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Offline Pete-zza

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New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« on: July 31, 2009, 10:15:53 AM »
From the New York Times online, at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/nyregion/31pizza.html?_r=1&em.

July 31, 2009
Straight Out of Brooklyn, the $5 Slice
By MANNY FERNANDEZ

On Avenue J in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, a small cup of coffee costs $1.39. An 18-stick package of gum is $1.49. And at Di Fara Pizza, the price of a plain cheese slice: $5.

Crowds form at the counter at Di Fara and spill onto the sidewalk. They are not an angry mob, but a hungry one. Some order two slices, for $10, and some, like Frank Mancino, a retired electrician from Bath Beach, Brooklyn, whose girth is a statement about his allegiance to pizza in general and Di Fara in particular, order a whole square pie, for $30.

“Worth it,” said Mr. Mancino, 64, between bites on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s like they dug up my grandma and she made the pie.”

Di Fara, one of the most acclaimed and sought-after pizza shops in New York City, now sells one of the most expensive — and still-sought-after — slices in New York City, on a no-frills Brooklyn block next door to, of all places, a 99-cent store. The price of a slice increased to $5 on July 1, up from $4, the cost for the past year and a half. Just about everything else went up as well: Plain round pies are $25 and specialty square pies are $35.

There are those who have called Di Fara and left nasty messages on the answering machine, and there are those who have made a special trip to Midwood in recent days to find out what a $5 slice tastes like.

And yet, the owner, Domenico DeMarco, 72, a founder, remains undisturbed by the commotion, cutting fresh basil over bubbling pies with a pair of kitchen scissors.

“I use the top ingredients,” said Mr. DeMarco, whose accent still echoes Provincia di Caserta in Italy, where he is from; it is an ethos that adds to the Di Fara mystique, and perhaps to its prices. “Other pizzerias, I don’t think they use the top.”

The price of a slice has long been one of the city’s unofficial economic indicators, and the increase at Di Fara has led to intense analysis among New Yorkers about what, exactly, it indicates: a deepening recession, an easing of the recession, rising inflation, savvy marketing, price gouging, or commodity prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange? Or, simply, Mr. DeMarco — a bespectacled maverick of the New York pizza world, who insists on making every pie himself — being Mr. DeMarco.

Even Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined the debate, though he was careful not to say whether he was for or against a $5 slice. “The real question, relative to the local economy, is whether people are trading up from a $2.75 slice or down from a $25 entree,” the mayor said in reply to a question on Thursday. “And from what I hear in the subways and on the streets, it’s probably a mixture of both. But if you’ve ever had a really great slice of pizza, you know there are worse deals.”

And there is an underlying concern about a ripple effect. Other pizzerias “might follow suit,” said Adam Kuban, 35, the founder of Slice, a pizza-focused blog that reported the new price. “Some people might think, ‘Mine is at $2.50 or $2.75, maybe I can raise it to $3.’ ”

Behind the counters at a number of city pizzerias, the $5 Di Fara slice has sparked some grumbling. “I don’t agree with it,” said Francesco Taormina, 42, manager at Rizzo’s Fine Pizza in Astoria, Queens, where a plain slice costs $2.50. “I couldn’t possibly think of any slice that could cost that much.”

Of course, Mr. DeMarco believes his pizza is worth the money, and many of his customers believe so as well, arguing that in a city where rents, tolls and subway fares keep climbing, paying more for what many consider the best pizza in New York is entirely reasonable.

Mr. DeMarco uses imported ingredients. The flour, extra-virgin olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are all brought from Italy, and the basil is from Israel.

The only person who makes a Di Fara pie is Mr. DeMarco, because, in his words, “I believe only one guy should make the pizza.” When Mr. DeMarco is not available to make the pizza, Di Fara shuts its doors, as it did for several weeks in January while Mr. DeMarco recovered from a car accident.

A $5 Di Fara slice is thin and crispy, the dough a few seconds shy of burnt, topped with a tangy, subtle sauce, served on a paper plate, over a sheet of wax paper, in an overheated 44-year-old pizzeria with a worn floor, a drippy air-conditioner and a handwritten sign reading, “Bathroom is out of order.”

On Wednesday, Chris Alese, 28, an off-duty police officer, waited an hour and 20 minutes, paying $61 for two pies and four drinks for his group. “It’s unbelievable,” Mr. Alese said, referring to the taste. “You’re going to pay for quality.”

Murat Ugur, 23, was not as impressed. “So-so,” he said Thursday, biting into a slice. “A little oily.”

Margaret Mieles, Mr. DeMarco’s daughter and Di Fara’s manager, said a number of factors went into the decision to raise prices. The shop has always used expensive imported ingredients, but in the past six months Mr. DeMarco has been more generous with them, part of what she called his new “heavy hand.” As a result, she said, more supplies are being ordered more often.

The increase in the city’s sales tax was another reason Di Fara raised its prices, Mrs. Mieles said, since the tax is included in the price. (The tax rate goes up half a percentage point on Saturday.) She denied speculation that the price increase was to make up for a recent reduction in the pizzeria’s hours of operation. It used to be closed on Mondays, but is now also closed Tuesdays. Her father wanted — and needed — the rest, she said.

Those hoping the new prices are temporary, like those hoping the wait for a slice will get shorter, will be disappointed.

“We will never, ever lower the price,” Mrs. Mieles said. “It can only go up. It can never come down.”

Bobby Allyn contributed reporting.


Peter







Offline Jose L. Piedra

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 01:32:28 PM »
“We will never, ever lower the price,” Mrs. Mieles said. “It can only go up. It can never come down.”

Well, why not. Experience has shown that once what was a mere staple comes to be perceived as artisanal/high-end and fashionable, it passes from a staple to a luxury item in the public consciousness and can be plausibly priced as such, i.e. far in excess of what it could be as a staple. Look at what happened with cigars in the '90s. If I owned that place, I'd make the slice somewhat larger and try charging $10.00 for it.

-JLP
Scarsu d'ogghiu, e riccu di provolazzu ::)

Offline pcampbell

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 02:48:37 PM »
Thanks for the link article.  I love reading this stuff.  I really need to get there.

I see $1 slices on the street still.   And I think he is right about the quality.

I would not mind seeing them handle other things a little better though.  Bathroom out of order in a restaurant?   :-X
Patrick

Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2009, 03:27:36 PM »
Price? Whatever the market will bare.
Let them eat pizza.

Offline mmarston

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2009, 12:37:54 PM »
Thanks for the link article.  I love reading this stuff.  I really need to get there.

I see $1 slices on the street still.   And I think he is right about the quality.

I would not mind seeing them handle other things a little better though.  Bathroom out of order in a restaurant?   :-X

In most NYC pizza shops you would be lucky to find a bathroom.
Nobody cares if you can't dance well.  Just get up and dance.  Dave Barry

Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2009, 10:53:03 PM »
In most NYC pizza shops you would be lucky to find a bathroom.

Just as I suspected ... it's not the water!  ;) ;D :-D
Let them eat pizza.

Offline Pizza Jones

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2010, 02:57:24 PM »
I made my first foray to Di Fara's a few weeks ago.  We waited about an hour on a Saturday night.  Had the pepperoni for about $28.  It was well worth the wait- and the price.

Though the crust was a little wimpy - and saturated with olive oil mmm - the sauce and cheese were fantastic.

You can really taste the quality and the difference it makes compared to other local joints.

I've been on a pizza hunt the last few months, including Joe's, Artichoke, Ray's, and lots more.  Di Fara's leads the pack, by quite a bit. 

Offline pcampbell

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2010, 03:38:58 PM »
curious...is bufala mozzarella  part of that price or is that an extra thing?
« Last Edit: April 11, 2010, 03:41:08 PM by pcampbell »
Patrick

Offline PizzaVera

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2010, 03:24:17 AM »
well they should charge a premium for the pizza. I mean the man is a legend in NYC why should he be charging the same price as everyone else.. do you think AL PACINO charges the same price for his services as a no name actor? of course not..

DI FARA and the family know that the place will die with the old man! so its best to get as much money as they can now before the old man passes away.. because once he is gone the shop will be closed...
5 dollars is not that expensive anyway.. jeezzz I mean a bigmac or a latte grande costs almost that...
the 5 bucks you pay at DI FARA'S ,  you get to see the old man make the pizza for you.. you can talk to you him if you want..
and see the legendary place.. beats ordering a drink in the meat packer district for 10 bucks!
VIVA DI FARA~!!!

Offline hotsawce

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2010, 03:09:18 PM »
It's well established that everything in a Di Fara pie is of mediocre quality....particularly the crust.

You sound like a kid....5 bucks is a ton for a slice....the premium on alcohol beverages is completely different.

well they should charge a premium for the pizza. I mean the man is a legend in NYC why should he be charging the same price as everyone else.. do you think AL PACINO charges the same price for his services as a no name actor? of course not..

DI FARA and the family know that the place will die with the old man! so its best to get as much money as they can now before the old man passes away.. because once he is gone the shop will be closed...
5 dollars is not that expensive anyway.. jeezzz I mean a bigmac or a latte grande costs almost that...
the 5 bucks you pay at DI FARA'S ,  you get to see the old man make the pizza for you.. you can talk to you him if you want..
and see the legendary place.. beats ordering a drink in the meat packer district for 10 bucks!
VIVA DI FARA~!!!
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 03:11:18 PM by hotsawce »


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2010, 03:19:32 PM »
It's well established that everything in a Di Fara pie is of mediocre quality....particularly the crust.


hotsawce,

I spent a lot of time researching the DiFara pizzas and I would say that Dom DeMarco used very high quality ingredients, among the best available, including the flours used to make the dough (All Trumps and Caputo 00 at the time I did my research). The only negative I could find was the short fermentation time for the dough, only a few hours. I discussed his dough, cheeses, tomatoes, toppings, etc. at Reply 122 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11222/topicseen.html#msg11222. No doubt things have changed since that post but I don't believe Domenic has cheapened his product by using ingredients of mediocre quality.

Peter

Online scott123

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2010, 06:40:09 PM »
Top shelf toppings aside, I think it is well established that Difara's short fermentation time produces a pie with a mediocre crust, and, for those of us who think the crust is the most important aspect of a pizza (99% of us?), that translates into a mediocre product.

Difara's is the ideal destination for the tourist looking for the 'Brooklyn' experience.  As far as local color goes, DeMarco is the quintessential/archetypal  Brooklynite.  Your typical tourist wouldn't know good pizza if it bit them in the butt, so they're not going to notice the underfermented crust. They're just going to be wowed by the theatricality of it all. It's far more style than substance.

If you're not a tourist, though, and you do appreciate a flavorful crust, DiFara's is just lipstick on a pig.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 06:46:43 PM by scott123 »

Offline hotsawce

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2010, 01:55:22 PM »
I guess it's debatable. The Grande "Fresh mozz," which really isn't all that fresh, doesn't really qualify in my opinion. He uses the standard Berio olive oil....and even his hard cheeses range in consistency and appearance. Sometimes grana, sometimes parm, and on top of it you never know if you're going to get a properly cooked pie.

The best ingredients, for me, would be a very fresh house made mozz, a higher quality evoo, consistency in the hard cheeses, etc.

It's just all over the place for me.

 Anyway, Scott, I agree with you. I find Di Fara to be the prime example of lipstick on a pig, and I never understood why they were trumpeted as amazing, and often perfect pizza. The only thing I can say I liked was the squares, and I think that could be done better easily (my next project ;D )


hotsawce,

I spent a lot of time researching the DiFara pizzas and I would say that Dom DeMarco used very high quality ingredients, among the best available, including the flours used to make the dough (All Trumps and Caputo 00 at the time I did my research). The only negative I could find was the short fermentation time for the dough, only a few hours. I discussed his dough, cheeses, tomatoes, toppings, etc. at Reply 122 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11222/topicseen.html#msg11222. No doubt things have changed since that post but I don't believe Domenic has cheapened his product by using ingredients of mediocre quality.

Peter


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2010, 02:43:24 PM »
At an age of around 73 and having made pizzas for over 45 years, Dom is perhaps heading into the home stretch. At this point, I don't think he really cares what people think and will cling to the philosophy that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". People are free to buy his pizzas or not, for whatever reason.

Peter

Offline hotsawce

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2010, 02:49:04 PM »
That may be true, but it hasn't stopped him from raising the price while skimping on ingredients, and simultaneously introducing Di Fara T shirts for sale...all for money and convenience.

In my opinion, it's sad....to say the least.

At an age of around 73 and having made pizzas for over 45 years, Dom is perhaps heading into the home stretch. At this point, I don't think he really cares what people think and will cling to the philosophy that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". People are free to buy his pizzas or not, for whatever reason.

Peter

Offline PizzaVera

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2010, 05:00:42 AM »
I think you are forgetting something here..
DIFARRA is FAMOUS!  no questions about it.. and for that fact you pay a premium!
its like a hot nightclub in town. you pay to get in! why? becuase its hot.. and once inside the Budwiser is three times the price of down the street! why? becuase the club is famous.. not because the glass it comes in is more expensive..

ok I used alcohol has an anology, how about a MARIO BATTALI restaurant analogy instead?
why am I paying over 20 dollars for  Bolognese  at BABBO when I know mario is not even in the kitchen?
when I can get a better one down the street from an Italian for  12 dollars?

becuase MARIO is famous..

DI Farra is the last of a dying breed! he is the old skool miestro! sure he might not have been the greatest pizza man to have tossed a pizza..
but he is the longest on the block! and the pizzas taste good... and for that he deserves some credit..
and for that you pay a premium.. why should he charge the same as a new kids on the block?? he has built a repuation for himself he has slaved away for years..
people are not just coming for the pizza, they are coming to see the legend make it...
saying its just a tourist gemmick is not really fair.. he works hard! come on man.. this is a busy pizzeria! and he makes EVERY SINGLE PIE!
and he has for 50 years.. a shop like that would have 5 or 6  guys working it.. he does it all alone..
I don't think its becuase he is cheap.. It becuase everyone is coming for his PIE! HIS PIE! not a franchised clone!

you think mario batali cooked my spaghetti?? of course he didn't...
but I paid the premium anyway... I felt ripped off actually.. if I made the trip to DiFARRAS and some young kid made my pie.. I would feel 5 bucks was a rip off...  I think DIFARRA knows that so he makes every pie...
yes 5 bucks is expensive for a slice of a no named pizza from joes pizza shack!
but the most famous pizza joint in NYC.. I dont think so..


 

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2010, 05:31:37 AM »
1. You'll never see me stepping foot in a restaurant owned by anyone that's ever been a host on the food network. Ever.

2. Fame is meaningless.  I could care less who makes the pizza- if it's got a mediocre 2 hour fermented crust, I'm not even paying $1 for a slice. It's not about the person, it's about the pizza.


As far as I'm concerned, if you've been making pizza for 50 years straight, you should know everything there is to know about it.  50 years ago, he basically learned just enough to make a mediocre crust, topped it with special ingredients that no one else was using, and, because his pizzas have continued to sell for all this time, he's buried his head in the sand and learned nothing more about his craft. There's keeping it simple and there's laziness. A two hour ferment is just plain lazy pizza making.

He seems like a really nice guy and I wouldn't mind hanging out with him, but he's never getting a single penny from me.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 07:07:31 AM by scott123 »

Offline PizzaVera

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2010, 05:53:26 AM »
1. You'll never see me stepping foot in a restaurant owned by anyone that's ever been a host on the food network. Ever.

2. Fame is meaningless.  I could care less who makes the pizza- if it's got a mediocre 2 hour fermented crust, I'm not even paying even $1 for a slice. It's not about the person, it's about the pizza.


As far as I'm concerned, if you've been making pizza for 50 years straight, you should know everything there is to know about it.  50 years ago, he basically learned just enough to make a mediocre crust, topped it with special ingredients that no one else was using, and, because his pizzas have continued to sell for all this time, he's buried his head in the sand and learned nothing more about his craft. There's keeping it simple and there's laziness. A two hour ferment is just plain lazy pizza making.

He seems like a really nice guy and I wouldn't mind hanging out with him, but he's never getting a single penny from me.

yes, you are right ... maybe he didnt learn more , but he found something which worked and he stuck with it.. why change a recipe which works..
if you want pazzaz go to MOTORINO or KESTE  they are making  trendy pizza.. you want old skool go to DIFARRA! he is one of a kind!

you want some garbage call dominos or pizza hutt..

Online scott123

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2010, 06:57:50 AM »
You can get great 'old skool' pizza from a lot of other places in the NY metro area at a fraction of the price- pizza that may not be made with a dough that's been fermented a couple of days, but a same day or an overnight dough with a boatload more character than DiFara's.

DiFara's pizza only 'works' for people that don't appreciate properly fermented dough- ie, tourists. Most native NYers may not know the first thing about fermentation, but they know a good crust when they taste it. Most of us were weaned on pizza. It's in our blood.

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: New York Times Article: Di Fara's
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2010, 07:24:04 AM »
If you read reviews on the place (not yelp) a lot of people that live in and around that area never go there because they all say its a "tourist trap". A lot of them talk about a Joe's thats near there that has way better pizza, there are probably like a million "Joe's Pizzerias" in the area but for people in Brooklyn to say his pizza isn't that great says something. One of my cousins friends used to live couple blocks from DiFara's and I asked him if he ever went to this place called Difara's he didn't even know what I was talking about.


 

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