/Brooklyn Pizza Institution Di Fara Sucks. Here’s Why.

Brooklyn Pizza Institution Di Fara Sucks. Here’s Why.

That yellow can of Filippo Berio olive oil is a giant red flag. Run away.

I grew up in central New Jersey eating greasy pizza made by Italians who were either too lazy to source decent cheese, too greedy to splurge on the good stuff, or too confident their clients couldn’t tell the difference. Plenty didn’t have the culture to know any better. I know oily industrial cheese and second press olive oil when I taste it and I am neither willing nor able to overlook Di Fara’s liberal use of both. The ingredients, and consequently, the pizza, at the uber-famous Di Fara in the Midwood section of Brooklyn suck. I explain why on Food Republic.

2017-03-11T15:55:24+00:00 March 18th, 2014|Categories: Carbs, Food & Wine, New York City, Pizza, Restaurants|18 Comments


  1. Marilyn March 19, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I used to have a great deal of respect for your comments , Katie, but your rant about DiFara pizza is too much for me to bear. I find this type of journalism–if you can call it that–incredibly off -putting. To insult so many of us who have enjoyed DiFara pizza for so many years– in the manner that you chose–makes your credibility suspect.

    • Katie March 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Finally! A dissenting opinion written in a rational tone. I appreciate that. I have gotten some pretty ridiculous hate mail. I acknowledge your offense, but hope my rant (which was a commissioned piece, therefore, technically, journalism) opens people’s eyes to what junk is really being served at Di Fara. It has never been my mission to win any popularity contests and I feel strongly in saying what others don’t have the courage or knowledge to say. The response to the post has been overwhelmingly one of agreement, which I found quite surprising. I thought more had been duped by the sentimental reverence manufactured by the press and the “Made in Italy” scam. But actually lots of readers, food writers and chefs have reached out voicing their agreement.

      My post was simply bringing to light that which is so obvious. The yellow can in the photo should be proof alone that Di Fara celebrates low quality product–that’s Berio’s mid-range olive oil. Not extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil. Let’s do the math: a mid-range oil from a low quality producer. That adds up to repellent. If all the critics had done their homework in the first place rather than declare the ingredients at Di Fara the finest Italy has to offer, you never would have heard of the place and it would have remained a neighborhood place with filthy floors and a disgusting bathroom.

      Your credibility comment doesn’t deserve a response.

      • neo October 19, 2016 at 1:59 am - Reply

        EVOO was not meant to be cooked….thats why there are other versions of olive oil…. not that these other versions of oil are any less, but may be more appropriate for the application….

    • Katie Parla March 11, 2017 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Marilyn! thanks for your comment. I don’t think the article was a rant and I think I will leave it to my colleagues and editors and not to an offended reader to judge whether or not my work is journalistic.

      Others agree with you that the piece was offensive, but I won’t disrespect my readers by only filing words with which they will definitely agree.


      would bring my credibility into question.

  2. abe March 19, 2014 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Try Pizza Time on the next corner. Waaaaay better

  3. Marilyn March 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks for clarifying. And your point about the credibility comment is well taken. I do really, really enjoy the Sicilian pizza at Di Fara. But, after all it is a neighborhood pizzeria. There is nothing high-brow about the place. I never bought into the hype about it being “the finest that Italy has to offer”. And yes, the place is filthy and the prices and waiting times are absurd. But compared to a great many neighborhood joints in the metropolitan area, it remains high on my list.

  4. Maria R March 27, 2014 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    I feel their prices are absurd to start, The place is in fact filthy and extremly small you have to worry that when you are scrunched next to the wall a roach don’t crawl on you. The most important part is The 2 times I was there the pizza came outboth times burnt and they still had the nerve to serve it. Learned my leason..

  5. Dario O June 30, 2014 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    You are probably correct in your assessment of this pizzeria (which I have never heard of) in NYC. It is just your tone that I find off-putting. You are young … many generations younger than my generation, so maybe I am out of touch, but there is such a thing as civility. What I find especially offensive is the headline. That word seems to be very popular but I find it vulgar.

  6. Tony July 12, 2014 at 5:30 am - Reply

    While I also find the dedicated following DiFara commands, baffling when considering the actual pizza being sold, I’d be wary of using the Berio olive oil as the main indicator of quality.
    After all, venerated Naples institution Da Michele uses soy oil rather than olive oil as a topping for their celebrated pies. I’m sure there are many other examples. It is my opinion that sourcing high quality (expensive) olive oil for pizza is something of a waste since the nuances of flavor rarely bear up to the high heat of a pizza oven.

    • Katie July 13, 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

      Hey Tom! Da Michele is behind the times, as many Neapolitan pizzaioli have abandoned their low quality oils and high protein flours in favor of proper ingredients adapted to creating a light and digestbile base. Pepe in Grani and 50kalo are two Campanian pizzerias that are the current point of reference. Da Michele is famous but not the gold standard.

      Ingredients dont need to be expensive but they do need to be natural and the oil must be extra virgin olive always. the flavor nuances are not the point of using EVOO and no one would claim they are preserved. using any other kind of oil can create a heavier, less digestible crust and. The US pizza pie scene doesnt really consider digestibility but in Italy it’s of huge importance.

      drizzling Berio second press oil on top of a $30 pie as Di Fara does is unconscionable. the cheese di fara uses is industrial junk and the pizzas are heavy and greasy (due to the bad oil and the cheese which secretes oil because it is processed) and that is why they are bad. the olive oil is just one factor but it is not the only one. id say the cheese, which behaves like emulsified oil instead of dairy, is more offensive

  7. Tony July 17, 2014 at 3:00 am - Reply

    Well 50 kalo only opened recently and Pepe in grani is not exactly typical of the region so I’m not sure if that can be used as a representation of Neapolitan/Calabrian pizza trends. I do take your point however regarding digestibility. Quality issues aside I think that one of the problems with Difara is balance. There is way too much cheese on a relatively thin pie, which in combination with the oil equates to a grease overload.

    • Katie July 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      Ciro Salvo and Franco Pepe are outstanding pizzaioli and neither of their venues are their first foray into the business. They are absolutely representative of the current Neapolitan/Campanian pizza trend of sourcing excellent materials, developing exceptional dough, championing pizza as a quality product. It’s been going on for a a few years now in a significant way though this is not very well documented outside of Italy.

  8. Tony July 18, 2014 at 1:23 am - Reply

    Just noticed my typo re campania not Calabria!
    I think you’re right re: emerging trend of some prominent pizzerias/pizzaiolos with more careful sourcing of ingredients. Do you think international awareness/recognition of Neapolitan pizza has played a part in this re-examination of Neapolitan tradition?

  9. Steve October 2, 2014 at 3:45 am - Reply

    I could not agree more with this review. In fact, out of frustration I came home and googled “di fara sucks” (needless to say, this review appeared near the top) because, as a customer, I felt duped – I was the real sucker who waited over an hour to buy an over-hyped $30 pie to share with my family. I do have tremendous respect for the proprietors, especially as I, myself, am from a family of small business owners. All I am saying is that for $5/slice, an hour wait, the accolades, and all other things considered this place simply does not deliver. Without the hype and price tag (slice should really be $3-$4) I’d give a great rating. Such are the dynamics of creating – and becoming – a successful food establishment. Kudos to Di Fara’s. Customers, a word of advice. Just go with normal expectations.

    PS. 5 hours and half a bottle of Pepto later, I am still having trouble digesting the 2 slices I ate. =/
    Also, is it fair to credit Di Fara’s for not breaking with tradition when they are charging $5 a slice? We are not in Times Square here. Aren’t they simply using “traditional” as a marketing tool? Old school pizza with VERY new school prices. Last I checked small businesses all want to maximize profit whatever the veil. It’s about the bottom line. It’s simply the nature of the business – or our livelihood.

  10. artie January 3, 2015 at 4:06 am - Reply

    Wow, Katie! Many thanks for an almost unheard of, on-the-mark review of Di Fara pizza.

    I live around the corner from Di Fara, and I stopped eating there over twenty years ago…before the hype, before the lines, and before the silly fresh basil.

    Dominick was using the same Berio olive oil back then, but I *think* his cheese was the real thing, and I always attributed his excessively oily pies to the enormous amount of oil he poured – NOT drizzled – onto them.

    My major complaint with his pizza (I never thought much of its taste!), though, was his crust, which was like a soggy paper towel.

    Eating a slice of pizza at Di Fara was an exercise in futility… You picked it up, and the point flopped down and the sauce and cheese slid off onto your plate, and if you tried to recover in the other direction, the oil poured down your wrist.

    In my eyes, a pizza is like a building… If you start with a lousy foundation, it doesn’t matter what you build on top of it, and Dominick would have done himself a bunch of good had he paid attention to how Eddie Miano made a pizza when he worked in Bella Donna on Kings Highway before he opened his own store.

    Dominick and Margaret used to look at me like I was crazy when I asked for a knife and fork to eat a slice of pizza, but they were standard issue the last time I looked.

    And the comment about Pizza Time on the next corner is almost well-deserved. It’s owned by an immigrant Italian (coincidentally, from the same town as Dominick) who went kosher when the neighborhood could no longer support two non-kosher pizzerias.

    He turns out an excellent pie under the circumstances…excellent crust, but the cheese leaves something to be desired, and so many different guys make the pies that there’s not much consistency.

    It’s worth the one block walk, though, if you don’t feel like hacking the line at Di Fara, where, I understand, the price of a slice is now $6.50!!! (Did I hear somebody say “greedy”?)

    Thanks for the opportunity to get this rant off my chest 🙂

    I’m just sick to death of people who’ve got no idea what real pizza tastes like gushing over Dominick’s garbage!

    I’ve yet to find a Brooklynite who speaks positively about Di Fara pizza.

    I haven’t gotten to Totonno in quite a while; I hope it’s still as good as it was.

  11. artie January 7, 2015 at 8:24 am - Reply

    I hate to say this, but judging by the tone of your review, it sounds like you went to Di Fara with “malice aforethought”.

    • I just walked past Di Fara and saw cans of Vantia and Molivo evoo, but they definitely used the Berio in your pic up to some point; the back wall used to be lined with empty cans.

    And even giving Margie’s “the filippo berio was delivered to us in error” the benefit of the doubt, considering Di Fara’s reputation for using only the highest quality ingredients, their using it was inexcusable. (Their displaying it was asinine.)

    • Did you document the “Grande”? (Other than mozzarella in buckets, I don’t remember ever seeing branded cheese at Di Fara.)

    • The abuse to which you’ve been subjected by illiterates who took “lazy” out of its “lazy sourcing” context is totally undeserved…a reaction to an unfortunate word that ignores the reality of which it’s a part.

    Dominick makes a lousy pie…Di Fara pizza sucks in general…and the place really deserves a terrible review, but it wouldn’t surprise me if your almost vituperative piece and the overwhelmingly negative response it has generated have not just perpetuated, but enhanced, the legend.

    And finally: “The response to the post has been overwhelmingly one of agreement, which I found quite surprising. I thought more had been duped by the sentimental reverence manufactured by the press and the “Made in Italy” scam. But actually lots of readers, food writers and chefs have reached out voicing their agreement.”

    Where? Of the 119 comments on Food Republic, less than a (literal) handful are positive.

    (I’d have preferred to post on Food Republic, but their requirements are onerous.)

  12. Paolo November 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Folks, He’s right! DiFara’s Pizza is overrated.

  13. Matthieu July 30, 2017 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your rant/article debunking the DiFara myth…

    Being an amateur pizza maker, although I’ve never tried it myself, judging from what I am seeing in the videos etc I could never understand why people would give him so much praise.
    For starters half of the pies coming out of this oven are burned, plain and simple. Then there is the masters’ genius line : “there is no difference between 2 hours risen dough and 24h one…” ( if the morons in line can’t see it, then there is in fact, no difference i guess)

    Peoples agressive reaction to your article is understandable, since it is the culinary equivalent of telling them their kids are ugly, their beard and tatts look is unoriginal and they have shit taste in music if they listen to david guetta.
    I mean how could they possibly be wrong ? Could that perfect judgment of mine be clouded by the hype ? No way bruh !

    I invite you to have a look at the bad reviews on yelp, there are real gems there.

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