Brooklyn Boro

DeMarco, owner of famed Di Fara Pizza, dies

March 17, 2022 Raanan Geberer
Share this:

Domenico DeMarco, the founder and owner of the famed Di Fara Pizza in Midwood, named by many as the best pizza in New York, has died at the age of 85.

According to the Di Fara website, DeMarco came to New York in 1959 from Italy and at first worked on a farm. He opened Di Fara at 1424 Avenue J in 1969 after hearing that there was a “good pizza spot” there.

In recent years, the neighborhood became solidly Orthodox Jewish, making the non-kosher Di Fara an anomaly on Avenue J. Nevertheless, at any time of day, there were long lines of visitors from other parts of New York or tourists waiting outside in line for pies or slices. 

Di Fara Pizza was also a regular destination for several “pizza tours” for food aficionados. Inside, there were only 15 chairs, but people lined up to sit in those chairs, too, not only for pizzas to take out.

DeMarco always used top-of-the-line ingredients such as fresh basil, hand-ground cheese and San Marzano canned tomatoes, New York Eater said. Indeed, many customers said one of their main memories of him was standing over the pizza, chopping up pieces of fresh basil. In 2004, the New York Times profiled DeMarco, who said that his pizzeria was “slow food” as opposed to fast food.

The well-known Di Fara Pizza on Avenue J in Midwood. Wikimedia photo by Jacob Uriel

Praises for Di Fara pizza were almost endless. The Daily News, the Village Voice, New York and Serious Eats at various times said Di Fara had the best by-the-slice pizza in New York, as did New York Times critic Eric Asimov.

In 2018, Di Fara opened up a second Brooklyn pizzeria in the 3rd Street food hall in Williamsburg. Reviews on Yelp were good, but the Williamsburg outlet closed sometime in 2021.

New Yorkers were shocked when Di Fara was temporarily closed in 2019 due to non-payment of more than $165,000 in taxes, the Eagle reported at the time. But politicians worked to find a compromise, and the pizzeria reopened several days later.

Dom cuts pizza. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Maggie DeMarco Mieles, DeMarco’s daughter, did not give a cause of death, New York Eater reported.

Prominent New Yorkers were quick to offer condolences. Mayor Eric Adams tweeted, “Dom DeMarco was a legend. He brought a little slice of Caserta from Italy to New York City. His legacy will live on any time someone picks up a pie from Di Fara’s.”

Likewise, “Pizza Today,” a trade magazine, tweeted, “Today, our pizza family lost a legend. He dedicated his life and love to Di Fara and pizza making. He has forever left a lasting impression and inspiration to the pizzeria industry.”

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment