Last weekend my brother was in town with his car, so of course I wanted to show him some of New York’s finest pizza’s, but I also wanted to catch a ride to a pizzeria that is otherwise a pain to get to by subway. We chose Di Fara Pizza at 1424 Avenue J here in Brooklyn, which has topped a good number of pizza rankings in the last several years, as anyone who’s seen their walls of collected magazine and paper articles can attest.
The critical thing to remember about this place is that it’s a little pizzeria that suddenly got big press coverage starting sometime in the last ten years or so, despite having been around for closer to forty. This had significant impact on our pizza eating experience, as I’ll explain below.
The Pizza: 8
If I’m not mistaken, this is one of the few top pizzerias in the city that doesn’t use a brick oven to make its pies. Trust me when I say that this is in no way a bad thing. The pizza was delicious and perhaps the best part is that you can see the chef, who’s been making pies here for decades, ply his craft. Every ingredient and topping is sliced fresh right in front of you, and added with care before the pie gets put in the oven. The result is a pie with a delicious thin layer of mozzarella baked evenly over hand-made sauce with a slight drizzling of olive oil and topped with a flavorful and aesthetically pleasing portion of basil. The one thing that detracted from this pizza slightly is actually the exact same problem that Lombardi’s pizza had: the crust was soggy in the middle despite being thin and expertly charred everywhere else. As before, I’m forced to dock a point from an otherwise incredible pie.
The Toppings: 7
The toppings were tasty and we could see that they were fresh, as they were added literally right in front of us, but they weren’t as ubiquitous as many that I’ve had recently, and just aren’t particularly transcendent enough to get past simply being “very good” in my book. Really nothing special if you’ve had some of the city’s top pies before.
I regret this, but the truth is that Di Fara Pizza is another instance of an excellent pizza marred by a frustrating eating experience. As I said earlier, the chef makes each pie fresh, right in front of you, which is great. The downside is, he makes everyone else’s pies fresh right in front of you too, and the novelty wears off quickly when you’ve got a dozen orders ahead of yours. The fact that the pizza oven itself can only hold 2 pies at a time doesn’t help move things along either. We went at lunch time, about 1pm, and all told, we waited about a half hour in the congested line that was jutting out the door when we got there, with a backpack on, and perhaps another half hour after that to get our pie.
I’d been warned by several pizza critics that it might take a while to get the food at Di Fara, and that they don’t necessarily serve the pies in the order you arrived, but even knowing this, the reality is frustrating and tedious. The place is small and cramped, your standard hole-in-the-wall with seating for maybe 15 people at a stretch, which ordinarily would be okay for a pizzeria if you didn’t have to spend an hour there waiting before you even get your food. This singular annoyance detracted considerably from the experience.
The Bottom Line
Don’t go out of your way. The pizza is good, yes, but the location is remote to most NYC commuters unless you have a car, and even if you can get there easily, you may be having second thoughts after the long wait for your food. I think that if you arrive on a really off-time, like 11:30 in the morning or something, you might not have to wait, but even a few orders ahead of you can back up the entire line by maybe 10 minutes a piece, so budget your time accordingly.