Forget Naples. New York is the world’s epicenter of pizza, and Di Fara’s, a small Brooklyn pizzeria, seems to be on everyone’s short list.
So it was that local businessman Albert Scalleat happened by there on a quest for the country’s best pizza on a tour that included New Haven, Conn., and other American cities.
Di Fara’s owner, Domenico DeMarco, was well known for using a mix of Romano and mozzarella cheese in his toppings, for the rosemary and oregano plants he kept in the window and for his crust, the wickedly crunchy type. “It was the best pizza I ever tasted,” Scalleat says. It took a lot of convincing to get DeMarco, to do a place here, but Scalleat persevered.
Open since December, Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria & Bar is a brassy, bright establishment hard by a Home Depot in Summerlin, with glossy wooden tables, chandeliers framing the pizza ovens in the open kitchen and white cross beams overhead. The recipes are DeMarco’s, but the food is supervised by chef Enzo Deluliis, a native of southern Italy with a long local résumé.
There’s a lot more than pizza on the menu. The restaurant makes its own meatballs and sausage from scratch, for instance, both available as appetizers. Grandma’s meatballs use veal, pork and beef. I like them in the rich house marinara, sprinkled with cheese, but you can also have them, three to an order, inside brioche rolls brushed with egg wash.
My sausage was tasty enough, redolent of fennel seed, but on the dry side, and it was hard to tell whether this was due to overcooking or a lack of fat in the sausage mix. The best appetizer choice may actually be eggplant pizzettes, two rounds of eggplant Parmesan with a crunch that rivals the house pizza crust.
And don’t pass up a salad on the way to that pizza. Among a long list of options, one stands out: the 15th Street BLT. It’s anchored by one of my favorite greens, the underused butter lettuce, and it employs avocado, bacon, tomato and Gorgonzola cheese dressing.
The menu informs us “every Dom DeMarco pie is made with hand-crushed San Marzano tomato sauce, the finest mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses, hand-cut basil and EVOO—extra virgin olive oil.” What it doesn’t tell you is that the pizzas here tend to be well-done, and use quite a bit of the oil to give the crust a golden sheen around the edges.
There are two varieties. One has a square, thick crust and is cooked in a cast-iron pan. The other, New York-style, has a medium-thin crust. The menu makes it clear the former isn’t Sicilian. “We’re from Naples,” says the description. In Naples, they’d call this focaccia, but so what.
Pizzas are available in two sizes: The New York comes in small and large. The Square Cut comes as half or full. These are trencherman’s portions, so beware. The smaller sizes are ideal for three, if one has a salad or appetizer.
So how do I like these pizzas? Yes, they are delicious, and there are too many toppings to list. But two that impressed me were a Quattro Formaggio (four cheeses) and the Di Fara Special, a square-cut with a lot of pepperoni. (OK, I admit, I’m a sucker for pepperoni.)
If there’s room, the house-made tiramisu, served in a glass, is interesting. Even better are the cannoli, canoe-shaped fried pastry shells filled with sweet, whipped ricotta. And you won’t need to take the “A” Train to get here.