Author Topic: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's  (Read 2064 times)

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Offline TXCraig1

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Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« on: January 04, 2012, 06:16:15 PM »
I had a couple hours to kill today, so I hopped the Q to see for myself about Di Fara. I got there about 12:15. There were just a couple people in the place when I walked in, but was pretty packed by 12:45. I ordered a plain round pie. It was ready in about 30 minutes. Iíve read reviews of the place ranging from transcendental to awful. Was it transcendental, no, but it was very good, yes. It was a little on the greasy side, but that doesnít really bother me. I normally donít like hard cheese on my tomato pies, but I wanted to try it the way he makes it, and Iím glad I did. It may have been the first such pie that I really enjoyed. It really worked with the combination of cheeses on the pie. Iím a big basil fan as you know if you read my recent gripes about Frannyís, so Domís liberal addition of the herb was much appreciated. I also like the way he cuts it up and lets the pieces sprinkle over the pie. Iím normally a baked basil fan, but on this pie it really works fresh. Iíll have to try this at the Garage. Another thing I liked is how deliberate Dom was in everything he does. Itís a far cry from some random kid who doesnít give a damn about the pies heís making.

I did notice that every square, or rather rectangle, pie that came out while I was there was black around the edges. Iím glad I ordered the round Ė though I donít see myself ever ordering a square pie if there is a round available. And, the place did get pretty smoky a couple times when grease sloshed off a pie into the oven. Part of the atmosphere, I guess Ė literally and figuratively.  I probably wonít go back, but I was not disappointed in my visit, and Iím glad I decided to go.

It so happened that Lombardiís was right on the way back to my hotel, so I stopped in for a margherita there too. Like Di Fara, it was also my first visit. This place thoughÖ all I really have to say about it is yuck. It was one of the worst pies Iíve eaten in a long time (granted I donít often put myself in a position to eat truly bad pies). But in the league of pies Iíve been eating recently, it places a solid dead last. It was dry, tough, and flat. There was not a single special thing about any of it. The crust had no flavor, and it defines bready pizza. This pizza was baked on bread Ė not pizza crust. If you told me it came out of the freezer section of the grocery store, I'd believe it. I donít know what they are thinking calling it Neapolitan pizza.

The best part of the Lombardiís visit was the two nice ladys I met. They had ordered a couple pies including a clam pie. I love a good clam pie, and wanted to taste it, but I couldnít justify ordering another pie. When I saw they had leftovers, I introduced myself and offered to buy a slice from them, and they most generously gave me a piece. Sadly it wasnít any better than the Margherita. Compared to Frannyís clam pie, it shouldnít even be called a clam pie. Again, just tough, dry, and flavorless.  (I took a couple bites before I remembered to snap a picture. They didn't give me a half eaten piece.).

Craig
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 06:19:19 PM by TXCraig1 »
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Offline chickenparm

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2012, 06:58:36 PM »
That DiFara looks spot on from the other pics and videos I have seen.The price of the calzone on the wall was  :o

The Lombardi looks like crap.Flat,dense,etc.Wonder if they even realize it?

-Bill

buceriasdon

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2012, 07:45:21 PM »
Craig, Nice write up, I enjoyed the read. I realize it's traditional to bake the basil with the pie however I, like Dom prefer a garnish of sliced basil after baking. I look forward to you trying sliced basil garnish at the garage(cue Mormon Tabernacle Choir with their rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus)
Don
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 07:47:49 PM by buceriasdon »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2012, 11:16:35 PM »
The Lombardi looks like crap.Flat,dense,etc.Wonder if they even realize it?

This was the first pie I've eaten in as long as I can remember that had absolutely no redeeming qualities. There was absolutely nothing to take away from it except perhaps a lesson on exactly what not to do in every respect. It was truly terrible.

I don't know how they could not realize it.

CL
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Offline Essen1

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2012, 11:34:24 PM »
Craig,

Nice write-up. Sounds like you had a good time albeit Lombardi's being disappointing.

But who is giving us the "Finger" in Difara pic #2??  ;D

Mike

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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2012, 11:43:00 PM »
Mike, I didn't even notice that. Too funny. I'll have to ask him if that is what he thinks of me taking pictures of all the pizzas. He was also at my house over the weekend for some pies at the Garage. I took pictures of all of them too. Maybe it is too much for him???

Craig
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Offline Essen1

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 11:48:06 PM »
Craig,

I missed it at first, too. But when I took a closer look at the crust his finger somehow stood out. It's hilarious, actually.

I have a feeling it's unintentional because he's holding a napkin...or he just sneaked it in  ;D
Mike

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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2012, 07:41:00 AM »
Craig,

Several years ago, Evelyne Slomon gave a scathing review of Lombardi's, at Reply 29 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3399.msg28955/topicseen.html#msg28955. It sounds like nothing has changed.

Peter

Offline JConk007

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2012, 07:46:22 AM »
Craig,
I know its NY but I see $32 bucks for a calzone?  wowee! how much is the round pizza theses days at Difara $25 ish  A slight margin there for sure even with the extra basil  ;)
John
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Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2012, 09:59:01 AM »
Craig, nice write-up.

If you do ever make it back to DiFara, make sure to order the square (either a piece or a whole square pie)....IMO it's the better of the two pizzas and on a good day a benchmark square pizza. The nearly absurd amount of olive oil used makes for a unique crust. The sound of it sizzling and crackling in the pan as DeMarco cuts the basil over the pie immediately post bake is fun. The blackened edges are not too bitter and the texture it adds is nice. The square at Artichoke Basille's on 14th in Manhattan right off of the L train is very similar.

I've only been to Lombardi's on three occasions and while I have never been a huge fan (I place it at the bottom of the "Big 5" coal oven NY-Neapolitan joints), the pizza you posted here does not look remotely like the last pizza I had there in September of 2010. From the dense, bready looking crust to the way the cheese looks (browning) and its placement, I'm stunned it's even from the same place as the last pie I had. That pizza looks like dog crap.

Lombardi's has been basically run into the ground by current ownership. But when droves of tourists lured by the hyperbole of "America's First Pizza", hotel and tour recommendations and Zagat, etc related nonsense, I guess there is no need to change much from a financial standpoint.

A real shame. As what is likely America's first licensed pizzeria, that place should be all heart....a literal hearbeat of America tracing back over the decades. Then again that heartbeat died when the original oven in the original Lombardi's space down the street was sealed up years ago. Totonno's is where the tradition of the original NY-Neapolitan places lives on.

Sorry for the rambling, but seeing that hockey puck of horse manure being served out of such a venerated pizza institution is very upsetting.--K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell


Offline sum1else

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2012, 11:50:28 AM »
Craig, that Lombardi's pie looks horrendous. Sorry you had to pay for that. I've only been there twice, both visits about 5 years ago, and it was great. It did not look like the gross pie that you were served. I don't think I can go there again after looking at your photos.

I do like Di Fara's pizza, but it definitely is not transcendental as you say. It's not worth the subway ride for me, and I'd only eat it if I was in the area. But it is an experience, and watching Dom is enjoyable to me. It's rare to see an old school New Yorker still making pizza with his family running the store.

I have to agree with Pizzablogger about the square pie. I think it is much much better than the round. Although the crust is burnt, it still tastes good. I don't know if I would ever order the round at Di Fara again. I haven't tried Artichoke's square, but it does look similar as Pizzablogger points out. The most similar round pie that I've found is Lucali, which is my current obsession (and planned dinner this evening)--same style as Di Fara but better execution.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2012, 01:12:26 PM »
Craig,
I know its NY but I see $32 bucks for a calzone?  wowee! how much is the round pizza theses days at Difara $25 ish  A slight margin there for sure even with the extra basil  ;)
John

Yes. $25.
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Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2012, 03:13:54 PM »
The calzone at DiFara is huge. --K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Lunch Today: Di Fara and Lombardi's
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2012, 01:13:11 PM »
Not that anyone needs any additional confirmation of it but Lombardi's really is that weak. I know some of these places have historical significance but that only goes so far (for me). It's amongst the most one dimensional pizzas I've ever had.

As far as Di Fara, I have an new theory about doneness levels there (or overdone as may be the case). I go to Di Fara every now (averaging a few times a year) and again for the novelty and a reality check on the pizza and place. I hate lines so I tend to get there at opening. My lady and I get slices as we aren't huge eaters. Our slices are fresh out of the oven, not re-heated. However, I have begun to wonder if the pies that are being baked for slices upon opening aren't more likely to be overdone. I have consistently seen more overdone stuff coming out, but I wonder if in the middle of service if the pies begin to get cooked a little bit less (in a good way). Part of the reason I began to think about this is because I'd ideally like to account (to some degree) for the drastically different experiences people can have at Di Fara -- that go beyond personal taste.

There are many things I really like about Di Fara taste wise, I wish mostly that they would dial the oil down (it would still be oily) both in and on the dough. I wish the square was less dense. Love the sauces, cheese and basil though. Those def work for me!


 

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