Sunday, July 19, 2009

Di Fara's

I have mixed feelings about Di Fara's and have put off writing about it for a while. It's considered an excellent (if not the premier) pizzeria in NYC. I went over a year ago, days before hopping on a plane to Naples, and didn't think it was worth the hype. I decided to go for a second time and realized that maybe my flavor centric approach towards reviewing isn't always the best way to judge a pizzeria.
We took a shaky train through the green foliage and street graffiti of Brooklyn, stepped out into the summer humidity and found ourselves at the end of an hour long wait. We waited. An hour turned into an hour and twenty minutes. I killed time by skimming the articles written about Di Fara's that lined the wall. There were too many to count and they all seemed to say pretty much the same thing: best. pizzeria. ever.
Dom Demarco, Di Fara's owner and master pizzaiolo, is an elderly man with a slight hunch whose gaze rarely rises above his work to the gawking crowd around him (that included my flashing camera, btw). Whether it's scizzoring fresh basil over bubbling cheese or sticking his ungloved hands deep into the heat of the oven Demarco makes his pies with the confidence of a sleepwalker. He performs every task as if its an extension of himself, as if rotating a pie is as natural to him as biting into an apple.

video

That might explain why so many of the reviews the adorn the walls in Di fara's are less about the pizza and more about the man behind the pizza. I thought of this as I watched the crowds hungrily watch Demarco make his pies. There seemed to be more fervor for the immediancy of the moment ("we're here! we're actually at di fara's!") and less for the pies, which, for the record were good, though Demarco uses enough olive oil to drown an entire neapolitan family. This has gotten me thinking; what is it about a particular pizzeria or restuarant that gets most of us excited? Is it the food itself or some sort of personalizing quality behind the food -something that makes us less aware of the food and more aware of the moment in which we experience the food?




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