Through the rest of Pizza Week, we're going to be meeting the people who make the neighborhood pizzerias of this city run. Right now: Albert Scalleat of Dom DeMarco's.
Albert Scalleat has always been a pizza fanatic. The general manager of Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria & Bar opened his first pizza joint in Fresno, Calif., in 1966.
He fell in love with De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies in Trenton, N.J., in 1970, calling it his favorite pizza. But in 2006, his son-in-law Jeff LaPour found a pie that topped De Lorenzo’s in flavor from Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn.
“Three weeks later I flew out there. It took 45 minutes to get in and another 45 minutes to get a pizza,” Scalleat says.
Once he tasted the pizza, that’s when his pursuit to open his own Di Fara pizza outlet started. He flew back five more times in 2006. Every time, he would talk to the owners.
“I would go up to the counter, go up to daughter and say, ‘I’m a pizza fanatic and I want to bring this pizza to Las Vegas.’ She would say, ‘My father gets offers from the suits on Wall Street all day long. We’re not interested in doing business with anyone.’”
That didn’t stop Scalleat. He went back 15 more times in 2007, Finally in 2008, he started talking to Dominic DeMarco Jr., the son of the Di Fara namesake, and convinced him to fly out to Vegas.
Turns out, the DeMarcos were interested, but they wanted the pizza to replicate the Brooklyn version to a T. They hammered out a deal in 2009.
Replicating the pizzas proved difficult. Scalleat had to import the Italian ingredients that were easy to find in Brooklyn. He went to Brooklyn weekly to learn how to cook the sauce. And he uses a filtration system on the water so it replicates the water in Brooklyn.
The restaurant finally opened in December 2011. The 3,800-square-foot restaurant on the west side of Vegas seats about 100. Pastas and sandwiches make the menu here, along with the Di Fara Special, a square red pie with hand-cut pepperoni, aged mozzarella, grana padano, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Why pursue this one pizza for so long?
“When you have to do something you don’t like, you’re miserable at it,” Scalleat says.
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Albert Scalleat [Photo: Dom DeMarco's]