If NYC has thousands of pizza places you’d think there would be enough for everyone and never a line out the door or a two hour wait for a slice. You thought wrong. There’s probably really only 50 or so that have cult followings, and then perhaps 10 or so that are considered to be, flat out, THE BEST. Add to that the fact that New Yorkers will go to the ends of the earth, or the adjacent borough, and beyond if they hear there’s the possibility of good grub or a new hot spot and the lines out the door don’t seem so crazy after all.
There are three pizza joints in Brooklyn that I consider to be in the upper crust (pardon the pun). They’ve all been around for a long, long time (and it shows). They all have cult followings. And they’re all dishing out a pretty true NY style slice.
Let’s start with what most would consider to be the reigning champion on Brooklyn pizza, Di Fara in Midwood. Drive down avenue J at noon and you’re guaranteed to see a line already formed outside of this tiny shop. They’re infamous all over the city for amazing pizza, but also perhaps equally infamous for their high prices and history of health code issues. The line, however, says it all. It seems no one cares that there is dirt and grime everywhere or that you have to take out a second mortgage on your house for their $30 pie. My husband and I are among them.
If you’re lucky enough to get a seat at one of the metal folding tables (there are probably 8 seats) you should count your blessings and order a whole pie because at $5 a slice, once you eat that first one, you’re pretty much going to have to have another one, or two, or three. It is amazing pizza.
Domenico DeMarco and only Domenico DeMarco makes the pies at Di Fara which is a blessing and a curse. He’s not the youngest man on the block and his meticulous ways mean you’re gonna wait a while for your pies. His meticulous ways also mean you’re going to want to hug him after you take your first bite.
The pie is thin and crispy with a light application of cheese and a heavier application of spices, basil and olive oil. The result is the most flavorful pizza I’ve ever had.
*Next to no seating. Cash. Can get slices or a whole pie. Be prepared to wait*
Totonno’s(opened 1924) was actually opened by Antonio “Totonno” Pero, a former employee of what many consider to be THE first pizza parlor in NYC, Lombardi’s on Spring Street.
There’s actually a decent amount of seating(8-ish 4 tops) in Totonno’s, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be waiting for a table. When you finally sit down you’ll be treated to a show. One man stands behind the counter. Like a machine he delicately stretches each ball of dough so it’s almost paper thin in the middle and plump on the outside. After he lays slices of fresh mozzarella and ladles of their signature tomato sauce on the pie he begins the oven dance. Round, crusty pies move up and down, left and right in the oven until they’re cooked to perfection.
The crust at Totonno’s is the star. It’s impossibly thin and crispy in the middle and doughy, plump and chewy around the outside. The rest of the flavors are good but pale in comparison to the crust. If you have a friend who doesn’t like to eat their crust take them here and steal theirs.
The prices are reasonable (mid 20’s with toppings) considering the size and quality of the pie. They’re robbing you blind with the cost of drinks (I’m talking a fiver for one of those small cokes), but suck it up and support a pizza place that is on its way back from the brink of hurricane disaster. They’ve been around for close to a hundred years and I can see why.
*Ok seating so you can try to go with a group. Cash. Whole pie only. Expect to wait.*
Some die hard pizza aficionados might be surprised to see Luigi’s of Sunset Park on this list. It isn’t considered by many to be one of the heavy hitters and that’s a shame because it’s a true, old school Brooklyn pizza parlor churning out fantastic pies at a great price ($19-20 with a topping)…and they deliver!
Luigi’s has a famous reputation of its own. It’s the pizza place in Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy, but they’re even more famous in the neighborhood for being the real deal. They make a great NY pie with a thin, crispy and chewy crust and just the right amount of cheese to sauce ratio. Not many pies can be transported and still taste amazing. This one can(I can attest to this as I eat it way more than I should). Every time I sink my teeth into their meatball pie (it’s phenomenal) I whimper a little. The hubby things it’s hilarious that it has that effect on me each and every time I eat it but it does. I LOVE Luigi’s.
They also serve a fresh mozzarella pie which some people swear by but I’m a fan of the regular pie with meatballs.
There’s some seating in the back (maybe 12 chairs…take cash to pay) but if you’re there alone and just getting a slice or two do what the locals do and stand at the counter. You can’t miss the place. Look for the faded sea foam green and red sign that I’m sure hasn’t changed since the day it opened in the 70′s. If you want to experience Brooklyn pizza like a local this is the best, and most delicious place to do it.
*Whole pie or slice. Ok seating so a group of 4 shouldn’t have a problem. Cash. Most likely no wait. They deliver!*