Farina Pizza owner Michele Galifi loves a thin, crispy crust.
He perfected his own recipe that blends his Italian traditions with the New York style. It really brings together what he considers the top qualities from his years of making and eating pizza.
Galifi grew up in Sicily working in his parents’ restaurant.
“Right after school, I would go to the pizza shop and help out. Cooking my first pizza, I was like 8 years old,” said Galifi.
When he moved to the U.S. in 2009, he was studying to be an electrical engineer but took a side job at a restaurant, awakening his passion for food. Galifi then opened his first restaurant Casa Mia to cook traditional Sicilian recipes and later expanded with Farina Pizza for a more fast, casual vibe. But sadly, the pandemic forced him to close Casa Mia — his first baby.
“I feel fortunate because I still have this one and I can still cook for people, but at the same time, it’s still a part of my heart I left it there. It’s broken,” said Galifi.
So he continues to serve his community through his unique blend of NY and Sicilian style pizza. Interestingly enough, he’s never even been to New York but appreciates the technique, specifically for takeout.
"New York-style holds up much better," he said.
Galifi serves both the classic round pizza and the square Sicilian, with origins from Sicily that bring him back to his younger years.
“During lunch time, we would go across the street and buy pizza by the slice. It wasn’t by the 'slice.' They would cut it with a scissor,” said Galifi.
Sicilian pizza actually was served in bread shops, because of its thick, doughy crust and was sold by weight. In the U.S., we more typically get perfectly cheesy, square slices. Galifi makes everything from scratch, including the sauce and the dough, which is just a mixture of water, yeast, salt and flour.
“Everything that comes out of here I made it. It’s a lot of work, dedication and lots of love,” said Galifi.
He truly loves what he does and hopes his customers see that, especially Italians from New York, who he hopes will feel at home when taking a bite. Galifi wants them to say, “Oh, it brought me back to my childhood. It brought me back somewhere else.”
If you're an Italian from New York, that’s exactly how you will feel when eating at Farina Pizza. It tastes like home. You can try it yourself at 119 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA.