was a glitch in the “paperwork bureaucracy” of the DOH’s grading system. It’s incredibly entertaining to see how devoted and willfully ignorant the fans are.
And yes, I told you so.
Di Fara (site) ★★★☆☆
1424 Ave J
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Elegant Italian dining on a budget may seem counter-intuitive, especially at a place owned by superstar chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria is Batali’s most casual (read: cheapest) restaurant, and is intended to capture the essence of a bustling train station, rather than a highbrow dining establishment. Despite the boycott inspired by Batali’s recent blunder comparing bankers to Hitler and Stalin, Otto was filled with clumsy tourists and lively families during lunch.
Continuing my weekend of Brooklyn adventuring, I met up with some friends to try the legendary pizza of Domenico DeMarco, better known as the proprietor of Di Fara. Dom started his Midwood pizzeria almost 50 years ago with no expectation of receiving the fame of what is reputed to be NY’s best pizza. Despite his age, he still does the bulk of the pizza-making, with his children playing a supporting role. Di Fara attracts hungry customers from all around the country, so expect a long wait.
The New York Times’ blog reports that Ray’s Pizza, will be closing for good this weekend. I don’t mean the chain pizzeria that falsely brands itself as the Original Ray’s (I wish they would close instead). This Ray’s on 27 Prince Street, right in the heart of Little Italy, is the actual original pizzeria. Of course, authenticity means nothing unless the pizza is good. I reviewed them a few weeks ago and had a fantastic slice. The Times sat down with Helen Mistretta, the 79-year old owner and cousin of founder Ralph Cuomo, who cited high rent as a reason for being unable to continue running the business. It’s a shame since their pizza is so much better than the imposter’s. This will most likely be your last opportunity to try a slice of the real Ray’s Pizza, so be sure to grab a slice before it’s gone forever this weekend. There are usually no lines, but I suspect that loyal fans like myself will be there to say goodbye.
Ray’s Pizza ★★★★★
27 Prince St (between Elizabeth St & Mott St) map
New York, NY 10012
Neighborhood: Little Italy
I was hesitant to try Ray’s, mainly because I assumed it was another pizzeria coasting off the fame associated with the brand. This Ray’s was different, and what immediately tipped me off was the fact that they weren’t advertising themselves as being the “REAL, Original Ray’s SINCE 1900!”
Such high ratings for a place that simply calls itself “Pizza?” I had to investigate. The plain slice was highly recommended by Yelpers, and it also happens to be the best test of quality. For only $2, this was a cheap experiment. I talked to the owner, who boasted about how brilliant his food is, crediting it to the expensive cheese he purchases.