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Finally, a pizza site for the Tribe. I defect! This alone is inspiration for me to burnish my Hebrew. I will have work out a joint session with Oded for my next trip to the homeland. Ani ohev pizza!
Anybody ever driven a car around the narrow streets of New York? Some days you could spend 45 minutes inching along one mile of highway. The entire time, you're looking around at how many cars and trucks are trying to cram into a space that was designed for a small fraction of them. The patience-testing experience has you swearing off a repeat performance. But that doesn't mean one should write off ever driving a car here. Believe it or not, there are actually times when driving around New York is not only easy but--dare I say it?--quite pleasant. Enter Di Fara. Nothing said here is an embellishement. Walking into Di Fara at 4 p.m. on a Saturday is like driving into the Theater District for a Wednesday matinee during Xmas season. Just as our roads haven't changed much in the last fifty years (nor should they!), neither has Mr. DeMarco. Same roads no matter how many more cars there are. Same approach to making pizza, whether there are 3 customers or 103 customers. The skinny: There *are* times when Di Fara is just another pizza place, at least in terms of crowds. Those are the only times I'm willing to go. Just as I'm not disclosing my parking secrets in a public forum, same goes for my Di Fara secrets. This reminds me of that Yogi Berra quote: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." And when Yogi goes to Di Fara, his pizza is is cut into only six slices ...
There's something discerning about going out of your way to hit Di Fara and Patsy's but then also wanting to go to any of those others. Why not leave it at two pizza places and do something else? Believe it or not, there's more to do than just eat pizza. Besides, after eating at those two places, every other slice will seem insignificant.
Settle down, Beavis. Maybe I need a class on how to post things on the Internet. Between you and the Syracuse guys, everyone thinks I'm picking fights. I'm just making conversation. All in good fun. I don't mean to be smarmy, but at the end of the day this is still just pizza we're talking about. The only thing I really meant to take issue with was calling Mr. DeMarco's pizza-making "careless." It's reasonable to call the place too hot or the waits too long or even the pizza not worth those sacrifices. But Mr. DeMarco cares too much, not too little. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Genug shoyn!
Perhaps my title on the masthead should be "Di Fara apologist." It's as if Adam goads me into these smackdowns. My opinion is that Di Fara is sublime. What would I change about it? Absolutely nothing. You could make lots of changes to this or another pizza place more pizza makers, a large dining room, a clean bathroom and still make some pretty amazing pizza, perhaps even Di Fara quality. But you would still wind up with something other than Di Fara. So I vote to change absolutely nothing. I don't care for air conditioning, so it's tough for me to sympathize. Chalk that up as one more thing I love about Di Fara. I'd rather be there than Grimaldi's on a steamy August night. It gets hot in the summer. Deal with it. If you can't, hitch a ride to Alaska. It just occured to me that, all told, I have spent more time waiting for Di Fara pizza than actually eating it. I wouldn't change that part, either. As I've said in the past, it's a fun place to hang. I've met lots of interesting people there. The whole vibe of the place is perfect, and the good things in life are worth waiting for.
On the one hand, Nicky says that most pizzerias "don't know how to keep pizza fresh on the counter." On the other hand, Nicky doesn't like Di Fara because "the time it takes to actually go in and get a pie really takes away from the experience of enjoying the pizza itself." Come again? The whole point of Di Fara is that there is no counter. Food is made only as needed. That way, nothing sits on the counter. There's nothing wrong with grab-and-go pizza. But Di Fara is not the place to go to fill a void. I'm not sure Famous Famiglia is, either. I'd rather go hungry. If you don't like Di Fara, that's fine. Each person has his own taste parameters. But saying that Mr. DeMarco merely "whips up pizza" and is "careless" in doing so is just not true. He lives and breathes nothing but pizza for more than 80 hours a week, and sweats every detail in every pie. You are entitled not to like the result, but don't create a false impression to justify that opinion.
Does this make Michael Ayoub "the most trusted pizza man in America"? Is that the way it is? I'm imagining a day fifty years from now when a pizza place is named "Couric." Paley and Murrow, are already spinning in their graves.
You obviously spent your law-school years refining your pizza palate, something I never thought of doing back in the day. To wit, none of these names even rings a bell. Even your lone place on the Hill is well after my time, as is its predecessor. (Some alums in the office filled in the gaps for me.) What does one do at SU if not eating pizza or whining about the weather? Here's my manifesto of the top 11 brands of 40s I drank as a freshman: 11. Icehouse 10. Pabst Blue Ribbon 9. Golden Anniversary 8. Country Club 7. Ballantine 6. Genesee 5. Colt 45 4. Schlitz Red Bull 3. Schlitz Malt Liquor 2. St. Ides 1. Old English Eating pizza is much more fun, so kudos to your list. Come out to Forest Hills one day. You'll feel guilty about publishing a list without Nick's.
Actually, as I said in my E-mail response (written before my original posting here), which may well have gotten lost in cyberspace along with your "manifesto," I would love to see your musings on Syracuse pizza, precisely because I've never given it much thought. I guess it just hasn't been the same since Archie's closed to make way for Starbucks. That was a joke, by the way. And no, I don't have a list of the top 10 stores to be shuttered by Starbucks. But Zagat might. In my day there were two stationary Winnebagos with various offerings of cheap, fast foods: Ali Baba (between Sadler and the Dome) and Ziggy's on the east side of Dellplain. The pizza from those two--along with everything else--was wretched. It's amazing what drunken college students will eat for a buck. Now they've got Kimmel open half the night, which has Pizza Hut. Not sure which was worse. Needless to say, I'm a bit ignorant on the finer side of Syracuse pizza. By all means, please share your manifesto. On my next trip to the white north, I may even forgo settling for the Marshall Street fare.
I'd like to nominate No. 2 pencils for our top 10 list of the best writing instruments. Watermelon is easily the best member of the Cucurbitacae family. Oh, and despite what you may have heard elsewhere, white is still the best color for toilet paper. Last time I checked, pizza in Syracuse was about as good as the SU football team. I can't even name 10 pizza joints in the Salt City. I can't name 10 football players, either.
I've been making that high-rent argument for years. And, to be sure, pizza is not the only food that Manhattan lacks in good quality. But I no longer buy this argument. First, Manhattan rents have *always* been considerably more expensive than the rest of the city. One might make a good argument that Manhattan pizza was better in the 1960s, something I'm too young to verify. But even in the '60s, Manhattan rents were three or four times what they were elsewhere in the city. So that doesn't add up. Second, Park Slope and Williamsburg are not exactly low-rent districts, to put it mildly. But good-quality pizza is doing okay there. And the pizza is coming from relatively new restaurants, not holdovers from when these were middle-class neighborhoods. I am not qualified to make a generalization that New York pizza is not as good as it was in the 1960s. But it has changed a lot. I imagine one could have found great pizza *slices* anywhere back then. Today great pizza is largely limited to pie-only restaurants. It has become a destination food. That has its good side and its bad side. The economics are interesting, though. Little Italy charges more for a mass-produced slice next to Grand Central than Di Fara does for a top-ingredient one in Flatbush. Guess which one I'm going with?
The Jeno's commercial looks like a page from Rowan and Martin's Laugh In. Fun stuff.
I love it! Jimmy and Swanee get their picture in the paper. How fitting that Jimmy's ends up on Slice.
I don't disagree with any of the sentiments expressed here. I admit that I love the pizza and the whole scene at Di Fara to a fault. I'm willing to tolerate things there I, too, have had to remind Dom more than once about an order that I would never tolerate anywhere else. But isn't that typical of life in New York? I live seven miles from the office, which is at most a 15- to 20-minute commute in most of the country. It takes me 45 minutes on a good day and more than 90 minutes on a bad day, a delay that's largely unpredictable and unavoidable. That says nothing of standing on a platform at 3 a.m. watching the rats move faster along the tracks than I am. I get home to a roach-infested apartment that, while reasonably priced by New York standards, would still cost half as much anywhere else. And even when my pizza is delivered in short order, it costs $2.50 a slice. There are a lot of hardships to living here. For most people, it's not worth the hassle and expense, and I don't blame them. Di Fara is just another example of that struggle. I liked New York better before chain stores choked the streets, tourists flooded the sidewalks, and wealthy people stole the city from those who built it. Just like Di Fara, New York was more pleasant before "the word got out." I have thought about giving up on New York, but it's home. Just like Di Fara. Everything on that menu, from the pizza to the potato-and-egg hero, is better than it is everywhere else. If the answer is that we should keep it to ourselves so that we can order a pizza in 30 minutes or less, isn't that selfishness counterintuitive to a pizza Web log or Chowhound? Note to the management: There are definitely still off-hours. But I'm not sharing them in a public forum.
Toda ("thanks") for the perspective, Harry. Would you believe I went looking for Abu Shanab? I'm pretty sure I was in the right place. I made a left just inside Jaffa Gate, across from the Citadel. Looked up and down that block, to no avail. Considering all the tour books are woefully outdated, I figured the place was a goner. There's also Pizzeria Basti in the Christian Quarter, I believe on the Via Dolorosa. It was very touristy, and they wanted NIS 25 for a personal pie. On or near the midrahov in the new city, there's Sbarro and two branches of get this Big Apple Pizza. Kitchy d cor and all, I just couldn't bring myself to it. (Those three are kosher, for what that's worth.) I did notice an awful lot of burger joints particularly in Tel Aviv but didn't bother. In Tel Aviv, burger and pizza joints rival the schwarma stands, at least in quantity. Burgers I can get at home. Frishmann Falafel I cannot. Next year, I'll be sniffing out pizza in the Galliee. I probably won't have much luck. Any Haifa suggestions would be welcome. B'te'avon! ("Bon appetit!")
Di Fara is not the problem. It's the victim of a much larger problem. Too often, pizza is viewed as fast food. Di Fara is anything but fast food. In pretty much any restaurant, people are used to having their food delivered in less than 30 minutes. When someone says a restaurant has "good service," what they mean is the food made it from kitchen to table in short order. The problem isn't Di Fara; it's our culture, which demands speed in everything. Yes, it takes longer for Di Fara to produce your pie a lot longer, in fact. If time is your primary concern when eating out, there are no shortage of other places that will meet your needs. But when you go to Di Fara, you are engaging in something other than fast food. When I go to Di Fara, I know what I'm in for. I bring a book. But even without reading material, there's enough to keep you busy there. Commisserate with fellow patrons; share your Di Fara strategies with others; talk with Mr. DeMarco about his tomatoes or his family or whatever; pick your own herbs from the plants in the window; learn to speak a little Italian; uncork a bottle of wine; do some shopping along Avenue J and learn to speak a little Hebrew or Yiddish; study Mr. DeMarco's every move as he makes a pie (amazingly, this never gets old); grab a rag, and clean the tables; take out the garbage. Over the years, I have done all of these things while waiting for a Di Fara pie. It has become part of the experience an experience I wouldn't change a bit. There's a group of off-duty cops who pass the time by playing cards. Waiting an hour for Mr. DeMarco's pie makes you appreciate it even more. I could list a dozen ways in which Mr. DeMarco could speed up his operation. But all of them would hinder the final product. To me, that final product is what's most important. Why the hurry? Life's too short. Throw out the cellular phone, unplug your laptop and television, and wait an hour for your pizza. Slow down; you just might enjoy it more.
It's not so much that pepperoni is obviously trayf; outside Jerusalem, most restaurants are not kosher. Even to nonobservant Israelis and Arabs, I think, pepperoni is just plain foreign. Not that I ate at McDonald's, but even the nonkosher Jerusalem branch does not serve bacon. But it does serve cheeseburgers and is open on Shabbes. Homemade falafel! I may have to try that.
Maybe Heywood Jablome is new slot man at the Post.
Man, Yankee Stadium has been in the family for nearly all of its 83-year existence, and I watch from the catbird seat in the upper deck. AK, no doubt because he's the macher of all these Web logs, walks right in and sits within spitting distance of Alex Rodridguez. No justice, I tell you. Maybe Slice will get corporate naming rights for the bathrooms or something. For a great eating experience near the Stadium, go to the Feeding Tree. It's a West Indian place on the east side of Gerard Avenue, just north of 161st Street. (Gerard is between River Avenue and the Grand Concourse.) Just be prepared for a fiery meal; it's not cooked for a gringo palate. Blows the pants off those $5 dirty-water dogs any day.
I'll give you the characters for Hebrew and Yiddish. Barbara Billingsley and I are working on the jive translation.
In addition to the Little Ferry branch, there's a Callahan's on Route 17 south in Hasbrouck Heights, not far from White Castle. Perfect for a pregame meal en route to the Swamplands. North Jersey is filled with fantastic hot dog joints. There must be at least a dozen of them in Paterson alone. Rutt's Hutt in Clifton has been on my radar recently for a return trip.
But if you're in New York looking for great dogs, there are a couple of trucks that park on the southbound side of Woodhaven Boulevard in the Rego Park area. Perfect for a preflight bite en route to JFK.
Singa's Pizza was on hand to represent Queens? And people took this seriously? I've got no beef with DeMarco's, but methinks the fix was in. You see, there's this place in Forest Hills. It's called Nick's. If you haven't heard of Nick's, you haven't heard of pizza.
The place is called P.J. Brady's. It's at 3201 Phillip Avenue in Throgs Neck. The phone number is (718) 931-3250. Take the IRT local to Westchester Square, and then the Tremont Avenue bus southbound. I have not been, though the New York Times article from 2002 sounded very intriguing.
The pie man's name is Louis Palladino. I believe the deal is he makes pizza Fridays and Sundays, so I'd call first to see if that's still the case.
Finally, if you go, do us a favor and report back.
I vote for bringing back the five-borough pizza tour, which had but one tour of duty--and ended up touching only four boroughs. That was some day.
Earth to planet Post: There already is a tax on pizza. It's called the sales tax.
Surely, Dottie Schiff must be rolling over in her grave.
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