Friday, March 18, 2022

New York Mourns The Loss of Dom DeMarco


1936 - 2022

"We'll Miss You Dom"



DeMarco emigrated from Caserta in Italy in 1959. He opened Di Fara Pizza in 1965 with his business partner Farina. The name Di Fara comes from a combination of his and his business partner's names. DeMarco bought out Farina in 1978, but kept the name the same.

DeMarco heavily influenced Brooklyn pizza including younger pizzaiolos Mark Iacono of Lucali and Frank Pinello of Best Pizza. Iacono referred to De Marco as the "Joe DiMaggio of pizza".  Others have referred to DeMarco as the godfather of pizza.

Many consider Di Fara's to be the best pizzeria in New York City.

In 2015, DeMarco received a haircut in the pizzeria on his 79th birthday from Brian Girgus, a drummer, barbershop owner, and "pizza freak" from Los Angeles.

On March 17, 2022, DeMarco died at the age of 85.

From The NY POST ... March 20, 2022

A pizza man died last week. The pizza man.

Dom DeMarco was a legend. The immigrant from the Italian province of Caserta opened Di Fara Pizza on the most nondescript stretch of Avenue J in Brooklyn back in 1965.

The shop name was an amalgamation of his last name and that of his partner, whom he bought out in the late 1970s. He never bothered changing the name: It was all about the pizza.

A lot of New York experiences come with a side of New York attitude. Your waiter at Peter Luger will be gruff. The hostess at the hot-restaurant-of-the-week will sneer. Be ready to order when it’s your turn at the Zabar’s counter or else.

But Di Fara has never been like that. It gets busy, sure, but Dom and his kids, who run the shop, always had time to exchange pleasantries with the regulars.

And patience for the tourists. I watched Dom’s daughter Maggie take a pizza order from a visitor who wanted a different topping on each slice. She laughed and wrote it down, and they made it. (Please, tourists to New York, do not do this.)

Dom was a true artist, and everyone knew it. Each pie was a masterpiece. He’d drizzle the oil over the finished pizza and carefully trim, with kitchen shears, the basil that grew on his windowsill. All the ingredients were super high quality.

Few were not dazzled.

He didn’t want to wear the little hat the health department insisted on. He did not wear gloves. He would plunge his hands into the oven to take a peek at the pie inside. Unsatisfied, he’d rotate it until the bottom of the pizza met his expectations. His fingers were gnarled from decades of doing this. Every pie was perfect.

It was not, by any means, a quick process. For a long time, Dom was the only one who touched the pizza. People imagined they could place their order and go for a walk, returning to find their pie waiting for them. Amateur mistake.

I’d go to Di Fara as a kid when I was too young to appreciate its uniqueness among the other corner-slice shops. My first time at Di Fara in adulthood, we placed our order and took a seat. Error. The crowd around the counter was marveling at the man and his work, yes, but people were also keeping up with their place in the line. Ninety minutes after our arrival, starving and miserable, we checked on our pizza only to be told it would still be a while.

We discussed amongst ourselves. Should we leave? Nothing could be good enough to endure this wait! But how could we give up now? We couldn’t. We waited and then waited some more.

Then it arrived. Piping hot, steam rising. Dom snipped the basil on top, grated the Grana Padano cheese. Every pie had his personal touch. “Give it a minute,” his daughter Maggie told us. We couldn’t. We didn’t. We burned the roof of our mouths and loved every second of it. We had never had pizza like this, not ever.

Last week Kim Kardashian made news when she offered her advice to people who want to succeed: “Get your f–king ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.” Dom would be surprised to be mentioned in tandem with Kardashian (if he even knew who she was), but he shared this intense work ethic. His children would talk about forcing him to take days off. As he got older, we could hear them encouraging him to sit down.

The last time I had pizza made by Dom DeMarco was in October 2018. Just like the first pie, the last one stayed imprinted in my memory. We’d see him at the pizza shop after that, but he wasn’t making pizza anymore. He had passed on his gifts to others. The pizza at Di Fara is still incredible. 

"But there will never be a Dom DeMarco again."





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