I love “old school” pizza joints; there’s something magical about them.
You can feel the history as soon as you walk through the door.
A really great “old school” joint will capture the history of the neighborhood, almost caught in another time and place.
Quite often they’ll even define the pizza for the area.
DeFazio’s is all of that – and more.
Not that long ago, Troy’s Little Italy was a vibrant community, filled with hundreds of friendly mom-and-pop stores.
It was a place where everyone knew your name (and your secrets).
Today, except for the red-white-and-green streetlight banners, and a few places like DeFazio’s, Troy’s Little Italy is hard to identify.
In the 1950’s, Italian immigrants, Anthony and Josephine DeFazio opened their “Italian Groceria” on 4th Street in Troy’s Little Italy..
DeFazio’s Italian Imports has been a part of South Troy ever since.
In the late 1980’s their son, Rocco DeFazio opened the adjacent wood fired pizzeria and has been successfully running the Defazio empire ever since.
Now you’ll also see Rocco’s son, Matt slowly taking the reins.
Fortunately for us, the Defazios are doing many things, really well.
Great house-made Italian sausage, fresh pastas, take-home dishes, sauces, stromboli, deli meats – all wonderful.
But DeFazio’s real claim to greatness is their pizza.
They make a fantastic pie.
Absolutely one of the best in the area.
In many ways unique to anything else in the area.
As any great pizza will be judged on its crust, DeFazio’s crust is what sets them apart.
Both their dough, and their oven contribute to this greatness.
As Rocco has said, their dough recipes is actually his Italian Grandmother’s bread recipe.
That said, their crust does in some ways have a bread-like quality.
The crumb structure is tighter, with a crispy exterior, and great flavor.
Unlike most pizzerias, DeFazio’s has a few variations on their “basic” white dough.
They have a multi-grain, a spicy red pepper, a garlic & herb, and even a dough made with Brown’s Ale in lieu of water.
The DeFazios know their dough.
The other differentiator is their oven.
DeFazio is burning wood – only wood.
As Rocco will tell you, they were first (at least around here).
But a wood burning oven doesn’t automatically give you great pie.
Compared to the typical gas-deck oven, it’s actually much harder to CONSISTENTLY put out a great pie while
burning only wood.
The DeFazios know their oven.
The DeFazio empire is two relatively small storefronts in south/central Troy; the Italian import/specialty store, and the adjacent pizzeria.
I don’t know why they never broke down that wall between the small stores.
The pizzeria can only seat a couple dozen people, you should time your visit to avoid the crowds.
Even though the seating is limited, I recommend you eat your pie there.
Like any pizza, it’s so much better right out of the oven.
Plus, if you’re lucky Rocco will be there.
Strike up a conversation, he lights up when he tells stories of his heritage, or of Troy’s Little Italy.
If you’ve ever heard Rocco on WAMC Radio’s “Food Friday” with Ray Graf you know what I mean.
I’m excited to say the Defazios are gearing up for a big move.
A little while back they purchased the vacant Vanilla Bean Bakery, one block north of their current store.
Within the next year they’ll be transforming that big space into their new store and restaurant.
Rocco and Matt tell me there will be multiple wood fired ovens, tons of seating, a liquor license, and room for even more of their fun cooking classes.
I’m sure Rocco and his family will be sad leaving the spot where his mom and dad started it all,
but this new location is going to be big for the DeFazios, for Troy, and for local pizza.
Will it revive yesterday’s Little Italy?
Probably not, but I’m confident the DeFazios will continue to make a difference.
We’re very fortunate Anthony and Josephine decided on Troy so many years ago.
The DeFazio family is still doing what they love, and doing it well.
And that makes me smile.
Eat it there.
Start a conversation with Rocco or Matt.
(maybe eat a cannoli)
– Repeat often.