Iconic New York City pizzeria Di Fara reopens after shut down by state for unpaid taxes

MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (WABC) -- An iconic pizza restaurant in Brooklyn that was shut down by the state due to unpaid taxes has reopened for business.

The Department of Taxation and Finance said Tuesday that Di Fara owed $167,506.75 in unpaid taxes over the last two years.

However, the owners said they worked out a deal Thursday after repaying a fraction of the unpaid taxes.

The family got the keys to the locks from the state and were actually able to open the restaurant at its regular time. But because it takes time to warm up the ovens, they were not able to start serving for a couple hours.

The restaurant's new accountant, Vinnie Cervone, said Di Fara was on a payment plan to pay unpaid sales taxes uncovered in an audit a decade ago

The business recently realized they had missed a few payments and hired Cervone to help them sort it out. The owners made one payment earlier this month, and before they could pay more, the state shut them down Tuesday morning.

The owners will continue to dispute the $167,000 figure as the state moves forward with a review of their old sales tax returns. Cervone said he is confident both sides can come up with an agreement to keep the pizzeria open.

Cervone said the matter could have been settled "with a phone call," but instead "they came in aggressively, they shut them down aggressively, it could have been different."

And he believes the eatery could have reopened by Wednesday morning, but it took him some time to get a supervisor from the state Department of Taxation and Finance on the phone.

The failure to keep to the payment plan appears to stem from the hand-off of the business' finances from Domenico De Marco, who founded the pizzeria, to his three children.

Earlier this week, Margaret Mieles, the daughter of 82-year-old De Marco, said the restaurant on Avenue J in Midwood had a six-year payment plan agreement with the state and it was all a big miscommunication.

Mieles has worked alongside her father her whole life, and she says he built a brand on 50 years of passion, old school techniques and only the best ingredients.
The pizzeria has been around since 1964 and has previously been shut down several times due to health violations.

Di Fara attracts celebrities and tourists, and it usually lands in the top five in most pizza reviews. The establishment recently earned an A from the health department.

There is a second location in Williamsburg that remained open while the Midwood location was temporarily shut down.

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