Hello, Di Fara. It’s been a while…

Two Di Fara Pizza slices
Two plain slices awaiting their eaters.

“Hello, Di Fara,” is a greeting that is indelibly burned into my mind, spoken in Dom DeMarco’s Italian-accented English. It’s the telephone greeting I’ve heard Dom utter countless times over the years while waiting for pies in his beloved Brooklyn pizzeria.

It’s also the line I muttered to myself as I walked through the door there recently because it certainly had been a while.

I rarely go to Di Fara these days—usually only when someone implores me to guide them through their first visit there. My thoughts are that it’s a lovely place, one that holds a lot of fond memories and serves great pizza, but jockeying for a pie or slice is an arduous task.

After a recent visit in February, though, I saw they’d streamlined some things, and the process of getting a slice was easier than any time I can recall.

Di Fara notepad
It’s a bit cryptic at first, but then you see the logic. Triangles are regular slices; rectangles are Sicilian squares.

They’ve got an orderly system for ordering, with a line and a notepad, the notepad filled with a charming shorthand where triangles stand in for regular slices and rectangles represent squares.

Di Fara crowd, 2005
The crowd presses in. Photographed May 1, 2005, during the heyday of Slice.

It’s a far cry from the old days, when pizza-craving hordes crowded the counter 2- and 3-deep trying to get Dom’s attention and get in their requests.

In fact, on the Saturday I rolled up at Di Fara, they opened the gate at 11:46am, I had ordered not more than 5 minutes later, and had my slices by 11:55.

If the new Di Fara procedure is this swift and easy all the time, I’d be there more often.

It made me think of one of the most popular posts I wrote for Slice(the pizza blog I founded in 2003 and then sold to Serious Eats when I signed on as SE’s founding editor): “All You Need to Know About Di Fara, 2009

So many things have changed in the 9 years since I wrote that post:

  • Di Fara is now on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and, for a little while, was even taking orders via Facebook Messenger (though I don’t think that’s the case any longer)
  • They’re on UberEats
  • They do private-party buyouts
  • They’ve opened a dessert spot around the corner and a companion restaurant where you can get the non-pizza dishes they stopped making in the pizzeria when the place blew up in the mid-2000s

I could keep adding to this list, but I’m going to drop out of list form to note some of the bigger changes:

Dom has stopped taking your order. Now someone else jots down orders on the notepad and finishes pizzas with basil after Dom pulls them from the oven barehanded (that painful looking maneuver hasn’t changed).

He doesn’t appear to be using fresh mozzarella on the pizzas anymore—though cheese combo has always seemed a fluid thing at Di Fara, so it might have been this one time. (A good excuse to revisit the place soon.)

On that note, we didn’t see him hit the pies with a post oven fistful of freshly grated grana padano. His old-school counter-mounted rotary cheese grinder broke some years ago and he was unable to find a replacement. Word is that he’s now using a preground blend of Parmigiano and Romano.

If the flavor profile had changed a ton from previous times, my taste-memory had failed me. It still tasted like “Di Fara” to me. But that goes to show how nebulous memory can be.

One of these weekends soon, I need to bring Miss Margot to eat Di Fara with me, so she can form some memories of her own there. Dom isn’t getting any younger, after all. Nor are any of us.

Di Fara Pizza: 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY 11230; 718-258-1367