The Quest for the World’s Best Pizza

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Who doesn’t love pizza? There are blogs and websites dedicated solely to it, numerous Food Network specials highlighting it, and I challenge you to find a grammar school in this country that isn’t serving it for lunch on a Friday. It’s something everyone, young and old, has an opinion on. Whether the crust should be thick or thin, plain or with toppings, heavy sauce or heavy cheese. I had a really bad Algebra teacher in High School that liked to joke with the students that the things all people had in common were sex, the weather, and taxes – (kind of an odd joke considering half our teachers were nuns, and none of us were old enough to be paying taxes). It would have made much more sense if he had just said that what we all had in common was the weather, and pizza (I mean, even the guys in the A.V. Club had all had pizza).

When you live in NYC, on any given day of the week, you have the luxury of selecting from maybe a hundred or so purveyors of the world’s best pizza. What’s that you say? You come from a great pizza town too? Look, I’m sure you very well may come from a town in, I don’t know, maybe Nebraska that has this one really great pizza place that gets raves and raves and people line up for like 2 weeks in the middle of winter to buy it, and Oprah and Gayle took their private jet into town just so they could eat it, but seriously, that’s like, one place, and the truth is, a New Yorker could probably walk into a Famous Ray’s, or an Original Ray’s, or a Famous Original Ray’s and in less than five minutes buy a $2 slice that would rival it. So unless you live in Italy or something, spare me the angry emails.

My husband and I, if you haven’t already guessed, happen to love pizza (we even had our wedding rehearsal dinner at one of the Manhattan Totonno’s locations), and while we haven’t tried all of them, we have manged to fit in a good number of the more famous pizza spots, particularly the ones located in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some of the more famous places that make up our favorites list (like Grimaldi’s and Lombardi’s) are sit-down establishments, places where you sit at a table, order an entire pie, and are served by a sometimes surly waiter. Others, which we have less traveled to, are typical pizza joints, where you can order by the slice. One such famous place is DiFara’s, in Midwood, Brooklyn.

For those of you unfamiliar with NYC, particularly Brooklyn, let me try and paint the picture for you. On the one hand, you have yuppie Brooklyn. These are the neighborhoods of Brooklyn within a 15 minute subway ride of Manhattan, where charming restaurants and wine bars abound, cute boutiques sell $35 t-shirts, and celebrities buy 3 million dollar brownstones in which to raise their adorable babies whom they name after various fruit and fauna. Then on the other hand, you have deep Brooklyn. These are the neighborhoods where generations were born and raised, people have Brooklyn accents, and ethnic enclaves remain untouched by the impending yuppiedom just a mile or so yonder. Midwood, Brooklyn, where DiFara’s is located, is one such enclave. That would make perfect sense, of course, if Midwood were an Italian neighborhood, but it’s not. It is actually an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Go figure.

So after a subway trip into deep Brooklyn, to the appropriately named Avenue J train stop, we emerged in Midwood. Amidst the Kosher butchers and Judaicas, we began our search for DiFara’s. We had read that DiFara’s is always packed, so we kept our eye out for a busy storefront…which explains why we walked right past it (Cue the horn section):

 

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Horns: Wah Wah Wah Wahhhhhhhhh….

It turns out that the NYC Board of Health has been on a tear lately, and busted the legendary pizzaiolo, Dom DeMarco, for refusing to wear a hat and gloves while making his famous pies. Isn’t that lame? I mean, when is the last time you ordered latex on your pizza? Here was the note left by the family:

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Oh well. I guess we will have to wait a little longer to try what is supposedly the best pizza in the City. Until then, we have a newish local spot called Franny’s that’s been earning rave reviews.

10 comments to The Quest for the World’s Best Pizza

  • crcchristine

    You and I are in the same situation!!!!
    My husband refuses to eat ANYTHING green!! I can thank his father for this along with his dessert loving mother!! I also try to trick him and succeed every once and awhile! Cooking dinner is a whole other story!
    I just want you to know…I feel your pain girl!!! : )

  • Hi. I was just thinking about your blog last night, ’cause I snuck brussel sprouts(!), carrots, and onion into my roommate’s rice and she didn’t notice the evil brussel sprouts.
    The fact that it was black rice, and thus colored everything a uniform purple probably didn’t hurt, but it would probably work similarly taste-wise with brown rice.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever journeyed into “deep Brooklyn” but the lure of pizza might just get me started on that quest some day. Will I need my passport?

  • This is a very tasty site.

    Having just moved to Long Island, I’ve noticed that New Yorkers have a strange custom of folding their pizza in half before eating it, likely so they can eat on the run, rushing off to their next self-designated important thing to do.

    Keep up the good writing.

  • Ariane

    Hey! Love the blog :) I have to say that I have been to DiFaros in Midwood since I work in the area and I think it’s overrated :( Unless you like your pizza flimsy and floppy, I would stay on the Q and head to Nathans instead.

  • Love the blog. As a fellow New Yorker (resident of one of the trendy neighborhoods in Brooklyn that you mentioned :) ), I must agree that the array of pizza choices is dizzying. I’ve never heard of DiFara’s, but apparently must wait a bit longer before sampling it.

    Love your concept of sneaking veggies into your husband. I’m lucky enough to have a veggie loving husband, but enjoy your creativity in conquering your challenge. Good luck!

  • J

    Please don’t hunt me down and kill me when I tell you that….I’m not a fan of east coast pizza. Shh. Put down that gun! I can’t help it! I was born and raised in California, and the idea of folding my pizza in half is INSANE to me…the idea of not being able to get all kinds of fruity toppings, like eggplant or pineapple or procutto…also insane to me. I lived in Philly for 2 years, and TRIED to like east coast pizza, but I couldn’t bring myself to try it.

    But you know what? Next time I’m in NYC, I’m going to buy a slice. I’m older and wiser now, and perhaps I can open my mind enough to see that different things can still taste mighty good. And if I hate it, that just means, More for you. :)

  • thanks for all the comments, guys!

    As for the California pizza lover…..who says we all fold our pizza in half? :-)
    And I don’t know if you can compare Phillie pizza to NY pizza…..maybe next week when I head to Philly we’ll discuss cheesesteaks!

  • diningoncents

    If you are looking for great pizza in the city, you MUST try the artichoke pizza at Artichoke on 2nd Ave/14th street!

  • curt-ice

    In my experience, people will eat poo-poo if it is connected to some sort of local pride that makes them feel like they are somebody. But, if it were possible for these “sports fans” to discern the opinion of their taste-buds from the opinion of the herd they belong to, they would be able to tell that almost all pizza is garbage. I have been all over the world and have eaten pizza everywhere(unfortunately), and this I can say for sure- ALL chicago pizza is doughy and uninteresting, and is preferred by overweight people who value quantity over quality- oh boy! raw dough!! New York pizzas are oversimplified recipes with varying qualities of crusts, but a flavor that relies almost entirely upon sprinkled oregano and garlic salt. Any one who considers that special has no business giving out food advice, period. There is no good pizza in California, ’nuff said. Finally, for some reason, the best pizza- we’re talking flavor and texture, not any-other-thing, is…………….IN COLUMBUS, OHIO! And it comes down to two places- Tommy’s, and Massy’s. Tommy’s has flakey crisp crust that is layered and absolutely delicious, not just a bunch of dough. Massy’s crust is similar, but is also under-coated with a large-grit cornmeal that is truly unique and does something special to the flavor and mouth-feel. both have ample and very rich sauce, copious amounts of provolone, and, when you order just pepperoni (which I highly recommend) they use gobs and gobs of it, and all of them curl up and toast around the edges! Freakin’ Delicious! Their pizzas are well-crafted and carefully seasoned, not just big. So, don’t believe the hype about N.Y. and Chicago, folks. If you want the best, ya gotta come to Cowtown.

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