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Pizza-palooza: Di Fara marks 50 years with pie-eating contest

The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

1/7
Pizza Perfection: The patriarch of pizza, Di Fara owner Dom DeMarco, presents some of the mouthwatering pies used in the contest.
2/7
First Bite: Melody Louisdhon gets her first taste of Di Fara’s commemorative chaos pie.
3/7
And They’re Off: Big Dave and Vincent Spagnolo got off to quick starts.
4/7
Championship Contenders: James Miro put up a valiant effort, while Joseph Espinal bowed out with less than a minute to go.
5/7
Championship Honor: Dom DeMarco congratulates Sean Lennon for winning the contest.
6/7
Dolce Fatts: Di Fara Pizzeria opened a new dessert shop and cafe, Di Fara Dolce Fatts, just around the corner.
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Cannoli Creation: Fabiana Santana, an extended member of the Di Fara family, creates a signature lemon basil cannoli using the same basil sprinkled atop every Di Fara pizza pie.

Famed Midwood pizzeria Di Fara celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sept. 22 with the debut of a special-edition pizza and a gut-busting pie-eating contest that had even the biggest slice savorers swooning.

The 78-year-old pizza artisan who opened his shop in 1965 says he never imagined it would last for half a century, much less become a culinary landmark and tourist attraction.

“I don’t think I ever thought about 50 years,” said Domenic DeMarco. “But everything turns around and things are good. I don’t got too many local people, though. They all come from far away. A lot of tourists.”

DeMarco turned to his seven children to create the special 50th-anniversary pie. Each of his kids selected their favorite pizza toppings — some picked the same ones, so the came up with five — and thus was born the Chaos Pie, featuring sausage, wild onions, semi-dried cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic, and meatballs.

Normally closed on Tuesdays, Di Fara opened for four hours in the afternoon to serve the Chaos Pie before shutting so DeMarco and his son, Domenic, Jr., could prepare the plethora of pies needed for the pizza eating contest.

Five corpulent competitors had ten minutes to see who could eat the most pizza. In the end, a competitive eater who specializes in chicken wings managed to stuff the final chunks of crust into his mouth just as time expired, barely finishing an entire pie in the time allotted. He said he was always confident in his victory, but admitted that the contest was more challenging than he thought it would be.

“It was tougher than I expected,” said winner Sean Lennon, who said he’s been a fan of Di Fara’s pies for more than 30 years. “The dough really gets you. Your jaw starts to get tired from the chewing.”

The birthday bash also included the opening night of Di Fara Dolce Fatts, a new dessert cafe just around the corner from the pizzeria that will feature espresso and goodies from popular Brooklyn bakeries, as well as in-house-produced treats, such as a cornucopia of cannoli, including a lemon basil variety made using the same aromatic basil DeMarco sprinkles on his pizzas.

The cafe shares an address with MD Kitchen the small storefront where the DeMarcos produce some of the Italian favorites the family patriarch used to make at Di Fara. One family member playing a large role at Di Fara Dolce Fatts says the dessert shop makes for a perfect complement to the pizzeria.

“The lines at Di Fara can be long and the seating is short, so you can take your pizza to Dolce Fatts and have some desserts after.” said Fabiana Santana, who manages Di Fara’s private party packages. “And we have a lot of tourists from around the country and the world. This gives them another reason to stay in the neighborhood and get to know the area.”

But then there are folks like Lennon, a tried-and-true fan who was eating at Di Fara long before hipsters and the Zagat set descended on the quaint eatery. Lennon’s love for Di Fara’s pies can hardly be doubted. The first thing he did after he won the contest and the “old man” presented him with a makeshift championship belt was scarf down a fresh slice.

Di Fara Pizza 1424 Avenue J between E. 14th and E. 15th streets in Midwood, www.difara.com, (718) 258–1367]; Di Fara Dolce Fatts (1012 E. 15th Street, between Avenues J and K in Midwood, www.difaradolce.com).

Reach reporter Eric Faynberg at (718) 260–2508 or by e-mail at efaynberg@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ericfaynberg.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Carmine from Williamsburg says:
Congratulations to Di Fara on its (not "it's") 50th anniversary. We love you, Dom!
Sept. 24, 2015, 10:13 am
Notorious N.E.D. from Greenpoint says:
Is that Die Hipster?
Sept. 24, 2015, 4:25 pm
old time brooklyn says:
many a late night grabbing a slice but really nothing special
Sept. 24, 2015, 8:54 pm
JayjayFromNY from BrooklynHeights 11201-2483 says:
MangiaMangia!
Hadda' great dialogue with Fabiana today! I'm
Gonna' don that Awesome Anniversary jersey while visiting with a Gumbadaccino (sp?) from SouthPhillie, JoeyRuffo, who's on location out by Burbank Studios! Gonna' wear it to Pinnochios, and show 'em some non-LaLaLand Class from Brooklyn!
They may have gotten the BrooklynDodgers from us, back when I was 7 (yah! I cried when da'Bums departed! What of it!)...
Thanks for the memories... and the extra 21#s
And, KudosToYou for FIFTY!!!
Must be doin' sumthin' right, huh!
Warmly, Jimmie Ortega-Marshall (Jacobjames)
Congrats!
JayjayFromNY (@Yahoo)
Sept. 25, 2015, 2 am
Nicki Gispacho from Kissimee St. Cloud says:
Pizza so good! Yumma Mia!
Eatsah da pizza!
Sept. 27, 2015, 1:31 am

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