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Di Fara Pizza

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1424 Avenue J

718-258-1367

Winter: open daily, noon to 8 p.m.; summer: daily, noon to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.

difara.com

Photo by Dominic Perri

Half a century ago, Domenico DeMarco opened the doors to Di Fara Pizza, a petite Midwood pizzeria in an unassuming corner storefront where Avenue J and East 15th Street intersect. New York's patron saint of basil-snipping works with enlightened Zen, kneading dough into imperfect shapes and taming the flames that roil beneath his metallic beast of an oven. This is quintessential Brooklyn (and New York City) pizza with blistered crust; rounds (or "regular," here) are made from mild, slightly yeasty dough, while squares are chewy and thicker. The winning formula for Di Fara's pies: mozzarella, a sprinkling of grated hard cheese, and lively San Marzano tomato sauce. But it's the ritual of it all that's captivated generations of New Yorkers and world-traveling pizza fans; the way DeMarco tends to each pie, anointing it with herbs, more grated cheese, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. All this folklore and fanfare has led to serious waits during primetime hours and occasional closures due to private parties. You can always get there early and join numerous others waiting for DeMarco (and the five of his seven children who run the shop with him) to unlock the doors. Our favorite power move, however, is to place a pizza order at Di Fara and walk around the corner to sibling Italian comfort food restaurant MD Kitchen. Because what makes a two-hour wait for bread, sauce, and cheese better? Shrimp parmigiana heroes.