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Di Fara Pizza HORRIBLE

Okay, I think we probably share fairly similar tastes in pizza. I also like Nick's, Amore, New Park, and King Umberto's. Haven't been to Patsy's in Whitestone or Grimaldi's in Douglaston (though if they're related to the Patsy's mini-chain in the city and the Grimaldi's by the Brooklyn Bridge, then I don't care for them either).

Here is where I think is the source of our disagreement. Your assertion that (I'm paraphrasing) "if only there were more skilled pizzaiolas, there would be many more excellent pizzerias" seems overly simplistic and therefore flawed to me because you're not segmenting the pizza market and taking into account the different demand drivers. The slice joints and the whole-pie places shouldn't really be judged against each other. As you note, different price points. But also they're serving different customer needs.

Earlier, I mentioned what drives the slice joint market (quick, cheap, and filling) and compared it to street food. The whole-pie places, on the other hand, are meant for customers who have more time and money to spend on the meal. They're competing more with other sit-down restaurants. They can afford to use higher quality ingredients because they have customers who are willing to pay for that. Their pizza is being made to order and not ahead of time and reheated like most slice joints. Nick's is a whole pie place as are Roberta's, Lucali, Franny's, and Paulie Gee's. It makes sense that in general, these whole-pie places would make "better" pizza than the slice joints. I don't think, however, the market can support 1600 of them or even many more than currently exist (50, 100, 150?).

Shake Shack is more like the whole-pie place. Burgers are made to order, and the food is not really that cheap. It's not comparable to the vast majority of NYC pizzerias which fall in the slice joint category. I'm not saying customers can't enjoy both a Shake Shack burger and a slice. Or both a slice and a whole-pie. But they probably want these at different times.

Di Fara, even though it does sell slices, currently shares more characteristics with the whole-pie places given the wait time and price. I think it's also important to note that, based on some Chowhound threads, it seems that Di Fara was a regular slice joint and not doing particularly good business until the place started to get media attention. Dom then had the luxury to transform his pizza, use higher quality ingredients, and raise his prices because there was a ready and willing customer base. Many other slice joints don't have this luxury. There are some things that are done that might compromise quality but that's the business environment. The demand side of the equation matters a great deal. Doesn't mean these pizzaiolos are necessarily less talented or lack pride in what they do.

1 day ago
churros in Outer Boroughs

Do you like or dislike the new format ?

Indifferent for now.

It seems that the site just added a few new features which I can easily ignore. And the hearts don't bother me.

One benefit I see in the Q&A format is that this thread is much easier to read than the "Introducing New Conversations Type" thread. The other one has pretty much been overtaken by a few displeased folks and is bogged down by chattiness.

1 day ago
churros in Site Talk
3

"Artisan" Western-style bread in Flushing

Ahhh, okay. I thought that you hadn't been to Cannelle before in which case I would have recommended going there just to try their other stuff. By the way, if you go back to La Boulangerie, I heard their almond croissant is very good though I haven't tried it myself.

Agreed on the service at both places. Not the most friendly, but that seems par for the course for a lot of bakeries throughout NYC. At least in my experience.

Jul 22, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

"Artisan" Western-style bread in Flushing

I think I worded my post awkwardly. I meant that I far prefer the viennoiseries at Cannelle over the ones at La Boulangerie. Breads are probably comparable though I admittedly have less experience on that front.

Leo's Latticini almost always had a few pre-assembled Mama's Special sandwiches on the counter on my visits. They would then add the roasted peppers and mushrooms at the time of purchase. I never had a problem with the sandwich until this last time. Hoping it's a fluke as well. Along with my roast pork sandwich visit.

Jul 22, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

Khao Kang in Elmhurst?

Went a few days after the NYT review came out. The lady behind the counter was very friendly, first asking us if we wanted spicy or non-spicy, and then directing us to the appropriate dishes. Picked 2 spicy dishes and 4 non-spicy. Enjoyed all except for the spicy sour bamboo shoot dish (probably just not for our tastes). Our favorite was a fried pork dish (non-spicy). It was sweet yet also had some other flavors. Maybe anise or cinnamon or something else. Also got a couple of desserts that the server was very enthusiastic about. One had green tapioca and coconut milk, the other was a dessert with a layer of jello and a layer of brown cream (with coconut, I think). I didn't enjoy them (I'm not a big dessert person) but my friend did.

Jul 22, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

"Artisan" Western-style bread in Flushing

I think breads at Cannelle and La Boulangerie are both fine. I like the other offerings at Cannelle a lot better though. The almond croissant, the apple turnover, the pastries, etc.

Going off-topic a bit, since you mention Leo's Latticini...I've been disappointed with my last two visits there over the past year. Got the roast pork sandwich on one visit and the Mama's Special on the other. Both were pre-assembled which I never minded in the past, but they didn't taste that fresh and were kind of dried out. Was I just unlucky or are they not as good anymore?

Jul 22, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

Restaurant week dispute

We can turn your statement around and say: would it be enjoyable for the OP to have his friends' enjoyment "diminished" (as another poster said in this thread)? And then for his friends to lie about that or tell the truth about that?

The OP is not wrong and his SO and friends are not wrong. For this situation, I'm weighing the SO's side a little more because it seems that the meal was set up primarily to enjoy RW. That if it weren't for RW, this group of people might not be getting together at all that evening.

I proposed earlier that the OP pick another RW restaurant and increase his chances of having a good RW meal while maintaining the "spirit" of the meal for the group. The suggestion that the OP consider not going to this meal at all seems like another good solution to me.

Jul 19, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

Not an error. The link is to a specific post within this thread.

Jul 19, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

I explain further downthread. May be easier to understand if we substitute this particular situation with a non-food activity. Or not. If you don't see my point of view, that's cool. Maybe I just spend more time with people where money is tight.

Jul 18, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Di Fara Pizza HORRIBLE

Check Facebook and twitter. Di Fara was closed for vacation and re-opened a couple of days ago.

Jul 18, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

Restaurant week dispute

The discount seems to be the source of enjoyment for the SO and the others. And based on the OP's post, why this dinner was set up in the first place.

I also don't like RW so I sympathize with the OP. But I see the other side as well. The OP could be viewed as unreasonable, thinking better food is more important than the group's enjoyment.

Jul 18, 2014
churros in Not About Food
1

Restaurant week dispute

I think DGresh's post explains this concept pretty well.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9825...

Jul 18, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

Yes, that makes sense. My posts here have been mainly in reaction to Bkeats' suggestion that the customers are to blame for RW not working. Those damn bargain hunters, they ruin things for everyone. No, the RW model is problematic.

Jul 17, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

Fine, send them over. What do I care? How does how they feel impact my dining experiences? It also doesn't seem like this is business the restaurants would have otherwise gotten if it were not for RW.

Regarding the RW model, if the restaurants are not happy with the clientele they're attracting and the short-term and long-term financial returns, then they have to make some adjustments. Reconsider whether it makes sense to participate in RW anymore. Change the menus that they offer. If one of their goals is to encourage customers to return, then change the value proposition. I recall some restaurants (maybe the Danny Meyer ones?) in the past giving RW customers coupons to use on subsequent visits. Did that work? I have no idea. Maybe not since I don't hear much about that anymore. Or maybe it did and those restaurants have been able to improve their business as a result and have no more need for RW.

If RW is not helping the restaurants meet their targets, the onus is not on the RW customers to change. The restaurants have to figure out something else. Think of promotions that will encourage the clients they want and discourage the ones they don't.

Jul 17, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

What's wrong with bargain hunters? So what if they feel good about spending money on things they neither really want or need. There are also plenty of people who pay full price on things they neither want or need. If it makes them happy, who cares.

I don't see the problem with people ordering the bare minimum during RW. It's a deal the restaurants choose to offer. Customers should feel free to do whatever they want. Some of these people might not order drinks or any extras for non-RW meals too. Is that a problem?

Saving a few bucks on restaurants for most of us here is not important. We prefer to maximize our dining experiences and a RW meal is not experiencing the restaurant at its best. But for others, money is often top of mind. RW allows some people to experience restaurants they may not otherwise go to. So what if they don't know better about the lack of value and that they're getting a lesser experience. If RW makes them happy, who cares.

This thread is about whether the OP should prioritize his own desires for a better meal over the desires of the group to truly enjoy RW. No right or wrong answer really. Depends on the people and relationships involved. Personally, since the service is likely to be harried and this is already going to be a less-than ideal dining experience, I'd go with the flow.

Jul 17, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

My questions were specific to this situation and things for the OP to consider. Ordering off a discounted menu vs. a regular menu. At a meal when the main objective seems to be partaking in the discounted menu and feeling good about the "bargain".

I don't think people looking for bargains would feel good about smaller portions. They probably also wouldn't feel good about seeing what they missed by going for the "deal".

Jul 16, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

No, that was my point. Some experiences are bad, some are good. A lot of people here make it sound like it can't be anything but bad.

Another reason why I linked to that thread (which I didn't say out loud) is maybe the OP could read that and change to another restaurant that was recommended in the past.

As I said upthread, I avoid RW myself. I've been to it in the past at some of the better places (the Danny Meyer ones) but I could tell a difference in service compared to my non-RW meals. Staff was overwhelmed. Still a good meal and there were cost savings, but not worth it for me to go back. I'd pay more for a better meal. Not everyone feels the same way.

Jul 16, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

It's funny reading how some are resorting to calling the SO names.

The main question should be whether the SO's concerns are valid. Might the restaurant week experience be ruined for others?

Most here don't see the value of RW. But for those people who do see value, who are we to judge? If this dinner was set up specifically to take advantage of RW and the others are excited about that, why not just go along? Otherwise, there is a risk of offending others. Implying that you think you have better tastes and the others are just being cheap. And what happens when you order differently and you get better food or bigger portions or whatever. How do you think the others will feel? How will you feel?

By the way, despite how many are making it seem, restaurant week is not the worst thing in the world. Some people have had good experiences.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/965986

Jul 16, 2014
churros in Not About Food
1

Restaurant week dispute

Another thing the OP could do is choose another participating RW place. One where the RW menu choices and dessert are more appealing.

Jul 15, 2014
churros in Not About Food

Restaurant week dispute

I avoid restaurant week for the same reasons others stated (smaller portions, limited menu choices, below-average service). Also, I often skip dessert anyway so the costs of a RW menu compared to just ordering an appetizer and entree are roughly the same.

That said, I would actually side with your SO on this occasion. If part of the meal's purpose is for the others to feel good about getting "value", then I'd stick to the RW menu and not rock the boat. You're probably going to get RW type of service regardless.

We compromise on food all the time. It's like going to a not-good restaurant that someone else picks for the group. Or going to a restaurant where everyone else is raving about the food and I think it sucks. I try to keep my mouth shut so as to not dampen the mood at the table.

Jul 15, 2014
churros in Not About Food
1

Di Fara Pizza HORRIBLE

Yes, sorry. I didn't realize your earlier post was tongue-in-cheek. When taken seriously, it seemed over the top to me.

I always wish for more good food. Pizza and everything else. But I don't think the NYC pizza scene is lacking. There are a lot of mediocre places to avoid but also plenty of good places assuming one knows where to find them and is willing to put the extra effort to get to them. Again, the 25-50 number seems random to me. Maybe that's how many places are repeatedly mentioned in the media but there are a lot of neighborhoods they ignore. Including some traditionally Italian-American areas in the outer boroughs.

I asked about your pizza experiences because I wonder if we simply have different standards. I like Difara and the artisanal gourmet pizzas that abound, but I also enjoy the regular NY slice. For example, the pizzerias that I've been to in this thread, (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/978016), I consider to be at least good and some to be very good or excellent. Have you been to any of these and did you like them? If you didn't enjoy any of them, I would suggest that you don't like the typical NY slice or you have much higher standards than I do.

Another thing I wonder is the demographics of the neighborhoods where you've had deplorable pizza. If it was in Manhattan or certain ethnic neighborhoods in the outer boroughs, I wouldn't be surprised. High rents in Manhattan make it hard for many places to put out a quality product at an affordable price. Meanwhile some immigrant neighborhoods just don't have strong demand for good pizza.

The demand for Difara's pizza is unusual. A lot probably due to media hype. Many other "best" places don't have long lines. I don't know if I've ever waited more than 10 minutes for a slice anywhere else. So I don't really see the pent-up demand for excellent pizzerias that you do. Excessive demand for Difara and mostly normal levels everywhere else.

I agree Shake Shack makes a good burger. I still don't think it's relevant to the pizza discussion. Many pizza customers want something quick and cheap. Shake Shack customers are looking for something else.

Jul 13, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

Long Island Ice Cream Spots?

Tried Baci Gelato. Really good. I think comparable to the better places in the city (L'Arte del Gelato, Grom). I really liked the pistachio, hazelnut, and mango flavors. Coconut was too sweet. Portion size is huge. My one complaint though is my cup of gelato was filled in such a way where one flavor was on the top and the other was on the bottom. Would prefer the two flavors side-by-side which is the way I've gotten it in NYC and Italy.

As for other places, while it's now a chain, Shake Shack in Westbury has good frozen custard. I especially enjoy their shakes. (Their other food though is not as good as in their NYC locations. Not sure why.)

Jul 13, 2014
churros in New York State (exc. NYC)

Di Fara Pizza HORRIBLE

Sorry to sound argumentative, but I disagree with most of your post. Here goes:

Suggesting that pizza might be a "vital endeavor" seems a bit much to me. And I love pizza.

Your 25-50 and 3% numbers seem so arbitrary. Only places that get media attention can be deemed "excellent"? I don't think so. Plenty of good places fly under the radar. And not just pizza joints.

Pizza is basically NY street food. Many people are not venturing far for it. It is often meant to be had on the run, for a quick meal or snack, to feed family/groups on a budget, etc. Mediocrity is acceptable when time and money are short. In fact, mediocrity can't be helped if customers can't afford to pay for better quality pizza. Especially in high-rent Manhattan. Also, the ongoing influx of new immigrants and people from other parts of the US into NYC means many just don't know better.

Pizza is subjective, and I don't know your tastes. Where are you having all this deplorable pizza? Is it possible that you just don't like the typical NY slice? Have you tried some of the better places in town?

I'll stick by my view that pizza-making skills are not rare. I grew up having a ton of great pizza in an Italian-American neighborhood just outside NYC. In fact, there is still an abundance of good places in my hometown. Demographics matter. I'm guessing other Italian-American areas within NYC also see higher concentrations of good pizza.

I don't think your Shake Shack example really works. Of course people will prefer the better quality food with all other things being equal. Shake Shack food isn't more expensive than the other options in Citi Field. Time is also not as much of a factor given the customers have already committed the afternoon/evening to the ballpark. How significant are these numbers anyway? A few hundred people out of an average attendance of 20,000-30,000?

Finally, the Bell Curve. Can be applied to many things. One can probably make the argument that the top X% of any food requires superior skills, dedication, pride, love, etc. Pizza ain't that special.

I maintain that the state of pizza is driven more by customer demand/demographics than anything else.

Jul 13, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

"Who do you follow?" threads [split from Manhattan]

Not sure you'll be able to tell how people really feel. Those who feel slighted might not complain. They may simply post less. Which would be unfortunate.

Though I'm now less troubled after looking at the original thread and seeing that not many people are posting names. Perhaps others also feel that this type of thread is problematic and it's not worth potentially offending some people.

Jul 10, 2014
churros in Site Talk
1

"Who do you follow?" threads [split from Manhattan]

I agree with what you're saying and that most Chowhounds are likely forming their own opinions on who to trust over time.

My point is this thread kind of goes against that. This is a brand new poster asking who the experts are. Saying tell me who to trust. Pretty much going the Yelp way or the Zagat way. Sure, most Chowhounds already do that to some extent. We weigh more heavily the opinions from regular posters and those whose tastes better align with ours. But to call out people explicitly?

How about all the regulars not being named? How about those who have been around a while but don't post as much for various reasons (less time, less money to eat out as much)? How about those newer members who just started posting? How about those lurkers who are thinking about contributing?

This thread comes across as, someone else said, kind of cliquey. That's too bad. I think all opinions are welcome. More datapoints are better. That means a little more noise, but also more useful information to be shared.

Jul 10, 2014
churros in Site Talk
3

"Who do you follow?" threads [split from Manhattan]

Agreed. Leaving this thread up suggests that the contributions of non-regular posters aren't really that valuable. What a turn-off. Why should I bother posting on Chowhound at all?

To the OP: it's easy to figure out who the "experts" are. If you search for a certain type of food, you'll find that certain posters will frequent those threads. More important to me is finding out whose tastes align well with mine. Not necessarily who's the most frequent poster.

Jul 09, 2014
churros in Site Talk
1

best crab cakes in maryland - any suggestions?

Sorry, have to chime in. I use this board a lot while traveling and Faidley's was one of those rare Chowhound misses for me.

I went last year and was very disappointed in the crab cake. Tasted like it was premade and sitting around a long time. Texture was odd. I also remember it being very heavy on the Old Bay seasoning.

The atmosphere was also off-putting. I kind of knew what to expect going in, but was still a little surprised how run-down the market seemed and there were people begging me for money while I was eating. This was a weekday around noon so maybe there are better days/times to visit?

I had a better crab cake at Duda's in Fells Point the next evening. Cheaper too with some sort of happy hour special.

Jun 30, 2014
churros in Washington DC & Baltimore

Di Fara Pizza HORRIBLE

Oh goodness, it's just pizza. How does one define "excellent" anyhow? How many of the 1600 pizzerias does any one person actually visit?

I do think there is a lot of mediocre pizza around. More likely a function of market demand than anything else. Not lack of pizza making skills. Many people want something quick, cheap, and filling. Most of the pizza out there satisfies that need. Fortunately there are also enough good places for those (including myself) who are a little snobbish about pizza.

Jun 24, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs
2

Jamaican food in Queens (and Long Island)

Thanks for the Corona rec. It also sounds like the Uniondale area is worth exploring when doing shopping out on the Island.

Jun 23, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs

Jamaican food in Queens (and Long Island)

I also use the Walkerswood jerk seasoning at home and really like it. Overnight marinade a must.

Hope you like St. Best. I suggest liberally applying the hot sauce over the chicken. It's a nice balance of sweet and spicy and not overwhelmingly hot like some Jamaican hot sauces can be. Definitely kicks the chicken up a notch.

I'm going to look to try the jerk pork next at St. Best. Only sold on Fri and Sat.

Jun 23, 2014
churros in Outer Boroughs