Cuomo, de Blasio go to war over famed pizzeria's tax problems
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New York's top politicians are doing what New Yorkers do best — fight about pizza.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo played hardball this week with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after famed Brooklyn pizzeria Di Fara shut its doors amid problems over a massive outstanding state tax bill.
Upon hearing the news on Wednesday, the 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate tweeted that he and “thousands of New York City pizza-lovers” were “ready to do anything” to save the pizza joint.
“Di Fara is THE best pizza place in New York City. It MUST be saved,” the New York City native tweeted.
Cuomo, though, told a group of reporters at the New York State Fair in Syracuse that if the mayor wanted Di Fara to reopen he could personally pay the $167,506 in taxes it owes to Albany.
“He has no legal authority to forgive state taxes,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Post. “Now, if he wants to pay the $200,000 on behalf of the pizza place, he can do that. That’s fine. And if he wants to get $200,000 worth of pizza, that’s his business. But he can’t forgive state taxes.”
It's unclear whether the de Blasio administration indeed got involved, or if the pizza joint settled the tab somehow — but Di Fara announced on Thursday that it was reopening for business that same afternoon.
De Blasio’s tweet nevertheless stirred up a lot of controversy — and not just for calling Di Fara the best pizza in the city as Grimaldi’s Pizzeria probably has something to say about that, or possibly Luigi’s in Clinton Hill, or Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village, or one of the hundreds of Ray’s pizza that dot Manhattan.
The mayor's rallying cry for the embattled pizza parlor drew jeers from the New York press, while fueling long-simmering tensions between him and the governor.
Cuomo, who is more of a sausage and peppers guy himself, added earlier this week: “I’m not going to pay $200,000 for their pizza, even if it’s very good pizza.”
Margaret Mieles, the daughter of Di Fara owner Domenico De Marco, told AM New York that the 54-year-old restaurant only missed a tax payment in May when it was closed by the city's Health Department.
Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn's Midwood neighborhood. (Photo: Google Maps)
Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the de Blasio administration, said the mayor's office was working with the De Marco family to figure out a solution to their tax problems.
"Di Fara Pizza is an iconic New York institution and the mayor speaks for many when he says it’s the best pizza in the five boroughs," she said in a statement.