My most memorable trips to Brooklyn started with the Slice of Brooklyn tour on December 4, 2011. My cousin offered me her extra ticket and I gladly accepted. Before that, my only experiences in Brooklyn were driving to Coney Island to take a few pictures and having dinner at Tommaso’s Ristorante. The Slice of Brooklyn tour introduced me to Grimaldi’s as well as L & B Spumoni Gardens. I’ve visited both places several times since, especially the latter.
In the past couple years, I’ve gone to some of the pizzerias I’d been reading about in Time Out New York, most of which are in Brooklyn & Manhattan. Some have locations in both boroughs. Luzzo’s, Motorino and Franny’s are among my favorites. Although there are still several on my list of places to try (Totonno’s, Lucali and Fornino come to mind), I crossed DiFara off my list on December 20, 2015.
I’d wanted to go to DiFara a couple other times, but it never seemed to work out. There’s so much hype and I just wanted to try a $5 slice to see if it was deserved. Nobody I knew that tried their pizza ever complained about the price (which is more than double most other places I’ve been to). Based on what I’d heard, I expected a bit of a wait when I got there.
My plan for the day was to get a box of macarons at Bisous Ciao on Bleecker Street, have a late lunch at DiFara, an early dinner in Sheepshead Bay and dessert in Brooklyn’s Chinatown. Just like when I visited Franny’s last month, I picked up the D train at W 4 St-Wash Sq and transferred to the Coney Island bound Q train at Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Ctr. I figured it would take about an hour to get a slice at DiFara.
When I exited the Q train at Avenue J, my first impressions of Midwood were that of a quiet (by Brooklyn/NYC standards) area with a famous landmark. The line outside the door at DiFara was less than ten people, so I didn’t get alarmed. The main dining area (which was smaller than I could have expected) was closed for a private party. Everyone had to go to DiFara Dolce Fatts Café around the corner to place their orders. I ordered one slice of round and one slice of square and was told it would be a 45 to 60-minute wait. This seemed longer than I expected, so I went for a slow walk around the immediate area.
While walking around the neighborhood, I noticed that the other pizzerias were almost empty. Since there’s not much to see in the immediate vicinity, I went back to Fatts Café and waited. The (very small) room had filled up in my absence and new walk-ins were being told there was a two-hour wait. After waiting another 90 minutes, I was told that my round slice was ready, but not my square. I decided to try the round slice and it was good.
After waiting another 30 minutes, I was told that the private party was over and I could go to the pizzeria and wait for my square slice. Even with a new iPhone 6S, loaded with plenty of great apps and books, I was beginning to get bored. I jumped at the chance.
There was something amazing about watching Dom DeMarco work. He moved extremely slow, but nobody seemed to care. How many other pizzerias could get away with this? After 15 minutes of watching Mr. DeMarco work, my square slice was ready. Unlike the round slice I had, I ate this one hot out of the oven. It was amazing. As good as anything I’ve ever tasted! Next time I go, I will bring a friend and order a square pie.
It was already dark out by the time I left DiFara. I boarded the Coney Island bound Q train for the 10-minute ride to Sheepshead Bay. I’d first heard of Sheepshead Bay in the Aerosmith song “Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy).” I knew from reading his recent autobiography that Mark Bell (Marky Ramone) used to live there as well. Since I’d been to Brighton Beach before, I decided to have dinner in Sheepshead Bay and then walk to Brighton Beach to catch the Q train back to Manhattan. Dessert in Chinatown would have to wait until the next time.
I found Dushanbe (named after the capital of and largest city in Tajikistan) on Yelp, after searching for “Russian food.” I’d had Georgian food in the East Village back on July 4, but never had any from the other former Soviet-bloc countries. Whenever I go to an ethnic restaurant, I try to find out how authentic it really is. For example, the Thai restaurant I tried in Lima last month didn’t have a single Thai person working there.
After sampling a fish platter as well as a lamb kebab with some of their amazing bread, I was glad I tried this place. The prices were extremely affordable, especially considering its still NYC. The fish platter cost $14.95. I would expect to pay more than that in Allentown or Harrisburg. The lamb kebab was the most tender I can remember having.
On my way out, I asked what kind of restaurant I had just eaten at and was told that it’s the only Tajik restaurant in New York City. I enjoyed it more than the Georgian restaurant I tried back on July 4 and would consider going again. After leaving the restaurant, I walked across the Ocean Ave pedestrian bridge where a few different people were fishing in Sheepshead Bay. The houses along Shore Blvd are palatial. I was in the mood to walk a bit, so I took Neptune Ave to Coney Island Ave to Brighton Beach Ave and caught the Q train back to Manhattan.