Known as the pizza icon of New York, Domenico "Dom" De Marco knows good food when he tastes it. When he came to the United States in 1959 and started making pizza in Brooklyn, he knew what he was doing. He opened Di Fara Pizza in 1965 and nearly 60 years later, a slice at Di Fara Pizza tastes exactly the same.
For this episode of In The Know: Extreme Lengths, we went behind-the-scenes at one of the most highly rated and renowned pizza spots in New York. Nothing much has changed at Di Fara since De Marco founded it — even the oven.
"We've gone extreme lengths to maintain the integrity of the recipe and the business," said Margaret Mieles, De Marco's daughter and the manager of Di Fara Pizza. "We're known as 'the most expensive pizza in New York' because to maintain this recipe, we stick by sourcing out the top ingredients, always. We never allow ourselves to compromise the quality."
De Marco still occasionally works in the kitchen at the age of 82. For a while, he was hesitant to even let his six kids help out with the cooking. When asked whether anyone made a better pizza than him, De Marco said, "I don't think so."
"I have a lot of confidence in myself," he said. "I make sure they come out the way they are supposed to, you know? If I can't do it, I close for the day, you know? I no let nobody do."
When hiring people, Mieles says she tells new pizza makers to keep their ideas to themselves — nothing is going to change.
"They're supposed to do it the way I've done. Something like that, you can't change," De Marco said.
Many of the ingredients are imported from Italy, but what holds the whole process together is their oven.
"The oven is definitely part of the recipe," Mieles said. "We've had this oven for over 54 years. We've had days where the oven breaks down and we have a line waiting, and we have to say 'the oven broke down.'"
Other, more modern ovens do not cook as high as this one, which is why it's such a necessity in the kitchen. But it's clear many think those high standards are worth it.
"We decided to go to, like, the must-taste places in New York," one woman visiting from Los Angeles told In The Know while waiting for her Di Fara slice. "This is on the list — actually the first on the list."
With thousands of positive reviews online, Di Fara Pizza has solidified itself as a Brooklyn food staple. "I feel very proud," De Maro said. "Make me feel good."
"Good food is like good company — that person you always want to see and hang out with," said Mieles. Di Fara Pizza is both.
Watch the full In The Know: Extreme Lengths episode above.