But at 80-years-old, his children tell me, Dom DeMarco Sr. doesn’t have the energy he once did -- and the restaurant has had to adjust accordingly. “He has slowed down a lot,” Mieles says. “My dad is a very proud man, he pushes himself to do the best, but he can’t produce as many pizzas in an hour as he could when he was younger and stronger.” As a result, he’s taken a pretty significant step back from the business. All but one of his seven children now manage most of the day-to-day operations, and while he still makes pizzas, he now takes Mondays and Tuesdays off; and on the days that he works, his sons will occasionally sub in to work the pizza station so he can rest. “I feel OK about it,” Dom DeMarco Sr. says, quietly, about the recent changes. “It’s still my recipe. People still come. I just don’t want to sit around and do nothing.”
Still, that does mean that on certain days, customers don’t get to experience the defining attraction of the restaurant -- watching Dom craft the pizzas behind the counter -- and for some guests, that’s a deal breaker. “I’m sure his kids are well trained... but we would be disappointed if he wasn’t making them,” says April Banks, a regular visitor from Oklahoma.
Jessica Begley, who has been trekking to Di Fara from the Upper West Side for several years now, compared the recent changes at the restaurant to what befell another one of her favorite pizza spots, Sal & Carmine’s, whose owner, Sal Malanga, died in 2009, leaving ownership in the hands of his grandson. “After Sal passed away, I can’t lie, there was a difference,” she says. She’s been to the restaurant once when Dom DeMarco Sr. wasn’t working the pizza oven, and says that although the taste was consistent, “there’s something amazing about seeing Dom when you walk in the door. You know the quality you are going to get, you know how much of his heart goes into the business.”