Domenic, Di Fara Pizza, Midwood, Brooklyn, 2010.
Sink planters, Roberta's, Bushwick, Brooklyn, 2010.
All images © Valery Rizzo
( From my Brooklyn book project )
Five years ago when I was in southern Italy, I remember my cousins taking me out for many pizza dinners. There was the place at the agri-tourismo on a mountaintop overlooking a pool glimmering in the moonlight. The pizzeria at the top of the promontory in old Agropoli, overlooking the ocean. The place out in the countryside where we had to drive up through unpaved country roads, almost hitting a family of foxes, the pizza was made outdoors in wood fired ovens and there were wasps as big as my entire thumb. Then there was the local place where you saw everyone in town and all the gossip happened.
When I returned home, pizza was never the same again. I was dreaming about the pizza I had eaten in Italy. The image that still remains in my memory is the one of myself one evening staring down at a pizza pie with large pieces of local proscutto and ginormous whole green olives, as I sat looking over the pool and the valley of olive groves and countryside below. To this day I cannot eat pizza unless it is extraordinary.
Over the last couple of years some new places in Brooklyn and some not so new but newly discovered, have started making pizza just as good if not better than what I remembered from Italy. Two of my favorites are Di Fara on Avenue J and Roberta’s in Bushwick. I also like Franny’s and Totonno’s.
Roberta’s has to be my favorite at the moment. It is all about the vibe and the fresh ingredients. The pizza there compares to the type of pizza I had while in Italy because of its use of local products and taste. They have an outdoor patio with lots of interesting surroundings. A glass-walled radio network housed in a shipping container, a deejay spinning great music, a rooftop and backyard garden, where they grow their own produce.
Di Fara Pizza on Avenue J in Brooklyn is all about the experience. At first glance this hole in the wall with its five dollar slices is puzzling (yes, I said five dollars a slice) but this long line of people had to know something I didn't. Once inside, this Brooklyn gem has you captured. Each pie is hand made by the owner Domenic, who crafts each and every pie himself using quality imported ingredients prepared on the spot. A chunky tomato sauce, two types of freshly grated cheese (regular mozzarella and grana padana), extra-virgin olive oil, and chunks of Mozzarella di Buffala. When the pizza comes out of the oven its placed in front of you and more olive oil and more grated cheese is then sprinkled on top. Finally Domenic holds a bunch of fresh basil above the pie and with a scissor cuts large pieces onto the pizza. All the while people stand around with their eyes wide and their mouths watering, waiting as long as it takes, and it can take up to 20-45 minutes or longer, so if your in a rush this place is not for you. Finally you get to eat the pizza and WOW! is it good.